Primetime College Football: Tigers vs Tar Heels
This game goes down on the ABC network and it features the Louisiana State University Tigers take on the University of North Carolina Tar Heels in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game down in Atlanta.
The Tigers finished with a record of 9-4 and 5-3 in the SEC and closed out last season with a 19-17 loss to Penn State in the Capital One Bowl. Les Miles is just 17-9 since leading the Tigers to the 2007 national title. The main problem for LSU last year was an offense that hardly moved and ranked as the worst in the SEC.
The Tigers will be turning most of their hopes onto the arm of junior quarterback Jordan Jefferson, 2,166 yards 17 touchdowns and 7 INTS. Jefferson will more than likely be looking for senior Terrence Toliver, 53 catches 735 yards 3 touchdowns, when he throws the ball. The running game will more than likely be one of a committee. It’s no telling if Russel Shepard, Richard Murphy, Stevan Ridley or redshirt freshman Michael Ford will get the bulk of the carries but they all will work in sharing the workload.
The LSU defense was among the top units in the country in 2009 and that made things all that much more disappointing, considering the offense could not capitalize. The squad returns just four starters from a year ago and still hangs it’s strength in the secondary, where defensive backs Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne are as good as it gets. Peterson will definitely make NFL scouts drool as he’s the closet thing the NCAA has to a shutdown corner.
The Tar Heels on the other hand, will be without 12 players for the game after the fallout from an ongoing NCAA investigation. The school said Friday that defensive ends Robert Quinn and Michael McAdoo, cornerbacks Kendric Burney and Charles Brown, receiver Greg Little and suspended defensive tackle Marvin Austin were declared ineligible for the opener for “violating school and/or NCAA rules.” Top running backs Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston, safeties Brian Gupton, Da’Norris Searcy and Jonathan Smith along with defensive end Linwan Euwell are also being held out during the probe.
Additionally its unclear if linebackers Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter, and safety Deunta Williams will play as they didn’t travel with the team.
As the cards have started to fall before the season has even gotten under way for the Tar Heels head coach Butch Davis has to rally his team together and move forward. North Carolina went 8-5 and 4-4 in the ACC but suffered a 19-17 loss to Pittsburgh in the Meineke Car Care Bowl last season.
Senior quarterback T.J. Yates, 2,136 yards 14 touchdowns 15 INTS, will have his hands full especially since he will be without his favorite target in Little. With Draughn and Houston both being out the Tar Heels are turning it’s ground game over to Johnny White, 19 carries 146 yards and a touchdown, as a junior last season.
The climate for the Tar Heels was suppose to be one of a top-notch defense instead now turns to one of uncertainty as the suspensions for UNC could easily prove to be its undoing.
This is the seventh all-time meeting between these two teams as LSU has won the last five in a row, including a 30-3 rout in Baton Rouge in the last meeting in 1986. LSU is also 7-1 at the Georgia Dome.
PICK: Louisiana State University Tigers