No. 11 LSU Tigers at Washington Huskies
Husky Stadium Seattle, Washington, Saturday, September 5th 10:30PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: LSU -17
The Washington Huskies 2008 campaign could not have gone much worse considering they were a winless 0-12 on the season. The Huskies disastrous season was enough to remove Tyrone Willingham out of a coaching position and replace him with Steve Sarkisian. The Huskies will look to get the program back in the right direction this season, but it will take nothing less than a miracle of achieving that possibility in their home opener. The Huskies will host the highly regarded LSU Tigers in a late night season opener.
The Tigers backed up their National Championship campaign with a disappointing 8-5 record in 2008. However, many of the problems that caused the team to take a step back are thought to be solved and the Tigers are again in the National Title talk. Of course, LSU will have a long brutal road through the SEC this year but they will still have to take care of business against a Huskies team that will be trying to end a 14 game losing streak.
LSU struggled offensively for much of last season trying to find a quarterback that could get the job done behind center. Jarrett Lee received a lot of playing time behind center, but that only resulted into a dismal 16 interception season.
Sophomore Jordan Jefferson could be the answer this season. Jefferson closed out the final two games of the season while giving the Tigers some success in the passing game and more importantly did not turn the ball over.
Jefferson will be the guy this Saturday and the Tigers must ignite the passing game if they are to be one of the top teams in America.
Certainly, the offense will find most of its success in senior running back Charles Scott. Scott racked up over 1100 yards in 2008 and recorded 18 scores on the season as well.
Not only will Scott be a huge factor in the ground game, but fellow senior tailback Keiland Williams. Williams is reported to be making big strides over the off-season and should get some quality playing time. LSU will need both backs to provide some momentum on the ground to aid the offensive success this season.
The Huskies troubles from 2008 did not lie on just one side of the ball. Washington ranked in the bottom of the Pac-10 in both offense and defense. Washington will turn to quarterback Jake Locker for the 2009 crusade. Locker missed most of the 2008 season due to injury, but is back and healthy. Locker presents some problems for defenses given his natural ability to make plays with his legs as well as his arm. Prior to last season’s problems, Locker threw for over 2,000 yards in his freshman campaign. The Huskies hope that Locker can have a breakout season heading into 2009 and that may be possible with the luxury of some solid wide outs.
D’Andre Goodwin and Jermaine Kearse are both talented targets. Goodwin had 692 receiving yards last year in an offense that was anything but effective through the air. However, if Locker can provide consistency expect Goodwin’s numbers to increase. Kearse is another young talent who could see an increase in action this year if the passing game is to excel. One thing is for sure, the Huskies must find a way to move the ball because they can not afford to have similar numbers compared to 2008.
Vegas has the betting line favoring the LSU Tigers by 17 points over the Huskies.
The over/under total is listed at 53.5. Early betting action has shown a big majority of early activity is favoring LSU and the over total for the game as well.
Despite the offensive numbers the Tigers produce this season, they should have an advantage on the defensive side of the field versus most teams they square off against. LSU ranked in the top 30 defenses in the country last season and they have plenty of talent to upgrade to even better numbers this season.
The secondary should be among the best in America led by safety Harry Coleman. The Tigers elite secondary will provide a lot of problems to the Huskies since they will be attempting to move the ball through the air. Also it is not like for a weak Pac-10 team to beat one of the best in the LSU in the trenches by means of the running game. Therefore, could mean the Huskies could face challenges in trying to find a way to move the ball.
Washington on the other hand had tremendous problems stopping offenses last year. The Huskies main problem is they could not stop the run which is an area of the game that throws up all types of warning flags against the Tigers.
Washington allowed over 240 yards per game on the ground last season which did not even rank in the top 100 of college football.
The Huskies will likely see a BIG dosage of carries from Charles Scott and they must be able to stop the run if they want to avoid being blown out in their home opener.
The Huskies could really use this game as a confidence builder. If they are to play LSU tough, then there should be no problems tackling some weaker opponents this year and getting some wins recorded. However, that is not to say that they can not deliver some surprises if they to put good pressure on the young QB Jefferson and the Tigers offense to force some turnovers.
Jay’s Pick - LSU just too strong up front on both side of the ball and the running game prevails in a big way. Tigers -17