Going up against SEC powerhouse No. 12 LSU (0-0) is no easy task, but for BYU (1-0), they seem to be catching the Tigers at just the right time.
Due to the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey, The AdvoCare Texas Kickoff, which was scheduled for NRG stadium in Houston, Texas has been moved to Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
This isn’t anything new for LSU as its marks the third year in a row that the Tigers have had to move a game to another location. In 2015, it was against South Carolina and in 2016, the Tigers had to reschedule against Florida due to Hurricane Matthew. While the game has essentially turned into a home game for LSU, the Tigers still have a lot of concerns heading into Saturday’s primetime game.
Star Players Missing
During his press conference on Monday, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron ruled out the possibility that outside linebacker Arden Key would play in the season opener against BYU. Key, who broke the program single-season sacks record with 12 sacks last season, is still getting back into the swing of things after rehabilitating from offseason shoulder surgery.
— CBS Sports CFB (@CBSSportsCFB) August 28, 2017
With SEC play beginning on Sept. 16 against Mississippi State, Orgeron wants to get Key fully healthy in order to make a run at the conference title.
Key isn’t the only star player hurting as running back Derrius Guice is still recovering from a minor injury sustained during a scrimmage on Aug. 19. Both Key and Guice were named on the preseason AP All-American First-Team, with Guice being mentioned as a Heisman finalist heading into the season. With his minor injury, plus getting his wisdom teeth taken out, Guice has missed plenty of time working out with the offense under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
During his press conference, Orgeron noted that he wasn’t certain if Guice would even play, saying, “We expect to ease him back into practice and we’re going to see how this week goes. Do I think Derrius is going to play? Yes. Am I 100 percent sure right now? No. Have to see how he practices this week.”
— SEC Country LSU (@SECCountryLSU) August 28, 2017
The offseason has been full of drama with a number of players transferring in and out of the Tigers program. While it is normal to see some players transfer, the number that came out this year was quite surprising with a number of starters and highly-rated recruits gone from last year’s team.
However, and most importantly, the LSU offensive line is uncertain with so many guys coming and going. And for the first time in program history, a true freshman will start at right tackle in the season opener for the Tigers in either Saahdiq Charles or Ed Ingram.
LSU: Key players who transferred
QB Brandon Harris
CB Saivion Smith
WR Jazz Ferguson
DL Isaiah Washington
DL Travonte Valentine
OL Chidi Okeke
OL Andy Dodd
OL Willie Allen
OL Maea Teuheme
OL Seth Stewart
With so many new faces and a new coaching staff, the Tigers will more than likely have a few hiccups during its first game of the season. Meanwhile, BYU, which played last week, got a good look at the areas it needs to improve on and evaluate after an unimpressive 20-6 victory over Portland State.
BYU players that were serving suspensions or missed a half because of targeting calls in last year’s bowl game are now over as the Cougars come in ready to play along with several starters who were held out (Butch Pau’u, Moroni Laulu-Pututau). Meanwhile, the Tigers will start a number of true freshman along the offensive line as well as on defense at the outside linebacker, safety and nickel back spots.
Adding it all up, and based off its season openers over the past few years, shows that LSU’s offense might need some time to gel together. The Tigers averaged 17.4 points per game over the past two years in its season-openers. In 2015, LSU pulled out a 21-19 win over Mississippi State and fell last year by a score of 16-14 to Wisconsin.
With a new offense and a lot of new players in its season opener, I believe LSU — which should be a top team come later in the sesaon — will struggle a bit against BYU. I feel the Cougars will play a closer game than most people expect and should take the under on the 14-point spread for LSU.
The Cougars are going to be motivated to put last week’s sluggish victory behind them against LSU on a national stage. The Cougars have a lot more to play for a win would do more for the program than for the Tigers. Besides the game against Michigan two years ago, the Cougars have played very well against P5 opponents with most games going down to the wire. Just ask, Michigna St., Oklahoma, Texas, and fellow SEC teams in Ole Miss and Mississippi St.
With early non-conference games, a leader at quarterback can make a big difference as BYU showed against Oklahoma in 2009 when the Cougars upset the third-ranked Sooners. With Tanner Mangum under center, BYU has the advantage at quarterback (just ask LSU fans) which bodes well for the Cougars.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) August 23, 2017
Another year without a QB
— KarlosQⓂ️ (@NSRKarlos) August 22, 2017
The Betting Line
The Spread: BYU +14, LSU -14
Money Line: BYU +290, LSU -350
While LSU is favored by two touchdowns over the Cougars, the moneyline is overwhelmingly in favor of the Tigers. Instead of picking how close the game is going to be, the moneyline involves simply picking the winning team. With BYU at +290, that means if the Cougars win, a fan would win $290 for his $100 wager. However, for LSU, one would have to risk $350 to win $100.