LSU-Texas A&M has been one of those recent matchups that always produces entertainment. The two programs have gone back and forth the last handful of seasons after the Tigers dominated the series for the first several years of the Aggies making the switch to the SEC.
But with a lot on the line for both programs this week, here's how we think Saturday night's contest will play out.
Score Prediction: Texas A&M 21, LSU 17
The Aggies unsurprisingly enter this weekend's contest as favorites over the purple and gold. There's still a lot to play for on both sides but for Jimbo Fisher's Texas A&M squad, a berth in a New Year's Six bowl isn't totally out of the question.
Though this season has been filled with ups and downs for this Texas A&M squad, big wins over Alabama and Auburn in recent weeks have helped its resume tremendously, though last week's loss to Ole Miss does sting. As for LSU, most fans know what's at stake as a win in Tiger Stadium gets the Tigers bowl eligible while a loss ends Ed Orgeron's tenure with a losing 5-7 team.
What's been LSU's downfall in recent weeks has been this offense, which has struggled for four straight weeks dating back to the Kentucky game and including last weekend's 27-14 win over UL-Monroe. It wasn't an impressive performance in the slightest as Max Johnson did get into more of a rhythm against the Warhawks, but couldn't sustain many drives on offense.
Orgeron said Wednesday Johnson will start and receive all of the snaps at quarterback as the Tigers look to have more consistent success on offense. Facing one of the top defenses in the SEC will make it a challenge for this offense but one that the Tigers are preparing hard for.
"We just haven't clicked on all cylinders," Orgeron said. "Sometimes we're running the ball well, sometimes we're throwing the ball well, sometimes we get down in the redzone and we get bogged down. We should score more points there. It's just been a combination of a bunch of things. We just haven't put it all together yet.
"They're very good on defense, have a great defensive coordinator. Only giving up 15 points per game. Tyree Johnson, defensive end, has nine sacks. Aaron Hansford is all over the place. He's physical and he's fast. Leon O'Neal is a great safety."
Defensively the key will be slowing down running back Isaiah Spiller, who is just 16 yards away from a 1,000-yard season. The Tigers have done pretty well in slowing down the opposing running backs, with some of their biggest struggles coming against mobile quarterbacks.
But since switching to more of a 3-4 look, this defense has played lights out. Orgeron even said Wednesday that LSU will primarily spend Saturday night's season finale in the 3-4 as the defense has done a better job of protecting the run in that scheme. The heart of this Aggie offense lies in the run game and if the Tigers can apply pressure on Zach Calzada, he has been prone to making mistakes, tossing nine interceptions on the season and completing just over 55% of his passes.
Senior night is also one of those games where the team always seems to play up to its competition even if not favored. The Tigers went back and forth last year against Ole Miss, eventually pulling out a win and destroyed Texas A&M back in 2019 behind the arm of Joe Burrow.
With multiple seniors who have seen it all during their time with the program and with bowl eligibility on the line, it'll be interesting to see what kind of fire this group comes out with. In the end, the Aggies defense will force LSU's offense into some really tough situations and squeak by in Baton Rouge.
"I hope it's a great atmosphere. I think it will be, we're playing Texas A&M," Orgeron said. "It's our last game. It's a rivalry game for us. Lot of guys it'll be their last game. It's going to be good. Those that come, I want them to cheer for our players."