When the No.20 LSU Tigers visit Nashville Saturday to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores, both teams will enter the game with identical 0-1 records. However, one group is more satisfied with their loss than the other.
The defending national champs were embarrassed at home last week by a Mississippi State team that threw the ball all over Tiger Stadium as if they were playing against air. When the dust settled, the legend of the Tigers vaunted secondary laid broken on the ground.
The Tigers will look to reclaim that title and their pride on Saturday and have a true freshman quarterback across the way to feast upon in this one. They will also celebrate the return of All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. who sat out last week with an illness that was reported to be non-COVID in nature.
As for this week's critical matchup, it's a bit simpler than others.
The key to this one is upfront, and while most games are won and lost in the trenches, the importance of this matchup between the Tiger's new offensive line and the Commodores veteran defensive front will be where this game is won or lost.
For LSU, their offensive line played decently in week one, but with four new starters this season, there were some issues that the Tigers worked to correct this week in practice.
On the opposite sideline, the Commodores defensive line ranked No.1 in the nation last week, according to Pro Football Focus. That indicates that this might be the one area where Vanderbilt has a bit of an advantage.
Expect the Tigers to come out and attempt to impose their will on the Commodores by running the football. LSU was forced to abandon the run game last week because they fell behind. They don't want to do that again this week and need to serve notice to the remainder of their opponents that they can and will run the football.
A feeble showing on the ground against the Commodores would not be a good thing for the Tigers. It would, however, be a good thing for the Commodores if they can stop the run and force the game to the are where the Tigers feature a very talented by inexperienced quarterback fo their own in Myles Brennan.
Brennan is competent and has talented receivers who helped him throw for over 300 yards and three scores in his first start last week. However, he also gave up two interceptions, and a repeat of that would go a long way to helping the Commodores cause.
If the Vanderbilt defensive line is that good, their ability to stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback could lead them to an upset; simultaneously, if the Tigers can run the football effectively, they will walk out with their first win of the season.
It looks that simple on paper, but we'll find out one thing for sure this week. Is the Commodore defensive line that good?