And who could blame them? The Tigers had played far below standard this season compared to the defenses of the past, and entering Saturday's game, Johnny Manziel seemed even better than the Heisman Trophy winner from a year ago.
But as they so often do in college football, the scripts were rewritten as the LSU defense turned in its most dominant performance of the season in a 34-10 victory in Tiger Stadium.
LSU held a Texas A&M offense that hadn't scored fewer than 41 points this season to just 10 points on 299 total yards. The Tigers limited the Aggies to less than 20 minutes of possession, and held Manziel to 54 yards on the ground and an 83.2 passer rating.
"That's the kind of LSU defense that we're used to," said LSU coach Les Miles.
The LSU defense dominated from the start, forcing a punt or turnover on downs on each of A&M's first five possessions. The Aggies didn't convert their third first down until early in the second quarter.
Even A&M's most successful drive of the second half, one that went 89 yards on 11 plays, ended in zero points as the Tigers forced the Aggies off the field after three consecutive incompletions from the three-yard line.
"We had guys flying around," Jalen Mills said. "Our tempo and our level of play was very high tonight."
LSU stopped the Aggies again on the next possession despite starting at the LSU 23-yard line. A&M only came up with a field goal, and their lone touchdown came on more of a fluke than anything.
Manziel connected with Derel Walker shortly before halftime for a 51-yard touchdown pass after getting open by Tre'Davious White falling down in coverage.
"10 points, that was amazing," Mills said. "Those guys coming in were throwing for 400, 500 yards every game. It says a lot for us as a secondary and also our linebackers."
Meanwhile, the LSU offense dominated on the ground. The Tigers racked up 324 rushing yards on 55 attempts. Terrence Magee led the way with 149 total yards, including a 65-yarder to the one-yard line that set up the opening LSU touchdown.
But it wasn't just Magee. Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue each eclipsed the 60-yard mark, and all four backs (Kenny Hilliard included) averaged more than 4.5 yards per carry.
That's a welcome change for a LSU offense that totaled just 43 yards on the ground two weeks ago against Alabama.
"We knew we could have some success running the ball tonight," Hill said. "We knew that the running backs would have to run physically. They haven't faced that many powerful running backs, and that was an advantage for us."
The passing game didn't put up the video game numbers it has in games this season. Zach Mettenberger completed 11-of-20 passes for 193 yards. He did connect with Jarvis Landry for a pair of touchdown passes, the second capping off a 91-yard touchdown drive that really sealed the win.
A&M had LSU pinned at its own three-yard facing a third-and-16, but Mettenberger connected with Beckham for 19 yards, one of 11 third down conversions in the game. Mettenberger would convert one more third down on that drive before hitting Landry deep for a 40-yard touchdown pass that made it 21-3 late in the second quarter.
"Our main plan was to keep Manziel and their offense off the field as much as possible," Landry said. "We did a great job at that tonight and so did our defense. They did a great job of eliminating him from making some of those big plays he's used to making."
From there LSU simply controlled the clock as the defense maintained its virtual shutout of Manziel. In two games against the Tigers, Manziel has completed just 52 percent of his passes and thrown five interceptions compared to one touchdown.
LSU also held him to only 81 yards rushing in those two victories.
"He's the best player in college football, so you want to keep that guy off the field," Magee said. "The way you do that is keep the ball on the ground and keep the clock running."
While the victory doesn't change LSU's chances of winning a national or SEC title, it does serve as a marquee victory this team can hang its hat on. After three disappointing losses this season, the Tigers have that win against a Top-10 team and defended its home turf yet again, as LSU has only lost twice in Tiger Stadium since 2009, both of those coming to No. 1 teams.
"That's a huge win for everything, for respect, for pride," said senior LB Lamin Barrow. "It was something that we needed."