Countdown: LSU-Tulane preview

The field at Tiger Stadium was covered Friday afternoon as skies overhead rumbled to announce a brief thunderstorm. While the jumbo-screen televisions were being tested, Tiger Rag learned a new pre-game video will be debuted before the LSU-Tulane game tomorrow night.

In the new video that will air shortly before the Tigers take the field, LSU's live Bengal tiger mascot, Mike the IV, will make a special "entrance" into Tiger Stadium. While we don't want to give away the surprise, Tiger Rag understands that Mike, with the help of video technology, turns in a traffic-stopping performance. 

A new midfield logo may also be unveiled for the 2001 season opener. According to LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette, there is "something special" planned for the game. Bonnette would not provide any further details when asked about the design last week.

As for the game, it is no surprise that LSU is a heavy favorite over Tulane, especially in the wake of the Green Wave's 70-35 loss to Brigham Young.

But the message LSU coach Nick Saban has preached to his team all week is not to overlook a Tulane team that is certain to play better than it did a week ago in Provo, Utah. And where they are concerned, the Tigers have to prepare like they are a better team than they were a year ago since teams will no longer overlook them on the schedule.

LSU vs. TULANE: The Matchups

Tulane rushing offense vs. LSU run defense: Tulane coach Chris Scelfo says he'd like to place more emphasis on the run by averaging 150 yards per game. The Green Wave offensive line averages 277.2 pounds per man, whereas LSU's defensive linemen average 280.3 pounds. Mewelde Moore will get his yards, but the Tigers' three stellar linebackers and run-supporting safeties will make him pay for them.

Advantage: LSU

Tulane passing offense vs. LSU pass defense: If the Green Wave have any chance at beating the Tigers, this is the one area of the game where they'll likely have to excel. Tulane is credited with one of the better passing offenses in the country led by a senior quarterback. The LSU defense is without a proven shutdown cornerback on either side.

Advantage: Tulane

LSU rushing offense vs. Tulane run defense: For the Wave, only three starters return from a front seven that allowed 4.2 yards per carry and ranked No. 83 in the country against the run. The Tigers can choose from a proven stable of runners that includes LaBrandon Toefield, Devery Henderson and Domanick Davis (although Davis will probably play more on defense Saturday).

Advantage: LSU

LSU passing offense vs. Tulane pass defense: The Tigers have proven commodities in their passing attack, with Jimbo Fisher and Rohan Davey directing a deep, talented group of receivers. The Green Wave cornerbacks are comparably younger, thinner and less experienced, and aren't likely to get much help from their pass rushers.

Advantage: LSU

LSU special teams vs. Tulane special teams: Davis' presence returning kicks and punts typically gives the Tigers suitable field position. LSU's punters and place-kickers hope to be more consistent, as does Tulane's. The Tigers will probably have an edge, however, when it comes to kick-off and punt coverage.

Advantage: LSU

Intangibles: There's little question that Nick Saban's staff will be well-prepared on game day, and LSU will play before a packed home crowd. On the other hand, emotion is giant factor in a college football game, and Tulane's players will likely enter Tiger Stadium with a lot of it. They've been hearing for weeks that they can't win this game, and many of them will want to make a statement after last weekend's debacle.

Advantage: PUSH

Prediction: It's a shame these two teams don't meet in Baton Rouge more often. It's unlikely that any LSU fan wants to see the usual rent-a-win teams come to town rather than the old rival that played the Tigers annually for decades, but a yearly renewal probably won't happen for two reasons: Money and the competition level. Expect an early shootout with the Tigers pulling away in the second half.

Predicted score: LSU 46, Tulane 24

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