LSU-ASU matchups

There are always individual matchups that determine the outcome of any game. This contest will be no different.

Head to Head:

Arizona State WR vs. LSU DB

Derek Hagan vs. Ronnie Prude


Derek Hagan is undoubtedly one of the nation's premiere receivers. With excellent size at 6-2, 202 pounds Hagan is the total package to be a star on the next level. Despite logging just three catches in the season opener versus Temple, (two were for touchdowns), Hagan is closing in on virtually every major record at Arizona State including receptions and touchdown catches. While he has seen plenty of playing time in his career, Ronnie Prude is now LSU's shutdown corner and will no doubt be lined up over Hagan. Prude can bolster his reputation as a Corey Webster's replacement with a solid showing versus Hagan.


Arizona State DE vs. LSU

Kyle Caldwell vs. Jacob Hester

Kyle Caldwell is one of the top rush ends in the Pac-10. With seven sacks a year ago, Caldwell proved he can apply more than enough pressure to opposing quarterbacks. Tackles Brian Johnson and Andrew Whitworth can more than likely handle Caldwell, but if was to wriggle free the last line of defense lies with fullback Jacob Hester. Hester, along with Kevin Steltz, will provide extra protection for LSU quarterbacks.


Player to Watch:

Sam Keller

QB, Junior

6-4, 233

San Ramon Valley HS

Danville, Calif.


Why it is important to stop him:

Sam Keller replaces Arizona State's all-time leading passer in Andrew Walter. A junior is his first season as the Sun Devils' starter, Keller appears more than ready. Having garnered Sun Bowl MVP honors last season, the California native completed 14 of 24 passes versus Temple for 208 yards and four touchdowns. He has excellent size and is a true pocket passer prototypical of the Pac-10.


Who has to stop him?

The Sun Devils success depends on the connection of Keller and wide receiver Derek Hagan. While Ronnie Prude will do his best to shutdown Hagan, the Tigers' front four will need to apply as much pressure as possible to Keller. While ASU has added a new dimension to its offense in freshmen running back Keegan Herring, the Sun Devils must pass to win and the Tigers must pressure that aerial attack out of sync.



LSU rushing offense vs. Arizona State rushing defense:

Arizona State limited Temple to a mere 62 yards on the ground in the season opener. The Sun Devils ranked a respectable 28th in the nation a year ago against the run and appear to be strong against a ground attack this season. But remember, Arizona State plays in the pass happy Pac-10 where a running game is somewhat of a novelty. Facing an LSU team with a stable of capable backs and a veteran offensive line deep in size and talent, expect the Tigers to be able to run pretty much wherever they would like.

Advantage: LSU


LSU passing offense vs. Arizona State passing defense:

JaMarcus Russell projects to enter the Arizona State game as the Tigers solidified starter. While he enters his first season as the rock-solid starter, his game experience has been extensive, i.e. the fourth quarter of the Capital One Bowl last season. While it may take a quarter or two for the passing game to find its rhythm, keep in mind the Sun Devils ranked 85th in pass defense a year ago surrendering 236 yards per game. Maybe they have improved? Maybe not. Temple quarterback Mike McGann (who?) topped the 200-yard mark – 203 to be exact – versus ASU Last week. Pass defense in the Pac-10 is a great deal like a running game, a novelty.

Advantage: LSU


Arizona State rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense:

While Keegan Herring was a bright spot in the Sun Devils season opener setting a freshmen record with 134 yards, remember those numbers came against Temple. Keep in mind, Arizona State ranked 94th in the nation in rushing offense a year ago and tallied just six rushing touchdowns. LSU, which returns seven defensive starters including five of the front seven, ranked seventh in the country against the run last season allowing 99 yards per contest. Do the math.

Advantage: LSU


Arizona State passing offense vs. LSU passing defense:

In the wake of losing all-time leading passer Andrew Walter, Sam Keller has given ASU fans a reason to smile. Leading the Sun Devils to a 27-23 win over Purdue in last season's Sun Bowl, Keller looked solid in the season opener versus Temple. Plus, he has Derek Hagan to throw passes to and in the season opener 10 different players were recipients of Keller offerings. LSU replaces both cornerbacks despite returning one of the nation's best safety tandems.

Advantage: Arizona State


LSU special teams vs. Arizona State special teams:

For a team that missed eight extra points, ranked 52nd in net punting, 79th in punt returns and 57th in kickoff returns a year ago, LSU will come out on the short end in this category until further notice. Arizona State punter Chris Macdonald ranked 15th nationally a year ago and the Sun Devils were 51st in punt returns and a sparkling 22nd on kickoffs.

Advantage: Arizona State



This will be an interesting angle. With the trauma from Hurricane Katrina still weighing on the minds of LSU's players and fans, the simple notion of the Tigers playing this game will serve as extreme motivation in facing Arizona State. However, on the flip side, LSU could come out emotionally spent and fall flat. Plus, the last time the Tigers faced a nationally-ranked opponent in a season opener LSU was drilled 26-8 at Virginia Tech. The Hokies got a chance to work out the kinks versus Arkansas State, much the same way the Sun Devils did against Temple. Will history repeat itself?

Advantage: Arizona State



With all the subplots aside, this game will come down to which team is more physical. Arizona State has a high-octane passing attack, but LSU will utilize a punishing ground attack never seen before by the likes of these Sun Devils. This is Arizona State's first-ever meeting with an SEC team With the game on the road, the Sun Devils will quickly be introduced to the smash-mouth style football played in the nation's most hostile venue.

LSU 35, Arizona State 17

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