LSU-North Texas Preview

Tiger Rag disects the Mean Green and looks at the matchups for Saturday's contest.

Head to Head:

North Texas RB vs. LSU DT

JaMario Thomas vs. Kyle Williams

The NCAA's rushing champion from a year ago, JaMario Thomas ran 285 times for 1,801 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. Thomas, along with Patrick Cobbs (NCAA rushing champion from 2003), comprise the nation's most successful running back tandem. However, LSU senior defensive tackle Kyle Williams is garnering accolades as one of the SEC's top player and teams with senior Claude Wroten to form the nation's best 1-2 punch at the down tackle position. Look for the LSU rushing defense to rebound from a sub-par showing against Auburn in this one. North Texas' running backs are talented, but in no way compare to the lies of Auburn's Kenny Irons.

North Texas K vs. LSU K

Nick Bazaldua vs. Chris Jackson

Aside from its formidable backfield, North Texas only other primary scoring threat is senior kicker Nick Bazaldua. Bazaldua led all Sun Belt Conference kickers in points scored (79) a year ago. While it is improbable Bazaldua can beat LSU himself, the Tigers must keep the DeSoto, Texas native out of range. He hit from as far out as 51 last season. LSU kicker Chris Jackson was the hero a week ago hitting the game tying and winning field goals against Auburn. A clutch performer, Jackson has proved he can hit big field goals under pressure situations.

Player to Watch:

Johnny Quinn

WR, Junior

6-0, 199

McKinney HS

McKinney, Texas

Why it is important to stop him:

Johnny Quinn is pretty much all North Texas has in the passing game. The Mean Green averages less than 100 yards passing each game. Quinn carries the bulk of that load averaging 3.5 catches and 46.50 yards per game. On the year, Quinn has 21 catches for 279 yards and three touchdowns.

Who has to stop him?

The LSU secondary will rarely be tested by North Texas due to the fact the Mean Green lacks the firepower (nor the speed) to beat the Tigers deep. Plus, the Mean Green ranks 115th in the nation in passing offense. However, expect senior Ronnie Prude – LSU's shutdown corner - to matchup with Quinn, UNT's big-play receiver.

LSU rushing offense vs. North Texas rushing defense:

There is little doubt LSU is going to have hard time running against the North Texas rushing defense. The Mean Green ranks 109th in the nation against the run giving up 215 yards per game. Joseph Addai is the SEC's leading rusher, but look for Jimbo Fisher to try and get Shyrone Carey and Justin Vincent more involved this week.

Advantage: LSU

LSU passing offense vs. North Texas passing defense:

JaMarcus Russell has had his ups and downs so far this season. Russell has looked sharp, but has been slowed lately by a wrist injury on his throwing hand. Look for Russell to start the game, but Matt Flynn gets in the game and plays possibly – more than a half. No worries, North Texas ranks 103rd in the nation against the pass, surrendering 144 yards each game.

Advantage: LSU

North Texas rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense:

Let's put it this way, North Texas averages 124 yards a game, which is the most positive stat in the Mean Green camp. UNT ranks 79th in the nation in rushing offense. In every other statistical category, North Texas ranks in the triple digits. LSU is giving up just 96 yards per game (13th nationally), which is a bit skewed after Kenny Irons rushed for 218 yards last week in the Auburn game.

Advantage: LSU

North Texas passing offense vs. LSU passing defense:

Again, North Texas' offense is bad. The Mean Green is averaging just 93 passing yards per game, which is a lowly 115th in Division I-A. Furthermore, the Mean Green is last – that's right, No. 117 – in the country in total offense. The lone bright spot is wide receiver Johnny Quinn. But his numbers are hardly bright, more like a low beam.

Advantage: LSU

LSU special teams vs. North Texas special teams:

Chris Jackson showed he has ice water in the veins hitting two big field goals last week versus Auburn. Look for Jackson to pin North Texas deep pinning the Mean Green's anemic offense in precarious positions. Maybe a UNT might make a mistake and punt to Skyler Green. It would be good to let Green pad his stats a bit.

Advantage: LSU


Things have definitely changed since we first published our original North Texas preview in the pre Hurricane Katrina issue of Tiger Rag. North Texas, which was picked to win the Sun Belt Conference in the preseason, is an ugly 2-4. The Mean Green is averaging just 10 points per game on offense and has the nation's worst offense. No intangible in the world could help the worst team in the worst conference in the country.

Advantage: LSU


Wonder if this game may have been different had it been played when originally scheduled? Not likely. North Texas slipped past Middle Tennessee in its season opener and have been blown out by Tulsa, Kansas State (two bad Big 12 teams) as well as its most recent defeat by a below average Louisiana Tech team 40-14. LSU will roll up gaudy numbers padding the stats and using a game to get things right in terms of timing and consistency as the Tigers move closer to a showdown at Alabama. The subs are in by mid second quarter as LSU wins BIG.

LSU 56, North Texas 6

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