Head to Head:
Miami WR vs. LSU S
Sinorice Moss vs. Craig Steltz
Craig Steltz started the SEC Championship Game versus Georgia due to an injury to regular starting strong safety Jesse Daniels. And it showed as Steltz had a hand in giving up – not one – but two touchdown receptions to Georgia's Sean Bailey. Here's a warning, Sinorice Moss is better than Bailey. Watch out.
Miami QB vs. LSU DT
Kyle Wright vs. Kyle Williams
Moss may be better than Bailey, but Kyle Wright is no D.J. Shockley. Wright came to Miami widely regarded as one of the top prep passers in the nation. But he has struggled, much like Drew Weatherford at rival Florida State, to grow into the polished college quarterback. Wright is average at best. LSU's Kyle Williams eats average quarterbacks for breakfast.
Player to Watch:
WR, KR, Jr.
Riviera Beach HS
Why it is important to stop him:
Looking at the statistics of both teams, both Miami and LSU will both need to look to ways other than offense by which to score points. Specials teams may play a large role in the outcome of the game and even though the Tigers have return specialist Skyler Green, Miami's Devin Hester is better – and more dangerous. Look for Hester to try and find creases in the Tigers coverage teams in an effort to break a big play and give Miami's struggling offense a short field on which to operate.
Who has to stop him?
The LSU coverage units have to make sure and stop Hester. Hester returned 22 punts for 312 yards for an average pf 14.1 yards and a touchdown. He is quick, elusive and can change the tone of a game in an instant. LSU has done a good job of containing kick specialists and Chris Jackson has mad a habit of downing punts inside the 20. That will be imperative if LSU hopes to have any chance of beating the Hurricanes.
LSU rushing offense vs. Miami rushing defense:
The LSU running game has slowly but surely fizzled away into mediocrity. Things began going south when Alley Broussard was lost in August drills with a torn ACL. Joseph Addai became the workhorse, but was slowed midseason by an ankle injury and has been largely ineffective the rest of the way. Justin Vincent continues to be the consummate underachiever and you're not going to establish even a semi-respectable rushing attack when you have to hand the ball to Shyrone Carey more than six times a game. Miami's defense is solid allowing just 103 yards per game. But the Canes need not worry about LSU running the ball as the Tigers do a better job of stopping themselves on the ground than anyone else.
LSU passing offense vs. Miami passing defense:
Let's just say that Matt Flynn's first pass in a contested game went for a touchdown the other way. LSU fans have been howling to see the Tigers' backup quarterback and hopefully they got their fill in the SEC Championship Game. But for those who did not, it is likely you should in the Peach Bowl as Flynn is likely to start against Miami in place of JaMarcus Russell, who separated his non-throwing left shoulder against Georgia. The Hurricanes are No. 1 in passing and pass-efficiency defense in the nation. Coupled that with a seldom-used backup quarterback and it is an equation equaling doom for the offense.
Miami rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense:
Here's where things begin getting better for LSU. The Hurricanes are without the services of running back Tyrone Moss, who went down midseason with a knee injury. Since then Miami's running game has withered away, much like LSU's. The Cans average just 145 yards rushing per game while the Tigers are allowing a stingy 94 yards, which is seventh in the country.
Miami passing offense vs. LSU passing defense:
With Jesse Daniels possibly out for the Peach Bowl as well, there will be a chink in the armor of the Tiger defense. Miami quarterback Kyle Wright is a capable quarterback and has improved as the season progressed, but the question is can the Canes offensive front provide the Miami signal caller with enough protection to disallow the Tiger defense to force him into throwing interceptions. Wright has already tossed 10 picks this year, compared to 18 touchdowns. Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten should have a field day.
LSU special teams vs. Miami special teams:
With both offenses being far from stellar, special teams could play a huge factor in the game. Each squad has outstanding return specialists – Skyler Green for LSU and Devin Hester returning kicks for the Canes. But it could come down to the guys kicking the ball to Green and Hester and LSU gets the nod. Chris Jackson (41.5 yards per punt) is 38th nationally and 4th in the SEC in punting and the Tigers are 3rd nationally in net punting. Miami's Brian Monroe (35.7 ypp) is 70th in the country, 10th in the ACC. LSU ranks 12th in punt returns compared the Canes No. 35 ranking.
Looking at some other stats here, the one that has haunted LSU the worst this season is turnover margin. The Tigers rank 106th in the country in takeaways compared to giveaways while the Hurricanes are 27th. The Tigers have been unable to force fumbles, have dropped interceptions while other teams have capitalized on one LSU breakdown after another. It can probably be said neither Miami nor LSU is really ecstatic abiout being in the Peach Bowl. The Hurricanes are back in Atlanta for the second straight season while the Tigers were hoping to be in the Sugar Bowl (which happens to be in Atlanta as well) instead of the Peach. Miami plays in the Peach while rival Florida State (that backed into the ACC Championship Game then shocked Virginia Tech) will play in the Orange Bowl, Miami's home stadium. LSU gets to break in the turf in Atlanta's Georgia Dome for the Georgia Bulldogs, who play three days later on the same field on which they beat LSU to advance to the Sugar Bowl. Do you think LSU or Miami is motivated to play this game?
In all actuality, it may be the Peach Bowl, but this LSU-Miami matchup should play out to be one of the better bowl games, being one of three postseason games to feature two top 10 teams. LSU stands to gain quite a bit from a victory in this game as a win over No. 9 Miami would sooth the burn from getting scorched by Georgia in the conference championship game. It will also guarantee the Tigers a top 10 final ranking and give coach Les Miles somewhat of a reprieve from the brow beating he has taken from Tiger fans. But look for the brow beating to continue as the Tigers have little chance to win this game. Miami comes in with more talent and motivation and should beat the Tigers, maybe handily. With JaMarcus Russell on the shelf with an injury and the inexperienced Matt Flynn likely to start, it could be an even longer night than usual for the LSU offense. While both LSU and Miami's offenses are equally sluggish, the Hurricanes could grab an early lead on LSU and run up a big score on an unmotivated Tiger team. Close game or blowout? It is likely somewhere in the middle, but any way you look at it, Miami wins.
Miami 27, LSU 10
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