LSU is a running team that is difficult to identify and contain. Marcus Randall has largely the same ability Matt Mauck had to take advantage of quicker defenses that tend to over-pursue. Plus, Joseph Addai is providing the hard-nosed yardage that LaBrandon Toefield supplied before his broken arm. With Domanick Davis leading the charge, LSU is averaging 210 yards on the ground versus USC's 143 rushing yards allowed per game.
LSU passing offense vs. South Carolina pass defense
Marcus Randall has yet to throw a significant pass in a college game, but we hesitate to label passing his weakness until he gets his chance to prove himself. For what it's worth, he has shown a better arm than Matt Mauck over the past two years they've competed against one another. South Carolina has the 20th best pass defense in the county, allowing 176 yards per game with nine interceptions in six games. But outside of Georgia, the Gamecocks haven't faced considerable opposition.
USC rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense
Since letting Virginia Tech enjoy a big day on the ground, LSU's run defense has tightened like a vice. Opponents are averaging 84 rushing yards a game versus the Tigers (No. 7 NCAA). South Carolina has posted 169 yards per game rushing, but you can expect those numbers to take a dip at what even Gamecock fans consider the real Death Valley.
USC passing offense vs. LSU pass defense
The only concern for LSU is if Corey Jenkins can create some big pass plays. So far, he hasn't shown much of that tendency in leading the nation's No. 81 passing offense (186.6 yards per game). The Tigers bring the nation's third-best pass defense into the game (123.5 ypg).
LSU special teams vs. USC special teams
Domanick Davis' return ability provides LSU with the edge. Both teams are pretty evenly matched in punting and field goals, although the Gamecocks are a bit better on net punting. The Tigers could stand to improve on kickoff coverage.
Turnovers have been the bane of South Carolina's season to date, but the Gamecocks have managed to string together four wins. The question is whether USC's momentum will be enough to overcome the boost of confidence LSU received with its win at Florida. And of course there's always the chance the Tigers will have a letdown after their huge road victory. We're betting that doesn't happen following the injury to Matt Mauck that has grounded the team in reality.
We think LSU asserted itself as an upper-tier Southeastern Conference team with its big win over Florida. South Carolina has flirted on the fence with the same designation but doesn't seem comfortable in that role this year. Even with four straight wins, the Gamecocks don't seem to possess the kind of momentum to knock off a Tiger team that will be playing in front of a rabid crowd on national television. Look for Marcus Randall to settle into his role as starting quarterback after a couple of early stumbles.
Predicted Score: LSU 24, USC 13
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