CENTRAL MICHIGAN VS SYRACUSE
Time – 12:00pm, Carrier Dome
TV/Radio – ESPN, 99.5FM WTKW
Series – Tied 1-1
Last meeting – January 2nd 1989, Syracuse won 23-10
Coaches: Syracuse – Scott Shafer (13-15); LSU – Les Miles (133-50 overall, 105-29 at LSU)
Heisman Hopeful – LSU running back Leonard Fournette was number one recruit in the entire 2014 class. In his sophomore campaign with the Tigers, he has become the best back in college football and the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. Last season, reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston came into the Carrier Dome. Will Fournette come away victorious as Winston did?
Strength vs Strength – LSU is fifth in the country in rushing yards per game with 338.5. The Syracuse defense ranks third, allowing just 45.7 yards per outing. This is an intriguing matchup that will show if the Orange rush defense is for real. Can they shut down the top back in college football?
Turnover Margin – Syracuse is +7 on the season in turnover margin, second best in college football. LSU is +2 through two games, but have yet to turn the ball over themselves. The Tigers defense is big, strong, fast and physical. The Syracuse defense has a knack for forcing turnovers. Who wins the turnover margin could be a pivotal factor in who wins the game. If the Orange are to pull off the upset, it starts with taking the ball away from LSU.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
LSU Offensive Line vs Syracuse Defensive Line
The Tigers have a big, strong and talented offensive line. They are a key to one of the best rushing attacks in college football. If they are able to open big holes for Fournette and give him running lanes on the fast Carrier Dome track, it will be a long day for Syracuse. However, if the Orange defensive line is able to get some penetration and force Fournette into hesitating or plugging the running lanes, it gives Syracuse a fighting chance.
Orange wins if …
They Score in All Three Phases – Syracuse may need unexpected scores in this one to pull off the upset. That means a special teams and defensive touchdown to help the Orange gain momentum and get the crowd involved. Combine that with winning the turnover battle and Syracuse has a recipe to shock the world, albeit one that will be difficult to execute.
Tigers Win if …
They Play Mistake Free – If both teams play their A game, LSU wins. Upsets happen with the favored team makes mistakes. That includes turnovers, blown assignments on defense, special teams gaffes, etc. If LSU limits turnovers and stays true to who they are, they come out of the Carrier Dome victorious.
RB Leonard Fournette – The best running back in the country, Fournette's going to be the best player on the field in this one. He will test a stout Syracuse run defense unlike anyone else this season. He has size, power, speed, elusiveness and vision. Everything you want in a big time running back.
Something to Prove
Syracuse Front Seven – Syracuse is ranked in the top five in nearly ever rushing defensive statistical category. Many, however, liken that more to their competition than anything else. If the Orange are able to contain the Tigers to some extent, it will go a long way towards proving the Syracuse defense is for real in 2015.
Looking to Build
QB Zachary Mahoney – Mahoney took the reigns in overtime last week and led Syracuse to a victory. This week, however, is a completely different animal. He wants to simply play smart football and make the right decisions in the passing game and on option plays.
Freshman to Watch
OG Maea Teuhema – Teuhema is already making his case for being LSU's best offensive lineman as a true freshman. Teuhema is a former four-star prospect as the number one guard in the entire 2015 class. He is proving why this season. He is big, athletic, strong and plays with a mean streak.