South Carolina has to put its 35-7 victory over Georgia behind this week and focus on another top-10 battle as it hits the road to LSU this weekend. In this Daily 5, we take a quick look at the Gamecocks (6-0, 4-0) and the problems the Tigers (5-1, 1-1) could pose.
End talent on display
Two of best defensive ends in the country will be showcased on Saturday night at Tigers Stadium. LSU’s Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, who most consider top 15 picks in this year’s NFL Draft, are on one side with South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney on the opposite side. Mingo, who could play as an end or outside linebacker, is a near-consensus top five pick right now in early October. Montgomery is projected to go anywhere between No. 3 overall to late first round, depending on which draft analyst is making the list. Both are part of an LSU defensive line that rotates an incredible amount to keep players fresh. Clowney, ineligible for this year’s draft, ranks third in the Southeastern Conference with 6.5 sacks in six games. He has proven to be one of the best pass-rushers in the conference and when channel-flippers stop on ESPN this Saturday night, there’s a good chance one of the three aforementioned names will be in the backfield.
One of the best
The Tigers have one of the best defenses in the Southeastern Conference with tons of NFL talent on that side of the football. The group is historically one of the best nationally and this year is no different. LSU is second in the SEC in total defense giving up an average of only 221.0 yards per game. Teams average 12.8 points per game, which is fourth in the conference. One area where LSU has struggled this season though is in the red zone. Opponents have moved the football to inside the 20 on 10 different occasions this year and left with a touchdown during eight of those possessions. The other two possessions have resulted in successful field goal tries meaning opponents are a perfect 10-for-10 when moving into the red zone.
A lot to be desired
As good as the LSU defense has been this season, at least for an 80-yard stretch of the field, the offense has been just that bad. The Tigers are ninth in total offense racking up 394 yards per game and seventh in the league in scoring averaging 33.5 points per game. While the totals don’t seem to be too bad, consider the competition. Florida, which held the Tigers to six points, has an elite defense. The other five teams that LSU has faced this year include Auburn, ranked No. 12 in the SEC in total defense, Washington, Towson, North Texas, and Idaho. While LSU has scored quite a few points, most have come against bad teams.
Opportunity for fireworks
Two of the conferences best will match wits on Saturday night as LSU punter Brad Wing will have to kick to South Carolina return man Ace Sanders. Regarded by many as one of the best punter in the country, Wing has punted 27 times with an average of 45.3 yards per kick. He has 12 punts down inside the 20-yard line and eight of 50 or more yards. Sanders is one of the best return men in the conference averaging 15.5 yards per try. Wing is certainly capable of neutralizing Sanders with great hang time on his kicks but if the LSU punter makes a mistake, the USC return man can provide a big spark on special teams.
Series history not pretty
South Carolina doesn’t have a record to boast about against LSU. Even though many series in conference are greatly skewed in favor of its opponents, the Gamecocks have a run of success against many teams in recent history. LSU, however, is an exception. The Tigers hold a 2-16-1 series mark including four straight over the Gamecocks - 2002, 03, 07, 08. The Gamecocks won the first time the schools met when both were members of the SEC taking an 18-17 win in Baton Rouge. The next season, the teams tied. The only other win for USC came in the first meeting between the schools back in 1930.
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