If you talk to those who truly know college football - like SBNation's Bill Connelly - this may just be the most interesting game on the Saturday slate this week. Western Kentucky, lethal passing attack and all, comes into a...is this a showdown? Would you go that far?...with fifth-ranked LSU who boasts Heisman frontrunner Leonard Fournette and the nation's fourth-best rushing attack.
It doesn't get much more big-time than Saturday night in SEC country (even if it is an ESPNU game), and if Brandon Doughty wants to truly be in the running for a Heisman trip to New York City, or of the Tops want serious consideration for the Top 25, this is the biggest and best stage they'll have in 2015 to showcase what it is they've got.
Who's ready for some footbaw?
Start Time: 6 p.m. CT
Location: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
TV: ESPNU. Streaming on ESPN3.com
Betting Line: LSU -15.5. Over/Under 67
The View From Baton Rouge: And The Valley Shook has everything you'll need from the Tiger side of things. Including TWO Q&A's with yours truly, and this glorious preview. I think this is how I'll do previews from here on out because why not.
Louisiana St. University: Leonard Fournette.
Oh, wait, I have to say more? Damn. Alright fine. The Tigers come into Saturday as the #5 team in all the land, but truly a lot of their success is thanks to Mr. Fournette. Even in the words of And The Valley Shook site manager Billy Gomila, Tigers' QB Brandon Harris (no, not that Brandon Harris, WKU fans) is still trying to find his comfort level with a young corps of receivers. But, Harris does have six touchdown passes and 812 yards through the air (right now, Brandon Doughty is saying "awwwww" to those stats, almost like they're a cat) and has found Malachi Dupre for four of those touchdowns. Dupree has 311 yards on 18 receptions so far.
But, truly, the offense goes through Fournette, who has 1202 rushing yards on just 150 touches and 14 touchdowns. He is going to be a load to bring down and all jokes aside, is the difference maker in this ballgame.
W. Kentucky: It seems like forever ago since WKU last took the field. It was only last Thursday, but still, think of all that has happened since.
Okay, not much has really happened. But it is good to be talking about Hilltopper football, but its bad that Tyler Higbee, Doughty's security blanket, will be unavailable after injuring himself last week in Denton. So, yes that stinks, but it isn't like Doughty has a thousand other receivers he's comfortable throwing the ball to. Okay, so what if its only five weapons. It still feels like a thousand.
While it won't necessarily make or break the night for WKU, I'm really looking forward to seeing if Ace Wales can match his performance against North Texas - where I compared him to Antonio Andrews' break through game in last week's recap - against LSU (an SEC opponent, just like Andrews did against Kentucky). Regardless of how the game goes, it'll be a fun subplot (well, hopefully a fun one) to see how effective Wales is against the Tigers run defense.
Prediction: Doughty is going to have success passing against LSU. I have no doubt in my mind about that. Fournette is going to have success running the football against WKU. I have no doubt in my mind about that either. Where the game will be won is WKU's running game against LSU's passing game. Which team will have more success? Which team will make more stops? It seems rudimentary, because at its base level it is. Both teams are very good at one thing and okayly-good at the other. The team that puts the more complete game together will win.
This is an odd place for WKU to be, especially at its early stages of an FBS program. The Hilltoppers aren't going to sneak up on anyone anymore. Les Miles, the Mad Hatter himself, was very complimentary of the Tops in his pressers this week. Which is good, because the Tops now have the respect of a top five team.
It's also very bad, because Miles isn't going to allow his team to mentally take this week off - even with Alabama on the horizon in the first Saturday of November. So, by this logic, the Tigers should win by 50.
That won't happen. I actually think this will be a much closer game than many others think. I don't think Western Kentucky wins (although how doooooope would it be if they did), but I do think the Tops are in the game the whole way until midway through the fourth quarter. Think last year's game at Illinois. Hell, it wouldn't surprise me if WKU led for a bit in the first half.
But, in the end, LSU is the #5 team in the land, and it'll be a double-digit Tiger victory. I am always so bad at score predictions, but give me a 49-32 victory for the Tigers, but a hard hard fought moral win (not that anyone in the chrome domes will tell you there is such a thing) for WKU.