BATON ROUGE — LSU’s No. 5 football team will look to finish their regular-season roster with a sixth straight win when the Tigers travel to College Station and take on Texas A&M on Saturday (6 p.m. ESPN).
LSU (9-2, 6-1 SEC) clinched a 41-10 win over UAB on Saturday. The Tigers (No. 6 AFCA Coaches/No. 6 AP) clinched the SEC West title and a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game last week after beating Arkansas and losing Ole Miss to Alabama.
Texas A&M (4-7, 1-6) defeated UMass 20-3 on Saturday.
Here’s a closer look at LSU’s matchup with the Aggies and a score prediction for the game.
LSU’s defense was designed to terrorize Connor Weigman
The Tigers had one of the best pass rushes in the SEC this season, led by freshman sensation Harold Perkins and BJ Ojulari. According to Pro Football Focus, Perkins has 36 pressures and nine sacks despite having just 121 snaps as a pass rusher. Ojulari leads LSU with 44 in pressure.
Aside from those two, LSU has also consistently confused quarterbacks with well-timed blitzes and a malleable scheme, thanks to defensive coordinator Matt House. LSU’s defense has exerted 200 pressure points this season, 40 more than Texas A&M.
House’s defense was set to set fire to Weigman, the Aggies’ freshman quarterback, on Saturday.
Weigman’s lack of experience combined with Texas A&M’s underperforming plan makes this a terrible matchup, especially for him. Despite their talent and Coach Jimbo Fisher’s background as an offensive coach, the Aggies have not scored more than 28 points against an FBS opponent this year.
Former LSU quarterback Max Johnson hasn’t returned from a hand injury, and redshirt student Haynes King hasn’t inspired confidence when he’s played. So, despite its 53.5% completion rate, Weigman is Texas A&M’s best option. He’s a former five-star talent, but asking him to overcome LSU’s gifted pass rush will be too much for him.
The Aggies’ run defense struggled
There’s been a lot of talk about Texas A&M’s offensive struggles, but running defense has also suffered this season.
Despite the number of former five-star recruits they have this side of the ball, the Aggies are giving up 4.8 yards per carry this season. They have conceded 951 rushing yards and over 5.6 yards per rush attempt in their last three SEC games against Ole Miss, Florida and Auburn.
LSU has a game running well enough to take advantage of this. Josh Williams and Noah Cain average over five yards per rush attempt, and Jayden Daniels is one of the best running quarterbacks in the country, averaging 740 rushing yards.
The Tigers also have a large and physical offensive line that has only gotten bigger and more physical with the recent return of Garrett Dellinger.
However, LSU will need a healthy Williams to implement this plan. The former walk-on and lead-back was out last week with a sprained knee. The Tigers have only two scholarship running backs behind them (Cain and John Emery Jr.), with Armoni Goodwin missing for the year with a knee injury.
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Players in mind: Evan Stewart
Texas A&M running back Devon Achane is the Aggies’ most proven threat, but Stewart is possibly the most dangerous.
The newcomer and former five-star signee leads the Aggies in catches and receiving yards. While his talent has too often been wasted on the Aggies’ poor quarterback play, it’s evident that Stewart is already good enough to be the No. 1 wide receiver on a large majority of teams nationwide.
Result Prediction: LSU 31, Texas A&M 10
There’s a way for Texas A&M defensively. As explosive as the Tigers’ offensive was in the second half of the year, the unit still has a few warts. The biggest problem for the Aggies is how they will score points. Outside of defensive or special teams results, it’s difficult to find a realistic path for Texas A&M to even get 20 points.
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South region. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @KokiRiley.