BATON ROUGE – LSU opens its ninth season under Les Miles on Saturday when the 12th-ranked Tigers face 20th-ranked TCU in one of the top games during the opening weekend of the 2013 college football season.
Kickoff between the Tigers and the Horned Frogs is scheduled for 8:06 p.m. CT from a sold out AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. The game will be televised on ESPN with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe on the call.
LSU and TCU go into Saturday’s Cowboys Classic as two of the winningest major college football programs over the past eight years. Since 2005, LSU has won 85 games, second nationally to only Boise State’s 93 victories. TCU ranks third during the span with 84 wins.
It’s the first meeting between LSU and TCU since 1968 when the Tigers posted a 10-7 victory in Tiger Stadium for its fifth consecutive win over the Horned Frogs. LSU leads the series with TCU, 5-2-1 as the teams go back to 1931 when the Horned Frogs won, 3-0, in Fort Worth.
“We’re excited to finally get the season underway,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “We’ve had a really good camp, now it’s time to go out and play. Our preparation this week has been really good. TCU is a quality opponent that will present us with some different challenges, in particular the 4-2-5 defense that they run.”
LSU GameDay Info
Ticket Will Call for LSU fans opens at 3 p.m. CT near North/Main Box Office between Entries A and K at AT&T Stadium.
As the designated visiting team, LSU will wear white jerseys and will occupy the north sideline.
Kickoff: 8:06 p.m. CDT
Driving Directions (Baton Rouge to Arlington, Texas -- 460 mi.; 6h, 29m)
LSU goes into the TCU contest coming off a 10-3 mark last year and its 13th straight bowl appearance. TCU went 7-6 a year ago in what was its first year in the Big 12 and made its 12th bowl appearance under Gary Patterson.
The Tigers will attack TCU’s defense with senior quarter Zach Mettenberger, who threw for over 2,600 yards and 12 touchdowns last year in what was his first season as a starter. Mettenberger will be joined in the lineup by junior receivers in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., who combined to catch 99 passes for 1,286 yards and seven touchdowns last year.
“We have to execute and we have to execute on every play,” Mettenberger said. “In order for the offense to work, every player on the field has to do their job.”
Miles said that Mettenberger looks ready to go.
“He has a good sense of what he is going to be expected to do,” Miles said of Mettenberger. “You can tell. He has a smile on his face and he is busting it. He is working hard, and that is what he should be doing.”
The Tigers return three starters on the offense line, but only one of the three plays the same position from a year ago. Sophomore Trai Turner is back at right guard while sophomore Vadal Alexander moves from right tackle to left guard, and junior La’el Collins shifts from left guard to left tackle.
Alfred Blue, who was LSU’s leading rusher for the first three weeks of the 2012 season before suffering a season-ending knee injury, will start at tailback for the Tigers.
The Tiger offense will face a TCU defense that returns nine starters from a unit that led the Big 12 in total defense (323.9), rushing defense (105.4), third-down conversion rate (56-of-187) and second in scoring (22.6). The Horned Frogs are led defensively by cornerback Jason Verrett, who earned All-America honors last year, and defensive end Devonte Fields, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
“They have a quality front, and it's like anything; if you're just going to attack them inside, it's an issue, so we're going to attack the flanks,” Miles said. “We're going to put the ball on the perimeter, as well, and we're going to attack them across the front, not just inside.
“I think that they have quality defensive linemen, and I think there's no specific weakness in any way. I know that's the attack that we have to have. We're stepping into an opener where you can't just line up and say, this is what we're going to do and let's do it. We have to show them the reasons why they need to cover down.”
Offensively, TCU is expected to play two quarterbacks in Trevone Boykin (2,054 yards, 15 TDs in 2012) and Casey Pachall (948 yards, 10 TDs in 2012). The Horned Frogs return their leading rusher from a year ago in B.J. Catalon, who rushed for 582 yards last season.
LSU returns just three starters from a defense that saw eight players from its 2012 unit selected in last April’s NFL Draft. Leading the way on defense for the Tigers are linebacker Lamin Barrow (104 tackles in 2012), safety Craig Loston (55 tackles, 3 interceptions), and cornerback Jalen Mills (57 tackles, 2 interceptions).
The Tigers will start an entire new defensive front, which will be led by junior Anthony Johnson, who had 30 tackles and 10.0 tackles for loss a year ago. He will be joined up front by junior defensive tackle Ego Ferguson, junior defensive end Jermauria Rasco, and sophomore defensive end Danielle Hunter.
“Games like this are way more fun,” Mettenberger said of opening up with TCU. “We prepared all summer with a purpose knowing that we open up with TCU. It’s time to go play. We are ready to go and we are really excited to get the season underway.”