BATON ROUGE - Something has to give on Saturday night as two of the top defenses in college football collide when eighth-ranked LSU hosts third-ranked South Carolina in a key Southeastern Conference contest in Tiger Stadium.
Kickoff between the Tigers and the Gamecocks is slated for 7:06 p.m. in a sold out Tiger Stadium, a place where LSU has gone 35-1 under Les Miles in Saturday night games since 2005. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN with Brent Musberger, Kirk Herbstreit and Heather Cox calling the action.
Locally, the game will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network and in the Geaux Zone on www.LSUsports.net/live with legendary Voice of the Tigers Jim Hawthorne describing the action for the listener. Hawthorne will be joined on the call by a pair of former Tiger greats in Doug Moreau and Gordy Rush.
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LSU, which is 17-1 under Miles following a loss, is 5-1 overall and 1-1 in SEC action following last week's 14-6 setback to Florida in Gainesville. South Carolina jumped to No. 3 in the polls this week following its 35-7 thrashing of Georgia last week. The Gamecocks are 6-0 overall and 4-0 in conference play.
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Saturday's game will be the first between LSU and South Carolina since 2008 when the Tigers used a late touchdown to beat the Gamecocks, 24-17, in Columbia. The teams last played in Tiger Stadium in 2007 with the Tigers winning, 28-16.
No current members of the South Carolina team have ever played in Tiger Stadium, a place where LSU currently holds the nation's longest winning streak at 21 straight.
"There's nothing better than Saturday Night in Tiger Stadium," Miles said. "Tiger Stadium is truly one of the great venues in all of sports and our crowd makes this a very special place. We are looking forward to getting back into Tiger Stadium for a night SEC game."
The South Carolina contest will mark LSU's first night SEC game in Tiger Stadium since September of 2010 when the Tigers beat Mississippi State, 19-7. Last year was the first time in school history that LSU didn't host a night SEC game.
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Saturday's game between LSU and South Carolina will feature two of the top defenses in college football. LSU is second in the nation in pass defense (122.5 yards per game), No. 3 in total defense (221.0 ypg) and No. 8 in scoring defense (12.83 ppg).
South Carolina, which features one of the top defensive ends in college football in Jadeveon Clowney, is allowing 10.5 points per game (4th nationally) and 83.8 rushing yards per game (9th nationally).
If LSU expects to have success on Saturday against South Carolina, then they are going to have to get something going offensively. Last week against Florida, LSU managed just a pair of field goals and was only 1-of-13 on third-down conversions in the defeat. LSU has scored just one touchdown in its last 12 quarters against SEC teams.
"We have a good plan," Miles said of the offensive game plan against South Carolina. "We've had a good week of installing the game plan. Now it's about going out and executing. We have to protect the quarterback and we have to establish the line of scrimmage."
The Tigers are expected to start their fifth different offensive line combination against South Carolina as redshirt freshman Trai Turner will likely start in the place of injured Josh Williford. Williford was injured last week in the first half against Florida and has missed practice time this week.
The Tigers could also be without the services of senior tackle Alex Hurst, who has missed time this week dealing with what Miles called a personal issue. Sixth-year senior Josh Dworaczyk is expected to start in place of Hurst at left tackle.
LSU will continue to rely on the running and pass catching ability of junior Spencer Ware, who is averaging 6.0 yards every time he touches the football. Ware has rushed for 183 yards on 40 carries and he's caught four passes for 73 yards.
"We have to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers," Miles said earlier this week. "We have to get Spencer the football and give him a chance to make plays."
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has thrown for 1,174 yards, six touchdowns and just three interceptions this year in directing the LSU offense.
South Carolina will look to neutralize the LSU offense with a unit that has already recorded 25 sacks and 49 tackles for loss. Clowney leads the Gamecocks with 11.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.
Defensively, the Tigers will have to find a way to contain South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, who has rushed for 549 yards and nine touchdowns this year. He also leads Carolina in receptions with 18, which he's turned into 133 yards.
"(Marcus) Lattimore is a very dynamic back," Miles said. "He does so many things for them, but they have more than just him on offense. Their quarterback is very good and he can make plays with both his arm and his feet."
South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw is completing 76 percent of his passes (56-of-74) for 733 yards, seven touchdowns and just two interceptions.
"We are excited to be back in Tiger Stadium, facing a quality opponent," Miles said. "This game presents a great opportunity for this team to bounce back. We've had a good week of practice. This team understands the challenges that South Carolina presents. They are a very good football team. The key for us is to play LSU football and to only focus on the things that we can control."