It's GameDay: LSU Opens Season Against Mean Green
Assoc. Athletic Director/Communications
BATON ROUGE - Not even a Hurricane can keep top-ranked LSU from playing on Saturday as rain or shine the Tigers will look to put another difficult week for the state of Louisiana behind them as North Texas comes to Tiger Stadium for the 2012 season opener for both teams.
Kickoff for the Tigers and Mean Green is scheduled for 6:02 p.m. CT with the game being televised nationally on ESPNU and streamed live on WatchESPN.com.
The game can also be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network (98.1 FM in Baton Rouge; www.LSUsports.net/live) with legendary broadcaster Jim Hawthorne and a pair of former Tiger standouts in Doug Moreau (analyst) and Gordy Rush (sidelines) calling the action.
After a couple days of uncertainty due to the impact of Hurricane Isaac, which pounded much of the state with record-setting rainfall and flooding, it was determined that the game would be played as scheduled on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. Saturday nights have been good to LSU as the Tigers are 45-3 under Miles in those contests.
|LSU At the Game programs are available on campus three hours prior to game time and online while supplies last.|
LSU brings three of the nation's longest winning streaks into the game as the Tigers have won 37 consecutive non-conference regular season games, 17 straight in Tiger Stadium and 13 in a row overall during the regular season. LSU's also won nine straight, and 15 of its last 16, season openers. The Tigers have also won 21 consecutive games played during the month of September, a streak that dates back to the 2006 season loss to Auburn.
LSU, which goes into the game ranked No. 1 in the nation in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the Associated Press Top 25, is coming off a 13-1 mark a year ago. LSU spent the last 11 weeks of the 2011 season ranked No. 1 in the nation as the Tigers claimed the Southeastern Conference title and reached the BCS National Championship Game.
North Texas, members of the Sun Belt Conference, is coming off a 5-7 record a year ago under second-year coach Dan McCarney. LSU is 4-0 all-time against the Mean Green with the last meeting between the teams coming in 2008 when the Tigers posted a 41-3 victory in Tiger Stadium. LSU has outscored the Mean Green, 198-13, in the four meetings.
Times of Interest
"We've had a really good camp and we're ready to lineup against someone else," head coach Les Miles said. "Our players are excited about getting back into Tiger Stadium in front of our fans and playing football.
"It's always exciting to open a new season with a new team. I'm looking forward to seeing how our team responds. Our preparation has been very good in all three phases. Now it's time to bring what we've worked on from the practice field to the game."
The Tigers will turn over the offense to junior Zach Mettenberger, who will be making his first start at quarterback for the Tigers. Mettenberger, a junior college All-America two years ago, played in five games last year during his first season with the Tigers, throwing for 92 yards and one touchdown in a limited role.
Mettenberger will be aided by an offensive line that returns four starters and a backfield that has its top four rushers from a year ago back. Junior Alfred Blue (539 yards, 7 TDs in 2011) is expected to start at running back for the Tigers, while Kenny Hilliard (336 yards, 8 TDs), Spencer Ware (707 yards, 8 TDs) and Michael Ford (756 yards, 7 TDs) all expected to get carries against North Texas.
When the Tigers go to the air, Mettenberger will likely key on sophomore Odell Beckham Jr., who is LSU's top returning receiver after hauling in 41 passes for 475 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a rookie in 2011. Sophomore Jarvis Landry ( 4 rec., 43 yards), Russell Shepard (14 rec., 190 yards, 4 TDs) and James Wright (5 rec., 41 yards) will also be active in the passing game for the Tigers.
Defensively, LSU returns three of its top four linemen from year ago led by the M&Ms (Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery). Mingo and Montgomery combined for 17 sacks and 28.5 tackles for losses in helping LSU to rank among the top five in the nation in four categories in 2011.
Mingo and Montgomery will be joined up front by junior Bennie Logan (57 tackles, 3.0 sacks), Josh Downs (9 tackles) and Anthony Johnson (12 tackles, 1.0 sack). Junior Kevin Minter (61 tackles) is the lone returning starter at linebacker. Luke Muncie and Lamin Barrow are expected to start alongside Minter at linebacker, but as many as five true freshmen could see action against the Mean Green.
Eric Reid, the quarterback in the secondary, returns as LSU's top tackler from a year ago with 76 to go along with a pair of interceptions and two tackles for loss. Craig Loston, Jalen Mills and Tharold Simon round out the secondary for the Tigers.
After Saturday, the Tigers will remain at home, hosting Washington of the Pac-12 next week at 6 p.m. on ESPN followed by a 7 p.m. contest against Idaho on Sept. 15 in what will be LSU's final tune-up before opening league play the following week at Auburn.