Dig Baton Rouge

Can LSU rebound with Syracuse?

Last week, everything went wrong for LSU.

This week, the Tigers are looking to find that feel good feeling again.

Fresh off a disastrous loss at Mississippi State, the LSU football team will return home to Tiger Stadium tonight for a 6 p.m. kickoff against Syracuse.

The teams aren’t evenly matched on paper. LSU is a 22-point favorite in the game.

But after a stinker last week in Starkville, coach Ed Orgeron said any chance to compete is worthwhile, adding that LSU has had a good week of practice in getting ready for the Orange.

“We’re looking forward to Saturday night in Tiger Stadium,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “We had a good week of preparation. It was not perfect, but I have to give the guys credit. They put the last game behind us on Monday. We continued to work hard and paid attention to detail, especially on defense.”

For LSU, the key will be cleaning up the penalties.

The Tigers committed nine penalties for 112 yards last week, including two penalties which negated touchdowns and two targeting violations.

Orgeron said he made the offenders run this week in practice, adding that becoming a more disciplined team will be of utmost importance this week for the team.

On the other sideline is Syracuse, a rebuilding program under coach Dino Babers.

The Orange utilize an up-tempo offense led by quarterback Eric Dungey, who leads the team in both passing and rushing.

The Orange are 2-1 on the season and are fresh off a 41-17 victory over Central Michigan.

The week before that, they lost to Middle Tennessee 30-23.

Facing an up-tempo offense with a thin defensive line is a problem but the Tigers will be boosted by the return of defensive end Rashard Lawrence, who hasn’t played since the season opener against BYU.

Lawrence is a disruptive, physical force in the middle. His return should help an LSU defense that got gashed at times last Saturday against the Bulldogs.

“I think it’ll be limited for Rashard,” Orgeron said. “We need to get in the game and see how he’s doing. We’ll have a rotation there, but it brings us some stability on the defensive line. We’re very thin as it is right now. He’s a leader and he gives us some confidence going into games. We’ll start him and see how he plays.

LSU offense vs. Syracuse defense

Advantage: LSU

LSU’s offense is having an identity crisis right now under offensive coordinator Matt Canada. The Tigers want to play fast, but don’t look like they have the personnel to do it properly. But this isn’t an SEC opponent. I think LSU will make big things happen and get about 500 yards of offense against a Syracuse defense that struggles against elite speed and talent.

LSU defense vs. Syracuse offense

Advantage: LSU

Look, LSU is thin right now on the defensive line and that hurts. But the truth is always somewhere in the middle, right? The Tigers aren’t as bad as they played last Saturday and they aren’t as good as they played in the opener against BYU. They’re likely somewhere in the middle, which ought to be plenty good enough to get past Syracuse.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Advantage: LSU

The Tigers’ special teams units have struggled, but I have a hunch. Something tells me that they will right the ship and find a way to make something positive happen against Syracuse. I will be the first one to admit if I’m wrong, but I’m going with my gut on this one.

DIG’S PICK

LSU 41, Syracuse 13

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