Dig Baton Rouge

Gameday Preview: LSU vs. Eastern Michigan

By Casey Gisclair
@Casey_Gisclair

Sometimes in life, David actually does beat Goliath.

This Saturday’s LSU football game likely won’t be one of those times. In this rendition of the Biblical tale, Goliath will likely splatter David’s guts all across the grassy plains where opposing team’s dreams go to die.

After beating Syracuse to improve to 3-0, the Tigers will now play host to Eastern Michigan – a MAC foe that is on the short list for the worst teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Eagles enter Death Valley after allowing 58 points against Army. The loss dropped Eastern Michigan to 1-3 on the season.

LSU Offense vs. Eastern Michigan Defense

That No. 7 fella is pretty good, right? Leonard Fournette may or may not win the Heisman Trophy, but he is the undisputed MVP of college football through the first four weeks of the season.

The sophomore halfback is far and away the most valuable player to LSU’s team – a young man who has quickly grown into a leadership position within the Bayou Bengals locker room. Fournette has 631 yards and eight touchdowns in three games – all while playing zero cupcake games against non-major-conference competition.

Fournette’s sheer dominance opens up things for LSU’s other playmakers to shine, namely wide receivers Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural. Against a woefully outmatched defense on Saturday, the Tigers should be able to pick a number between one and 70 and be able to hit it on the scoreboard if they so choose.

Eastern Michigan is beat up by injuries on defense, which doesn’t bode well. Linebacker Great Ibe is a good player, and defensive lineman Mike Brown is a nice player, as well, but the Eagles sorely lack depth, and LSU’s offensive line will break them down pretty early in the game.

Advantage: LSU

LSU Defense vs. Eastern Michigan Offense

This just in: The LSU defense is pretty good. Even after allowing heaps of garbage yardage late in Saturday’s game, the Tigers still let up fewer than 300 total yards against the Orange – a mark that shows exactly how dominant this group can be when they are at their best.

On the defensive line, freshman end Arden Key continues to star in his debut campaign. Key’s motor is fierce and disruptive to opposing offensive lines. Sophomore defensive tackle Davon Godchaux is a bear in the middle, as well. The Eagles will have to put helmets on both of those players if they expect to have success with the nice running game they’ve exhibited this season.

Eagles halfback Darius Jackson has 407 yards rushing in four games with seven touchdowns. When he’s not in the game, Darius Jackson is a threat, as well, with 240 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Brogan Roback is the Eagles quarterback, though he’s not much of a threat. He’s simply just not an SEC-caliber player.

Advantage: LSU

SPECIAL TEAMS

LSU’s special teams unit was pretty inconsistent on Saturday. They shanked a punt, had trouble in coverage at times and allowed the Orange to convert a fake punt. That’s not even mentioning Tre’Davious White’s decision to field a punt at the 2-yard-line.

White made up for it with a huge punt return touchdown that was one of the most explosive plays in Saturday afternoon’s game.

Believe it or not, but Eastern Michigan is actually very gifted on special teams – at least among their two specialists. Kicker Dylan Mulder is 6-of-7 on the season and has already connected on three kicks of 40 or more yards on the season, including a long of 52. Eagles punter Austin Barnes is good, as well. He’s bombed five punts of more than 50 yards out of his 14 tries this season.

LSU likely cleans up its sloppy special teams play versus the Eagles this Saturday.

Advantage: LSU

PREDICTION

This game won’t be close. Eastern Michigan is outmatched in every, single way and the Tigers will be able to pound the Eagles early before giving way to the pass. When a team comes into Tiger Stadium fresh off a 20-plus-point loss at home against Army, it’s not usually a good sign for the road team – especially when it’s Saturday night in Death Valley. LSU wins big and gives fans a chance to see plenty of underclassmen backups late in the game.

LSU 49, Eastern Michigan 6

LSU Tigers (3-0) vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-3)
Tiger Stadium (102,321); Baton Rouge, La.
Saturday, Oct. 3; 6:00 p.m.
TV: ESPNU; Radio: 98.1 FM

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