Washington vs. LSU Keys to the Game

                                                                                Photo Credit: Tiger Tailgating

The Washington Huskies are a 24 point underdog on many betting lines heading into tonight’s showdown in Baton Rouge with the LSU Tigers. What do the Huskies have to do to shock the nation’s 3rd ranked team. Here are a few keys to the game, plus a prediction.

Keys to the Game:

1) Force Zach Mettenberger to throw the ball – LSU under Les Miles has been a classic ground and pound team. Their offensive line prides itself on winning the game in the trenches. For the Huskies to keep this game close, they need to force LSU to go to the air more than they would like. Zach Mettenberger has yet to be tested in his short career as starter thus far, and by making him air it out tonight will keep the Huskies in it. UW will need to rely on Desmond Trufant, Shaq Thompson and the rest of the secondary to do well in man coverage. Look for defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox to stack the box repeatedly in order to force more passes from Mettenberger.

2) Establish some semblance of a ground attack – With Jesse Callier out for an extended period of time, the running game will be in the hands of Bishop Sankey. This will be the toughest run defense the Huskies have seen in the past few years. But in order for Keith Price to have success through the air, the ground game needs to keep the Tigers honest. If LSU is allowed to drop into coverage without much of a threat from Sankey, it will be a long night.

3) Fast start – If LSU is able to establish their running game early, this one will be over by halftime. The Huskies need to come out with great intensity and be willing to take risks on defense in order to turn the ball back over to Price. If UW plays it safe on both offense and defense, that will not bode well for the final score. By keeping it close early, that makes it anyone’s game in the second half, and might start to worry LSU. Just like games against Nebraska and Baylor last season, although Washington didn’t win, they kept it close for much of the game.

Prediction: Although the point spread is at 24, I just cannot envision LSU winning by that big of a margin. This is a game that would have signaled blowout in years past, but that won’t be the case this time. Keith Price will be a difference maker on this national stage, and keep the game close throughout. With that said, until Washington shows they can win the big non-conference road game, I cannot bring myself to pick them, especially in Death Valley tonight. LSU will establish their running game in the second half, allowing the Tigers to sneak by the Huskies.

LSU 31-24