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Expect to see plenty of defense in this game. TCU led the Big 12 last year defensively and return almost that entire unit, while LSU is a perennial defensive powerhouse. Even with only two projected senior starters for the Tigers on defense, they are still listed as one of the best due to recruiting. The question marks fall on the other side of the ball for both teams.
The Horned Frogs haven't declared a starting quarterback yet, but Casey Pachall will be the likely winner. After taking a leave of absence from the team last year, Pachall is back and according to his coaches, "a new person." Whether that means good things on the field, remains to be seen. The only major starter gone from TCU's offense is receiver Josh Boyce. The good news is that they still have plenty of depth at the receiver spot. And at running back, Waymon James is back after missing most of last year. If the Horned Frogs can't move the ball on the ground against the strength of LSU, it's going to fall on Pachall (or Trevone Boykin) to score points. In last year's bowl game against a stout defense, TCU just didn't have enough offense with Boykin at the helm. Will that change this season?
As for the Tigers, they had various problems last year with their offense. Zach Mettenberger never planted himself as a great quarterback, which hurt them in their losses after finishing with just 12 TDs and seven INTs. With RB Jeremy Hill suspended, it's going to fall on a few backs to take his spot, most notably Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue. Mettenberger's two leading WRs from last year are back in Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, so hopefully they worked on their game in the offseason.
Both teams disappointed in the betting market last year. The Tigers are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games overall, while the Horned Frogs are no better at 2-5 ATS in their last seven games and 0-6 ATS in their last six neutral site games. In the points department, all of the numbers point to the under for TCU. That's due to their defensive dominance in their last four games of the 2013 season.
The bottom line in this one is this. If you compare the two programs, historically, LSU is the better program by a mile. LSU wins 11 games a year with regularity and that's in the SEC. TCU had there share of fantastic seasons but that was when they played in a cupcake conference with a cupcake schedule. Stepping up in class and playing in the Big 12 saw a mediocre 7 win season with losses to the best teams they played. Fortunately for them, they get LSU first, before their Big 12 schedule wears them down.
We're going to side with the better program from the better conference in this one, as more times than not, that combination gets the "W" and gets the money. LSU-4
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