- Can Oregon’s O-line handle LSU’s defensive front?
This is storyline is going to be beaten like a dead horse throughout the game, and rightfully so. The Ducks offensive line got abused by Auburn’s D line in the national championship game, and it wasn’t the first time in Chip Kelly’s tenure Oregon has fallen in a big game because they got worked in the trenches (Boise State, Ohio State). All eyes will be on first time starting center Hroniss Grasu, who will be tested early and often by DC John Chavis’ aggressive defense.
- Suspensions anyone?
Jordan Jefferson, Russell Shepard, Cliff Harris, and Kiko Alonso. All impact players who won’t be taking the field tonight. Who needs to step up? Harris’ absence could be mitigated by Jefferson and Shepard also donning street clothes for the game. It’ll be up to Jarrett Lee and Rueben Randle to try to exploit Oregon’s freshman corner Terrance Mitchell. Alonso’s size in the middle will be sorely missed as a smaller Oregon defense attempts slow down LSU’s ground game.
- Too fast, too furious
The game is being billed as Pac-12 speed vs. SEC strength, but both teams can absolutely fly. Expect that to be on full display this evening, as the Ducks and Tigers will have the added benefit of playing on the Cowboys pro-turf indoors. If Russell Shepard and Cliff Harris weren’t suspended they could’ve held an actual track meet.
- Who has the better running game?
There’s been a lot of talk about LSU’s massive O-line (in size and talent) and how the Tigers plan to wear the Ducks defensive front down by pounding the rock. Oregon is going to be rotating up to eight guys in during the game to stay fresh, so it’ll be interesting to see if LSU’s plan will work. For all the talk about LSU’s potentially dominant ground game, Oregon averaged 100 yards more than the Tigers did on the ground in 2010.
- Some things to consider
Chip Kelly is winless in his Oregon career at neutral sites. The only QB’s that Chip Kelly has lost to at Oregon are Andrew Luck, Terrelle Pryor, Kellen Moore, and Cam Newton. Oregon is currently a four point favorite according to most Vegas lines. In a game that could well be decided by the turnover battle, it’s worth remembering how Jarrett Lee threw seven picks to the house in 08′ as a starter. If Oregon wins this game they’ll be in a golden position for another national championship run. If they lose they’ll be playing catchup the whole year while trying to prove a host a doubters wrong.
Prediction: 33-24 Oregon