Previewing LSU Tigers vs. TCU Horned Frogs

Jeremy Hill-LSU Tigers

Crystal Logiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Who: No. 12 LSU vs. No. 20 TCU

Where: Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas

Time: 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

The game between the Tigers and Horned Frogs will be the first games for each team’s best offensive player since returning from suspension. Horned Frogs quarterback Casey Pachall left the team four games into the season to enter rehab for substance abuse, and Tigers running back Jeremy Hill faced battery charges this offseason.

Meanwhile, the suspension of Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields is a huge blow to the Horned Frogs, who will be without the defensive end for the first two games.

When LSU has the ball:

New offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has the task of getting quarterback Zach Mettenberger’s production to match his vast potential. Mettenberger could be in store for a Joe Flacco-like breakout in 2013. He will be assisted by Jarvis LandryOdell Beckham Jr. and a punishing run game led by Hill, who averaged 97.7 yards per start after the injury to Alfred Blue.

TCU’s defense will miss the presence of Fields, who recorded 10 sacks as a freshman in 2012. However, the Horned Frogs return eight starters from last year’s No. 16 unit. Patterson’s 4-2-5 scheme returns each starter in the secondary, including All-American candidate Jason Verrett and safety Sam Carter.

When TCU has the ball:

Pachall was on fire before his off-field demons got the best of him last year, and he had 10 touchdowns to just a single interception in the team’s first four games as they started out 4-0. Without him, the wheels fell off and the Horned Frogs finished 3-6 the rest of the way.

If he looks like the quarterback from 2011 and the first month of 2012, the offense will be able to move the ball against LSU, especially with the return of running back Waymon James and promising receiver Brandon Carter.

LSU traditionally boasts one of the best defenses in the country, but that will be put to the test this season after losing eight starters. However, LSU has had to replace a host of All-Americans in the past and have reloaded just fine, and that will be the case this season.

Anthony Johnson at tackle will be in the face of Pachall all evening, and Lamin Barrow and Craig Loston will make life difficult for James and Carter. The names on defense may not be household names just yet, but they will be after the opener vs. TCU.

A win over LSU will give credence to the belief that TCU can win the Big 12, but that is easier said than done without Fields against one of the top teams in the country. For LSU, this is business as usual as Les Miles’ team looks to get a quality win over a top-25 opponent in the opener.

Patrick’s a college football writer for Rant Sports and radio host on Sportstownchicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt and add him to your Google network.

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