Game preview: LSU vs Florida State

Game preview: LSU vs Florida State

The Matchup

LSU (0-0) vs Florida State (1-0)

Game time: Sunday, Sept. 4,6:30 PM CT

TV/Streaming:  ABC and Watch ESPN APP

Radio: 105.3 FM (New Orleans), 98.1 FM (Baton Rouge) and 103.7 FM (Lafayette)

What’s at stake

For Florida State it’s an opportunity to move to 2-0 for the first time since 2016 and give third-year head coach Mike Norvell some much-needed momentum that could potentially keep the proverbial ‘hot seat’ cool for the time being.

For LSU and new head coach Brian Kelly, it’s all about establishing identity and getting that first big win in what proves to be an immediate litmus test for Tiger fans to gauge the start of the Brian Kelly era in Baton Rouge.

When LSU has the ball

All the attention will undoubtedly be on the man under center, whomever that may be. Brian Kelly has made his decision within the program on who will start Sunday night’s game, but has remain tight lipped after deciding not to release that information publicly in what he views as a tactical advantage heading into Sunday’s matchup with FSU.

Quarterback play has the potential to make or break this game for the Tigers, but I really feel like LSU is going to come out and try to establish a strong running game against a depleted FSU linebacking corps that is down two key players with a recent injuries to junior linebacker Amari Gainer and Stephen Dix Jr.

LSU running back Noah Cain will likely see the bulk of the carries with expected starter John Emery suspended to start the season.  I expect the Penn State transfer to get a decent workload with opportunities being given to Armoni Goodwin and Josh Williams to get the hot hand.  Quarterback Jayden Daniels is a guy that can tuck and run and get involved in the running game as well.

In the passing game LSU has one of the best receivers in the SEC in Kayshon Boutte, and plenty of supporting talent in Malik Nabers, Jaray Jenkins and Brian Thomas Jr, to name a few. The wide receiver room for the Tigers is considered to be one of the strengths of the team heading into the season.

When FSU has the ball

Last week against Duquesne, Florida State ripped off 406 yards rushing and had three running backs with 100-plus yard performances. But that was Duquesne. The Seminoles will definitely look to establish the running game and alleviate the pressure on Jordan Travis, but LSU has one of the best defensive fronts that the Seminoles will see all season.

It starts on the edge with BJ Ojulari and Ali Gaye who can be a nuisance with their pass rush, but the difference makers might be the big fellas on the inside in Jaquelin Roy and Maason Smith.

The Seminoles will not find the level of success they had against the Dukes of Duquesne. Look for LSU to force quarterback Jordan Travis to beat him through the passing game, the question is, can he? That LSU secondary is loaded with talent as well and the Tigers defense will be looking to put on a show against their ACC foe.

Key Tigers to watch

The obvious choice here would be either Jayden Daniels or Garrett Nussmeier whichever one Kelly decides to roll with and while they will definitely play one of the biggest factors in the game, I’ve got an interesting name for you to keep your eye on when Sunday night rolls around. Will Campbell. Who is Will Campbell you might ask? Campbell is a 6-foot-6, 325-pound true freshman who will be starting at left tackle for LSU. He was one of the top offensive linemen that came out of the class of 2022 and started all four years of high school at Monroe (LA) Neville High School.

This is quite the stage for a true freshman fresh out of high school, to not only start at left tackle in the first game of the season but closing out the opening week of college football in primetime on Sunday night in front of 70,000-plus at the Caesars Superdome going up against an ACC squad trying to get back to relevance.

On the defensive side of the ball there’s almost too many guys to list, but with FSU looking to establish the running game again this week it comes down to the fellas up front. Jaquelin Roy, Masson Smith, BJ Ojulari and Ali Gaye will all be guys to watch up front for LSU as they’ll look to wreak havoc in both the running and passing game against FSU. Ojulari is the most talented of the four and was a pre-season All-SEC selection and should be one of the best defensive players in the country this season.

The bottom line

I think both teams will come out trying to establish the running game to open up the passing game, LSU has the better talent up front defensively and while I don’t think the Tigers will run away with it, I think Brian Kelly gets his first win as an LSU Tiger, with the Tigers covering the -3 spread.

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