Week 7 - South Carolina at LSU
LSU QB Zach Mettenberger
LSU QB Zach Mettenberger
Posted Oct 10, 2012

Week 7 Fearless Predictions - South Carolina at LSU

South Carolina (6-0) at LSU (5-1) Oct. 13, 8:00, ESPN

Here's The Deal: Step One for South Carolina during its brutal midseason scheduling stretch – check. The Gamecocks came out roaring against Georgia, getting up quickly and not letting up in a dominant 35-7 win that loudly announced that they're going to be deep in the national title chase. Step Two is this week's showdown against LSU, and then comes what might be the real killer on the lot with a trip to Florida, but the team is getting better as the season is going on and might just now be hitting its stride.

LSU is coming off its battle with Florida – a brutal street fight and a 14-6 Gator win – and now it's panic time. There's still plenty of time and several opportunities to turn things back around and get back in the national title chase, but with a road trip against Texas A&M up next followed up by dates against Alabama and Mississippi State, there's a chance the wheels could come off unless the offense starts playing much, much better.

The O line has been beaten up, the passing game isn't finding a spark, and the amazing defense wasn't able to carry the day in Gainesville. With lousy performances against Auburn and Towson, the Tigers are on a three-week downturn after starting out the year hot highlighted by an impressive blowout of Washington that seems like it happened ten years ago. However, a win over the No. 3 Gamecocks would be a shot of life into the season.

Considering some of the historic rivalries across the SEC, this isn't exactly a longtime rivalry with the two programs playing just 19 times with LSU going 16-2-1 and the last USC win coming in 1994 in Baton Rouge. South Carolina will have to make history to come away with the win, but this team seems capable of doing it.

Why South Carolina Might Win: The LSU offensive line that came into the season as one of the best in college football is trying to patch things together. Star left tackle Chris Faulk is already gone for the year with a knee injury, and guard Josh Willford is questionable after leaving the Florida game after getting knocked in the head. Center P.J. Lonergan is hurting and Josh Dwaraczyk is having issues with his leg.

South Carolina's defensive line has to be smelling blood.

The Florida defensive front held LSU to just 42 rushing yards and ranked out four sacks in a defensive domination. Florida's line is good; South Carolina's is better ranking fourth in the nation in sacks and allowing a mere 84 rushing yards per game. Georgia's offensive line didn't generate any sort of a push for Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who combined for just 76 yards on 25 carries, and struggled to keep quarterback Aaron Murray upright. The Gamecocks only came up with two sacks, but that's partly because Murray had to get the ball out of his hands in such a hurry. However …

Why LSU Might Win: LSU can bring the heat, too. South Carolina's offensive line hasn't been consistent at protecting Connor Shaw, and Sam Montgomery and the defensive front have been stellar with 12 sacks in the last three games.

While the offense has been a major problem, the Tiger defense hasn't had many problems ranking third in the nation allowing just 221 yards per game and second in pass defense. Florida didn't find anything deep with just 61 yards through the air and Washington's Keith Price was all but shut down in the 41-3 stomping. Georgia's D might be full of NFL talents, but this is the first time all year that Marcus Lattimore has faced a defensive with a front seven like this. The Gators' Mike Gillislee was able to pound away, but that was an aberration; the Gamecocks can't hit like Florida's can.

No one has lined up and blasted South Carolina's offensive line in the chops. Georgia's line is good and it's been able to open up holes for the fantastic backs, but it's not as physical as LSU's line can be when all the parts are working. Of course, there's a big question mark about whether or not the Tigers can be consistent up front with so many injuries, but don't be shocked if they come out with an attitude from the opening snap and run right at the terrific USC ends.

What To Watch Out For: Outside of a cramping problem, LSU middle linebacker Kevin Minter came up with the best defensive performance of 2012 cranking out 17 solo tackles, 20 stops in all, with three tackles for loss and two sacks with a forced fumble against the Gators. Usually there's nothing flashy about his game, but he's great against the run and last week he showed he could get behind the line time and again.

As good as Minter has been, and with all due respect to Sam Montgomery, South Carolina end Jadeveon Clowney is the defensive star of the show. The sophomore has more than lived up to the hype with 6.5 sacks so far and enough pressures to throw off everyone off. Too quick off the ball, he demands double teaming on a line full of player who need extra blocking.

What Will Happen: LSU's defense will shut down South Carolina's offense, giving Shaw his worst game of the season, while Lattimore will struggle to get 75 yards. LSU's offense will have an even tougher time. Zach Mettenberger hasn't been able to find his groove all season long, and the running game has suddenly gone nowhere thanks to the injuries on the line. It's not going to be a pretty game in any way, but unlike the Florida slugfest, at home under the lights, LSU will barely be on the right side this time around.

CFN Prediction: LSU 17 … South Carolina 13
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) LSU –2.5 O/U: 40
Must Watch Rating (5 – Argo, 1 – Pitch Perfect): 5