The top game of the weekend will be affected greatly by suspensions.
The most anticipated game of the college football opening weekend has to be Oregon and LSU meeting in Cowboys Stadium. A main storyline going into this contest is the suspension of two key players: Tigers' quarterback Jordan Jefferson and Ducks' cornerback/punt returner Cliff Harris.
Who will be the bigger loss in this game, Jordan Jefferson for LSU or Cliff Harris for Oregon?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Even though the reports out of practice were positive on Jordan Jefferson’s development for LSU, I think the bigger loss is Cliff Harris. Jefferson’s suspension doesn’t change the Tigers’ approach on offense. With a powerful offensive line and rising star Spencer Ware at running back, LSU can pound away at a rebuilt Oregon front seven. Although Jefferson is out, Jarrett Lee and Zach Mettenberger are capable of leading the Tigers to a victory. Senior Anthony Gildon will become Oregon’s top corner and could be assigned to slow down Rueben Randle on the outside. Filling Harris’ spot will be redshirt freshman Terrance Mitchell. Not only will Harris’ suspension be felt on defense, but special teams also take a hit. Harris was one of the nation’s top punt returners and special teams could play a key role in a close game.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I believe Jordan Jefferson is the bigger loss, mainly because his suspension just happened. While Harris is an All-America corner and dynamic returner, the Ducks have had all summer and August practice to plan and prepare for his absence. Jefferson was inconsistent last season, but many believe he was headed towards a bounce-back senior campaign. JJ did have 17 touchdown passes against seven interception in 2009 and has been at the helm for many LSU wins. Jarrett Lee, who is mainly known for throwing interceptions back in 2008, will now take over at signal caller. Zach Mettenberger may play as well, but neither one gives the Tigers the running option that Jefferson (450 yards and seven scores last season) provides. While Harris will be missed by Oregon, I see LSU missing Jordan Jefferson more.
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
I’ll go with Cliff Harris. Despite being a bigger impact player on special teams than defense up until this point in his career, Harris was close to becoming arguably the nation's top cover man (at least the best west of the Mississippi River). With the reworked Ducks' front-seven, the secondary was going to be the strength of the defense. It takes a big hit without Harris. Jefferson, while all signs were pointing to his best season, has never truly developed and fulfilled his potential. Jarrett Lee made plenty of big throws last season and some Bayou Bengals have been calling for Zach Mettenberger since he signed in February. There is a chance that losing Jefferson was a blessing in disguise for LSU.