The No. 5 LSU Tigers and the Texas A&M Aggies couldn't be on opposite sides of the SEC if they tried.
LSU (9-2, 6-1 SEC) will play in the SEC Championship Game a week from now where the Tigers will face No. 1 Georgia in Atlanta on Dec. 3. A win against the Bulldogs and LSU will likely earn a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Texas A&M (4-7, 1-6) began the year No. 6 in the AP preseason poll but has been one of the most disappointing teams in the nation. Not only will the Aggies not play in a bowl game, but head coach Jimbo Fisher has come under fire recently.
LSU leads the all-time series against Texas A&M 35-22-3. The Tigers won last year's matchup 27-24 in Baton Rouge.
No. 5 LSU at Texas A&M
When LSU Has the Ball
When Jayden Daniels transferred from Arizona State to LSU, it wasn't a sure bet he would be the team's starting quarterback. Not only has Daniels claimed the starting gig, but he has been one of the best players on the team.
In 11 games, Daniels has 2,377 passing yards, 15 touchdown passes, and has thrown just two interceptions with a 69.3 percent completion rate. He also leads the team with 740 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Daniels is fifth in the SEC in total offense at 283.4 yards per game.
This also has been necessary since the No. 2 rusher for LSU, running back Josh Williams, has just 481 yards. But he, Noah Cain, Armoni Goodwin, and John Emery Jr. have combined for 20 rushing touchdowns to supplement Daniels' production.
The Tigers' offense will go up against a Texas A&M defense that has been worn down as the season has progressed. The Aggies are ninth in conference-only games at 471.9 yards per game allowed and giving up 29 points per SEC contest. The big issue has been stopping teams on the ground. A&M is last in conference play at 249 rushing yards allowed per game, although the Aggies have only surrendered nine touchdowns on the ground in their seven SEC matchups.
When Texas A&M Has the Ball
Despite some declining results, the Aggies' defense has been able to keep them in games. But the offense simply hasn't gotten the job done. A&M ranks 96th nationally in total offense (355.0 ypg), 74th in passing (225.3 ypg), and 95th in rushing (125.7 ypg). Not surprisingly, the Aggies have struggled to score. They are last in the SEC and 108th overall at 21.4 points per game.
Quarterback play has been a huge issue as three different signal-callers have combined for 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. Highly regarded freshman Conner Weigman has been the starter for the past several games and he's yet to throw an interception (with 6 TDs). But he's completing 53.5 percent of his passes and is averaging 185.3 yards per game.
It would help if Weigman got some support from the running game, but that's been a struggle to begin with (team is averaging 4.5 yards per carry for the season), and leading rusher Devon Achane (887 yds., 6 TDs) has missed the last two games because of injury. Without Achane, A&M gained 207 yards and a touchdown on the ground last week against UMass, but the Aggies needed 38 carries to get there (5.45 ypc), and it's hard to get too excited given the competition.
Whatever game plan A&M decides to go with, LSU linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. better have the offensive line's full attention. The freshman has been on a tear lately, collecting 26 tackles (seven for a loss) and five sacks in his last four games. Two weeks ago against Arkansas, Perkins was near unblockable, registering three sacks and two forced fumbles in the 13-10 win.
Texas A&M comes into this game with zero pressure, as no one expects the Aggies to win. Also, they have played poorly recently, even in their win against UMass last Saturday.
LSU needs to win to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive. A convincing victory on the road against a mediocre Aggies team probably won't impress the committee that much. But the Tigers still need to focus on this week and not get caught looking ahead to the SEC Championship Game matchup with Georgia.
Texas A&M's defense should keep the Aggies in the game early. However, there's too much talent on both sides of the ball for LSU, so the Tigers should pull away late.
Prediction: LSU 37, Texas A&M 20
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— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders, and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.
*Price as of publication.