The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game between Boise State and Georgia is big, but the match-up to be played in Cowboys Stadium will be the highlight of the weekend. Oregon looks to get back to the BCS championship game this season and their quest begins against another SEC West team that plays solid defense, LSU.
Both teams have had some troubling off-field news lately that will play a role in this game. LSU has indefinitely suspended quarterback Jordan Jefferson and linebacker Josh Johns for their roles in a bar fight, and wide receiver Russell Shepherd has been declared ineligible for a violation of an NCAA rule. Oregon will be without cornerback Cliff Harris, who was suspended indefinitely for driving at high speeds without a valid license, and running back Lache Seastrunk has transferred to Baylor. Seastrunk was one of the names at the center of an NCAA investigation in to improper booster and recruiting violations.
But despite all of that, Oregon and LSU will make for a great opening weekend clash as college football gets underway. Here is how our panel is approaching this weekend’s game of the week.
Note: These predictions were made Sunday. If any writer chooses to alter their thoughts we will update this post as needed.
The game of the week is clearly Oregon vs. LSU in Cowboys Stadium, and both teams appear to be bringing some off-field baggage to the game. Give us your quick take on this game, and share prediction. (We’ll keep tabs on the game of the week predictions all season for some fun and bragging rights)
Stephen Francis, Dallas Sports Examiner: This one should be a lot of fun. However, last week’s news that both starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and backup linebacker Joshua Johns likely won’t play for the Tigers deals a significant blow to LSU.
The Oregon Ducks will be without cornerback/kick returner Cliff Harris. While he is an explosive playmaker for the Ducks, it doesn’t seem to be as vital of a loss for them. As Oklahoma saw in 2009, it’s very difficult to change starting quarterbacks at the last minute and expect success. Having said that, this could still be a close and entertaining game that will go down to the final minutes.
Sean Jackson, Ohio State Buckeyes Examiner: LSU’s defense should be an interesting test for Oregon’s high-octane offense. If LSU controls the tempo, they win. With that said, Oregon is tough to stop and will prevail in a great contest 34-27.
Troy Hyde, Iowa Hawkeyes Examiner: Yes, both teams have baggage, but the way college football is going, most weeks will feature two teams with baggage. Not really but it could be heading that way. It is hard to predict this game because of what is going on with the four players from LSU, most importantly its starting quarterback. If the QB sits, LSU loses. However, Oregon has a chance to win the game even with LSU’s starting quarterback in there. Because of Oregon’s recent history, I am going to take the Ducks to open the season with a win. I just like what the program has done the past few seasons under Chip Kelly and I think they find a way to get it done with or without Jefferson in the game for LSU.
Schimri Yoyo, Big East Examiner: The winner of this game should also win the title “Most Salacious Offseason.” With that said, I think all of the recent turmoil in Baton Rouge will be too much to overcome.
Rich Kurtzman, Colorado State Rams Examiner: Oregon versus LSU. Just saying the matchup out loud elicits excitement.
Last season, Oregon was the No. 1 scoring offense in the nation (47 PPG), with most of their production coming on the ground from their workhorse LaMichael James. James is already a preseason favorite to win the Heisman, but can he handle to load once again this season and carry the Ducks to glory?
On the other hand, LSU sported one of the best defenses in college football last season, giving up a mere 18.2 PPG to their opponents. Linebacker Ryan Baker and Drake Nevis are the catalysts for the Tigers’ defense; Baker led the team in sacks (7) and Nevis led in tackles for a loss (13) with the other being No. 2 in each category. Baker is a senior this season, likely looking to improve over last year, but LSU lost Nevis and it will be important for them to have someone step up in the interior of their defensive line.
This game boils down to the unstoppable force (Oregon) against the immovable object (LSU) and it will be incredibly fun to watch when the Ducks are on offense.
Kevin, National College Football Examiner: To me there are some similarities between this game and the BCS National Championship game. Oregon’s high-flying offense last year was incredible, but when matched up with a solid defense we saw that they could be beaten. That, in my opinion, plays in LSU’s favor no matter who they have missing from the lineup.
The loss of quarterback Jordan Jefferson changes LSU’s outlook this season. I have made Alabama even more of a favorite in the SEC West and although I think LSU is still going to be a very good team despite the off-field issues, I think enough has changed to sway me in the other direction for this game. I don’t know that Oregon is going to put up a huge amount of points in the game, but if I have to put faith in either offense to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter with the outcome still to be determined, I have to give the edge to the Ducks today.
Staff predictions (scores optional)
- Francis: Oregon 34, LSU 30
- Hyde: Oregon 27, LSU 21
- Jackson: Oregon 34, LSU 27
- Kurtzman: Oregon 35, LSU 31
- McGuire: Oregon 24, LSU 17
- Yoyo: Oregon 38, LSU 28
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