Hurting Huskies Face Long Odds At LSU Tigers
By: Willie Bee
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Pac-12 meets SEC this Saturday when the Washington Huskies travel to Baton Rouge to tackle the LSU Tigers in a nationally televised contest.
Kickoff from Tiger Stadium will be at 7:05 p.m. (ET) with ESPN's cameras on hand to document what is expected to be a one-sided affair. Louisiana State opened as 23½-point chalk for the clash, and an initial 56-point total was quickly pushed down to 53 on the Don Best Pro Odds by Tuesday afternoon.
Both teams got their 2012 campaigns off on winning notes this past weekend, though neither managed to cover the spreads. Washington fought off a stubborn San Diego State squad, 21-12, thanks to three turnovers by the Aztecs. The Huskies closed as 15½-point favorites and the contest easily stayed 'under' the 55½-point mark.
LSU had an easier time with North Texas State in a 41-14 triumph, but never came close to beating the 42½-point gap that oddsmakers listed for the contest. A late TD by the Tigers sent that matchup above the 52-point total.
The best news for Les Miles and the Tigers is they emerged from their opener in relatively good health. The same can't be said for Steve Sarkisian and the Huskies who are going to be minus three key starters down on the bayou against the nation's third-ranked team.
Tailback Jesse Callier tore his right ACL in the San Diego State game and will be lost for the season. Washington plans to redshirt the sophomore who suffered the injury without being touched while making a cut on a swing pass. The loss of Callier further depletes the Huskies' backfield after Deontae Cooper suffered the same injury during summer camp.
Sophomore Bishop Sankey will now step into the starting tailback role and is backed up by true freshman Erich Wilson II.
Starting right tackle Ben Riva went down with a fractured right forearm which could sideline him for several weeks, if not the entire season if surgery is required. Riva's absence is forcing Sarkisian and his staff to scramble on the offensive line which could see three sophs starting against LSU's big defensive wall. On the defensive side, end Hau'oli Jamora was lost for the year with an ACL tear.
Huskies QB Kevin Price could be running for his life all evening if the revamped offensive line doesn't establish itself early and open holes for the running game. He completed 25-of-35 aerials against SDSU, with Austin Seferian-Jenkins (9 rec.) and Kasen Williams (6 rec.) his favorite targets.
Washington's defense is also going to have to do a much better job stopping the run than the unit did vs. the Aztecs. San Diego State just fell short of 200 yards on the ground, and the Huskies now face an LSU ground attack that featured two backs topping the 100-yard mark in the win over North Texas. Kenny Hilliard had a personal best 141 yards on 13 carries, two of them good for six points. Alfred Blue added 123 yards on 16 carries.
Their effort marked the first time in 30 season openers that the Tigers had two 100-yard backs; a family connection joins those two games with Hilliard's uncle, Dalton Hilliard, part of the previous dual 100-yard RB back in 1982.
Zach Mettenberger got his first start at QB for the Tigers and responded with a rather ho-hum showing last week, passing for 192 yards on a 19-of-26 line. He was intercepted late in the first half with LSU knocking on the door for a score while leading 24-7, but finally found the end zone through the air on the first play of the fourth quarter with a 34-yard scoring strike to Kadrone Boone.
LSU will be trying to tie a school record with its 19th consecutive home win Saturday while stretching its streak of September triumphs to 23. The Tigers were No. 3 in last week's Don Best Linemakers Poll, and remain there in the latest rankings while also sitting third in both the AP and coaches polls this week. Washington is just outside of those two polls (26th by coaches, 32nd in AP), failing to make the top 30 of the Don Best ratings.
Both previous meetings between the schools have resulted in LSU victories, the most recent in 2009 when the Tigers rallied from an early deficit for a 31-23 win in Seattle as 18-point favorites.