Five things: LSU-Texas A&M

November, 23, 2013
11/23/13
7:00
AM ET
Saturday's LSU-Texas A&M game was supposed to have a say in who wins the SEC West. Instead, it's just another game. Both teams already are out of contention, and the outcome will determine only bowl positioning at this point.

But don't tell LSU tell that. The Tigers are salivating at the chance to face Johnny Manziel and this Aggies team. Here are five things to watch from Saturday's game.

Containing Manziel: No team played Manziel better last season than LSU. The Heisman Trophy winner finished 29 of 56 with no touchdowns and three interceptions against the Tigers. It was his worst college game to date as far as completion percentage, touchdown-to-interception ratio and Total QBR. Now this is a totally different LSU defense, one that has struggled at times, but defensive coordinator John Chavis will have a game plan to stop the Texas A&M quarterback. There's no guarantee it will work, especially with Manziel gunning for his second Heisman Trophy, but previous success can't hurt LSU's chances.

Back-to-back losses: LSU is coming off a physical, hard-fought loss to No. 1 Alabama, but the Tigers have two things working in their favor. First, they had last week off to rest up, get healthy and prepare for Texas A&M. Second, they have maybe the best coach in college football when it comes to responding to a loss. LSU is 22-1 under Les Miles following a loss. The last time the Tigers lost back-to-back games was in 2008, when they were stunned by Arkansas the week after losing to Ole Miss. Needless to say, the disappointing loss to Alabama is in the past, and there will be no memory of it come Saturday. It's on to Texas A&M.

Staying grounded: Jeremy Hill had established himself as one of the top running backs in the SEC a few weeks ago and was closing in on 1,000 yards before the Alabama game. But against the Crimson Tide, he finished with a season-low 42 yards. It didn't help that LSU abandoned the run in the second half or that Terrence Magee was given a significant number of carries. This week, the sophomore back needs just 36 yards to surpass 1,000, but he's hoping to go well over that mark against an Aggies' defense that is next-to-last in the conference at defending the run. Expect LSU to stick to its ground game on Saturday.

Success on third down: LSU has seen its share of struggles this season, but not when it comes to third-down conversions. In fact, the Tigers lead the nation in that category, converting 64 of 111 (57.7 percent) on third down. Even in the loss to Alabama, they were 7 of 12. At this rate, they are on pace to shatter the LSU record for third-down offense, set back in 2001. That team converted 100 of 196 chances (51 percent) on third down. This year, Texas A&M is the next closest in the SEC at 52.9 percent, giving more reason as to why Saturday has all the makings of a shootout in Death Valley.

Home-field advantage: Tiger Stadium is one of the more hostile environments in college football, and although it's Manziel first trip to Death Valley, he likely won't be fazed. The Aggies have yet to lose a game on the road or at neutral site since Manziel took over as the starting quarterback. It also helps that the game will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT. History shows that LSU is much better at home once the sun goes down. Texas A&M fans shouldn't get too excited, though. Miles is 55-7 at home, and the Tigers have lost only two home games since 2009.

Greg Ostendorf | email

Auburn/SEC reporter

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