- Brian Fremeau, ESPN Insider
The college football championship race won't be decided the first weekend, but the Oregon Ducks versus LSU Tigers matchup Saturday night could have huge ramifications come December. It's rare to have a game between top-five opponents this early in the year, and while the loser won't necessarily be out for the count, the winner will receive a résumé boost that could pay dividends in the polls throughout the season.
Of course, the game dynamics were shifted significantly with last week's off-the-field news out of Baton Rouge. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson has been suspended indefinitely following his involvement in a bar fight, forcing the Tigers to turn to senior Jarrett Lee for the opener.
The LSU offense isn't expected to fire on all cylinders after undergoing a change at starting QB so close to the season, but the numbers show us that may not matter. The reason? If the Tigers can produce as many big plays on defense and special teams as they did last season, the loss of Jefferson could be negligible -- and they'll still have a good shot at knocking off the Ducks Saturday night.
Brian Fremeau of Football Outsiders writes about the importance of big plays for LSU and Oregon ahead of Saturday's season opener, and explains why the loss of starting QB Jordan Jefferson is something the Tigers can overcome.