Why losing Jefferson won't matter
The Tigers and Ducks rely on big plays, but LSU's aren't of the offensive variety
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.
To read Brian Fremeau's full take on how LSU can overcome the loss of starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson against Oregon, become an ESPN Insider today.
Brian FremeauESPN Insider
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com