LSU vs. Texas A&M
A fast, speedy LSU team will face a tough challenge against a much-improved Texas A&M team in the Cotton Bowl.
LSU offense vs. Texas A&M defense
• Tigers RB Stevan Ridley will play in this game after initially being ruled academically ineligible, and that's good news for LSU. Ridley is the team's most complete back and averaged more than 18 carries per game this season. On the other side, Aggies inside linebackers Michael Hodges and Garrick Williams anchor one of the best run defenses in the country. They are strong wrap-up tacklers with good instincts and are rarely caught out of position. LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton can try to open up the ground game in a number of ways, including having utility man Russell Shepard play a bigger role. Shepard is an explosive athlete who can line up at running back or take snaps as the team's Wildcat quarterback when he doesn't line up at receiver. A second way is running more designed quarterback keepers with Jordan Jefferson, and a third is running more wide receiver screens. However, the Aggies can slow all three of these options because they play fundamentally sound run defense on all three levels. The front seven can keep Jefferson and Shepard contained while the defensive backs can minimize the impact of the Tigers' screens.