A comfortable win far from certain for LSU against BYU in the Dome

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It is a moment that LSU hopes to avoid Saturday night.

That is, BYU celebrating in the Big Easy.

The LSU-Brigham Young game, moved to New Orleans from Houston, figures to bring the most Cougar fans here since the 2011 NCAA tournament. Back then, BYU hero Jimmer Fredette scored 32 points in regulation of a Sweet 16 classic but was held scoreless in the overtime period of a nine-point Florida win.

However, the oddsmakers don’t think an upset will happen Saturday night. LSU is a solid 14.5 favorite over the Cougars.

That the game was moved to New Orleans could mean a bigger home field advantage for the Tigers.

BYU’s history against ranked teams since 2010 isn’t good either. In the past seven seasons, the Cougars have lost 10 of 11 games against Top 25 foes.

So, LSU should win, likely comfortably.

If you watched last week’s 20-6 BYU win over Portland State, you would probably come to the same conclusion.

The Cougars were good on defense, but thoroughly unimpressive on offense.

Be warned Tiger fans. That could be fool’s gold.

My guess is the Cougars were as basic and mundane in scheme on both sides of the ball as they could be. No use in showing LSU your complete deck of cards when just a solid outing would be enough to beat Portland State.

While LSU has the more talented club, BYU has lots of experience.

The Cougars start three seniors on the offensive line, and junior quarterback Tanner Mangum has 267 career completions.

According to BYU, the average age of their roster is 21.4 years and 32 of their players are married. That’s a high level of maturity for a college football team.

Meanwhile, LSU has some question marks. It is unknown how efficiently the offense can execute new coordinator Matt Canada’s scheme.

On defense, the Tigers are very young. Defensive lineman Christian LaCouture has 23 career starts while nose tackle Greg Gilmore has 13. Others in the front seven have far less. The secondary has many players stepping into the two-deep for the first time as well.

The Tigers will also be without future first round pick Arden Key, who is still rehabbing a shoulder injury.

The special teams unit includes an untested placekicker (Jake Gonsoulin) and kickoff man (Connor Culp).

While LSU will use frequent shifts and motion under Canada, the Tigers’ plan should be pretty simple. Just hand the ball to Heisman Trophy candidate Derrius Guice, early and often.

Head coach Ed Orgeron said this week that Guice was not 100 percent but he will play. The junior out of Baton Rouge Catholic recently had his wisdom teeth pulled.

In the meantime, non-conference openers can often say much about a team’s season.

In 2002, LSU lost their opener at Virginia Tech and won just eight games in a year after winning the national championship.

In 2011, LSU went to Dallas and mauled Oregon. The Tigers were on their way to an unbeaten regular season and the SEC title.

How about last year? The favored Tigers could muster only 257 yards of offense and 14 first downs in a 16-14 loss to Wisconsin at Lambeau Field.

Three games later, Les Miles was out, Orgeron was in and an extreme offensive makeover followed in the offseason.

Here’s a trend LSU fans hope holds true in the Dome this weekend. Last season, all of Orgeron’s six wins were by at least 15 points.

If the trend continues Saturday night, consider it an impressive start for the Purple and Gold.

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Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…

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