GAME NOTES: The eighth-ranked LSU Tigers continue their three-game homestand on Saturday night, as they entertain the Kent State Golden Flashes.
Although Kent State opened its season with a win over Liberty on Aug. 29, it was hardly an impressive affair, as it managed to defeat the FCS squad by just seven points (17-10). That disappointing effort carried over into the Golden Flashes' first Mid-American Conference bout with Bowling Green last weekend, as they dropped the contest on their home field, 41-22.
"It didn't end the way we wanted it," Kent State head coach Paul Haynes said of the matchup with Bowling Green. "But there was a lot of good things on film that we can build upon. We've got a long season to go. We've licked our wounds, and now we'll move forward and get ready for LSU."
LSU's season started off with a primetime showing against nationally-ranked TCU, and the Tigers came through with an outstanding 37-27 win to assert themselves as one of the top teams in the nation. They further solidified their elite status in their home opener last week by dismissing UAB, 56-17.
"It's nice to have a game where you really distance yourself from your opponent and you play quality football for the most part for four quarters," LSU head coach Les Miles said. "I think we can improve. We're 2-0, and I'm looking forward to the next contests."
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two football programs.
Kent State had one of the MAC's top offenses a year ago, but so far in 2013 the unit has been stuck in neutral, averaging fewer than 20 points per game behind a meager 331.5 ypg.
The absence of its star player certainly hasn't help matters, as Dri Archer, one of the nation's most dynamic playmakers, injured his ankle in the opener and hasn't seen the field since. He is listed as questionable for this contest.
Archer rushed for 1,429 yards (9.0 ypc) with 16 touchdowns last year, and in his absence Trayion Durham (116 yards, TD) and Colin Reardon (96 yards) have performed adequately on 54 combined carries.
Reardon's efficiency at quarterback has been strong despite the offense's slow start. He has completed more than 64 percent of his passes for 358 yards, tossing four touchdowns with no interceptions.
Chris Humphrey (10 receptions, 172 yards, two TDs) and Tyshon Goode (12 receptions, 99 yards) are Reardon's two most trusted receivers. Casey Pierce has just three catches but he emerges in the red zone with two touchdowns.
The Kent State defense has done little to impress, yielding just under 400 yards and 25.5 points per game. The unit has failed to record a turnover through the first two outings.
Matt Dellinger, Luke Wollet, DeVante Strickland and Darius Polk all have double-digit tackles. Roosevelt Nix has 4.0 TFL and Zack Hitchens has logged a pair of sacks.
LSU's offense has taken huge strides early on in the 2013 season (46.5 ppg, 446.5 ypg), thanks largely to the improvement of its senior signal caller.
Against UAB last week, Mettenberger became the first quarter in the program's illustrious 120-year history to throw five touchdowns passes in a game, giving him 533 yards (.627) on the year with six touchdowns and no interceptions.
"It's all about executing," Mettenberger said. "Around this time last year we just weren't executing too well. There were some mistakes that we left out on the field, but all in all, we did a very good job tonight and we can only get better from here."
Mettenberger's step up has directly benefited Jarvis Landry (13 rec., 180 yards, three TDs) and Odell Beckham, Jr. (10 rec., 254 yards, three TDs), both of whom have made several spectacular plays. It's strictly a two-man show at receiver, however, as no other player has more than two catches.
The Tigers have a stable of impressive rushers to turn to in the backfield. Terrence Magee leads the team with 102 yards and a pair of scores, while Alfred Blue (97 yards) and Kenny Hilliard (62 yards, TD) have also been effective. After serving a suspension in the opener, Jeremy Hill returned last week to rack up 50 yards and a score on just six carries.
As far as the defense in concerned, the Tigers have given up a few more points than they are used to (22.0 ppg), but in terms of yardage allowed they have been outstanding (277.5 ypg).
Jermauria Rasco leads the team in total tackles (11), tackles for loss (1.5) and sacks (1.5). Jalen Mills has two passes defended as well as the team's lone interception.
If Archer can suit up for this game, his playmaking ability will surely cause the LSU defense a few headaches, but regardless of his status, the Tigers should have very little problem dismissing a Kent State squad that has failed to show any signs of repeating its 2012 success when it went 11-3. Expect Mettenberger and his two stud receivers to hook up for some big plays in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 38, Kent State 17