Last Modified: Friday, November 22, 2013 6:52 PM
BATON ROUGE — Hold on to your hats. It could be a wild ride. It might even be fun.
And can Johnny come out and play?
There may be some questions about what No. 18 LSU (7-3, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) still has left to play for after suffering its third loss of the season and having a week off to let the disappointing setback to Alabama simmer.
But No. 9 Texas A&M (8-2, 4-2), with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and the SEC’s most dynamic offense, appears to be the kind of opponent to get anybody’s attention.
“I can’t imagine our guys wouldn’t be excited,” said LSU head coach Les Miles.
It does shape up as a major shootout. LSU’s defense has struggled uncharacteristically — giving up three or more touchdowns in five of six SEC games — while its offense has mostly flourished.
The Aggies sometimes score at will but also have the statistical worst defense in the conference.
Gentlemen, start your engines?
“I’m not looking forward to that kind of game,” Miles said. “I want the defense to stop them. But certainly we recognize the challenge the A&M offense will bring … and at times it may require us to match (the Aggies’ offense).”
He might not have any other choice.
A year ago LSU beat A&M 24-19, countering the Aggies’ roller-coaster offensive attack with a stiff defense that forced five turnovers. The Tigers offense was almost an innocent bystander.
This time it’s two high-powered attacks ready to rev up their engines against struggling defenses.
“It’s backyard football,” LSU running back Jeremy Hill said of Manziel & Co. “He (Manziel) plays the game with fun and with swagger. It’s fun to watch him. I’m going to be looking forward to see what our defense does to stop him. We know they’re a high-octane offense that can score.”
“If there’s a better player in college football, I’d like to know who he is,” Miles said. “I see him as a much more complete quarterback (this year).”
On the other hand, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has improved light years since he was lackluster at best against the Aggies a year ago. He’s thrown for 20 touchdowns and the Tigers lead the nation in third-down conversions.
“There will be opportunities there,” Miles said.
Many observers say today’s game could be for a berth the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
“It’s not something I’m focused on,” Miles said of the bowl implications. “I have a very general idea ... I suspect that that is a motivation of sorts. But I can tell you, if you’re playing A&M, you’re not going to need more motivation than playing them in Tiger Stadium.”