Da Boot Sports
By: David Penn
BATON ROUGE, LA: The LSU Fighting Tigers (6-6) will take on the Kansas State Wildcats (7-5) on January 4th at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX. The Bayou Bengals and Wildcats will enter the game with uncertainty under center as both programs have been dealt with issues at quarterback. For LSU, starter Max Johnson entered that transfer portal at the conclusion of the season and will suit up for Texas A&M in 2022. It’s still unclear who will start for LSU or if they plan on using multiple quarterbacks in the contest. The Wildcats lost starting quarterback Skylar Thompson to an ankle injury against Baylor causing him to miss their season finale against the Texas Longhorns. Kansas State coach Chris Klieman is hopeful that Thompson, who still is unable to practice, will be able to play against LSU. If not, no decision has been made on his replacement.
The Tigers will be coached by defensive line coach Brad Davis on an interim basis for the game, while new LSU coach Brian Kelly continues to focus on filling out his staff and recruiting. Kansas St will be coached by Chris Klieman who has compiled a 19-15 record in three years at the helm in Manhattan. Both teams will be looking to end the season on a high note to build momentum on the recruiting trail as the Tigers and Wildcats have a lot of work to do finishing out their 2022 signing classes.
LSU will be led on defense by senior linebacker Demone Clark who leads the team with 136 tackles, including 5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception. The Tigers were informed yesterday by defensive tackle Neil Farrell that he will opt out of the bowl game to begin his preparations for the NFL draft. The Wildcats leader on defense is sophomore defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah who posted 11 sacks and 6 forced fumbles and was named co-defensive lineman of the year for the Big-12. The LSU defense for the season has allowed an average of 25.3 PPG while the Wildcats have given up an average of 21.1 PPG. The Wildcats however, ranked 128th in allowed opponent completion percentage.
On offense, both teams will likely center their attacks around the running game. LSU will lean on junior running back Tyrion Davis-Price, who had 211 carries for 1,003 yards, 6 TDs, and an average of 4.8 YPC. Kansas State will look to sophomore running back Deuce Vaughn who led the team with 214 carries, 1,258 yards, 15 TDs, and an average of 5.9 YPC. The Wildcats have taken a huge hit to their running back depth last week as their 2nd and 3rd string backs have both entered the NCAA transfer portal. It’s anyone’s guess who will backup Vaughn in the bowl game. The Tigers offense averaged 27.1 PPG this season while the Wildcats averaged 26.3. Without either team playing with the QB that started for them during the season, you can expect a game that will be focused on winning the battle at the line of scrimmage and controlling the clock. Currently the odds favor LSU at -2.5 with the over/under being 47.5 points.