Other than playing Alabama, the most anticipated game of the 2013 season for LSU is when Texas A&M visits Tiger Stadium Saturday afternoon.
It all centers around watching one of the most exciting players in college football over the past 10 seasons in Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Like him for his play and his excitement or loathe him for his off the field antics, the guy is one terrific football player.
This summer at the Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State, Manziel told me he grew up watching and pulling for LSU.
“Matt Flynn was from Tyler, Texas and I grew up in Tyler, so I was a Matt Flynn fan and an LSU fan,” Manziel said. “LSU really didn’t recruit me hard coming out of high school, but I know all about Tiger Stadium. It is one of the greatest venues in college football, the atmosphere is electric and I love playing in a place where it is almost like the old Roman Coliseum. You are the gladiator fighting off the lion, and so I look forward to playing LSU in Tiger Stadium.
“Last year no one played us as well as LSU did. LSU’s speed and talent on defense was very good and very intimidating.”Well, most of that talent graduated to the NFL and LSU’s defense is just a shell of what the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner saw last season.
LSU is averaging 37.9 points per game in 2013, but they are giving up 23.5 points per game on defense.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M is averaging 49.2 points per game in 2013 and they are giving up 30.9 points per game.Want to bet this is a shootout?
Playing on a team with a defense that at times could be described as “lousy,” Manziel has played better this season, under more strain, than he did in 2012.
Manziel has completed 230 of his 315 passes for a 73 percent completion rate while throwing 31 touchdowns.
He has also rushed for 611 yards and is averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
Manziel has carried this A&M team on his back, but he is also getting help offensively from a king-sized future NFL wide receiver in Mike Evans. The 6-foot-5, 225 pounder has caught 57 passes this season, averaged 22.2 yards per catch and scored 12 touchdowns.
Manziel is also being guarded by two outstanding tackles in Jake Matthews, who looks to be a top 10 pick in the 2014 NFL draft, and Cedric Ogbuehi, who also displays first round skills.
The problem is that A&M has no senior player that will be drafted next May and they don’t have one signature junior defensive player.
Sounds a little like what we have seen out of the Tiger defense in 2013.
Texas A&M has lost just two games this season. They lost two shootout games to Alabama and Auburn and now they face two very talented offensive teams in LSU and Missouri to close out the regular season.
Whether you love to watch him or hate him, Johnny Manziel is a special college player and a latter-day version of NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton.
Expect the winner to score in the mid 40s and the loser in the high 30s or low 40s.