University of Missouri

Mizzou football at LSU: Three-minute preview

Missouri sophomore quarterback Drew Lock has thrown for 1,508 yards this season, which ranks second in the nation.
Missouri sophomore quarterback Drew Lock has thrown for 1,508 yards this season, which ranks second in the nation.

When/where: 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

TV/radio: SEC Network; KMBZ (98.1 FM)

The series: Missouri leads 1-0

The line: LSU by 13

What’s at stake

After entering the season ranked fifth with national-title aspirations, LSU’s season is on the line. Already slim College Football Playoff hopes won’t survive another loss, but it’s also a key game for Missouri’s hopes to remain part of the SEC East title race.

Cheers if …

Missouri’s big-play passing game continues to deliver. Sophomore quarterback Drew Lock’s 1,508 yards, which already are more than the 1,332 he had last season, are the second most in the country. Lock’s eight completions of at least 40 yards are tied for the most in the nation. Mizzou had only four such completions last season.

Jeers if …

Mizzou gets burned by a meager LSU passing attack, which averages barely 6.0 yards per attempt. The Tigers’ run defense was a focal point after allowing 241 yards against West Virginia, but MU ranks 31st nationally at 3.34 yards per carry this season. The bigger issue for Mizzou has been chunk plays in the passing game, including 17 opponents’ completions of at least 20 yards, which is tied for 107th most in FBS.

Tod Palmer’s pick: LSU 23-21

It’s homecoming for LSU, which will be energized by the revamped offensive scheme and energized to make a statement after the turmoil surrounding Les Miles’ firing and Louisiana native Ed Orgeron’s elevation to interim coach.

Three things about LSU

1. Junior running back Leonard Fournette (ankle) is a game-time decision. He’s one of the most explosive players in the country, but his absence doesn’t mean Mizzou’s run defense would get off easy. Sophomore Derrius Guice averages 8.24 yards per carry, including 155 yards against Jacksonville State when Fournette sat out earlier this season.

2. Junior quarterback Danny Etling, a Purdue transfer, will remain LSU’s starter. He replaced ineffective junior Brandon Harris, the incumbent starter entering the season, after two games. Etling is 40 of 71 for 433 yards with three touchdowns and an interception this season.

3. LSU’s new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, who was promoted from tight ends coach after Orgeron jettisoned Cam Cameron, was a quarterback on the 1978 LSU team that lost 20-15 against Missouri in the Liberty Bowl.

Key matchup

Missouri’s offensive line vs. LSU’s defensive line. Mizzou’s rebuilt offensive line, which has been exceptional in pass protection, hasn’t been tested much this season. Certainly, MU hasn’t faced a rotation with players such as junior defensive ends Arden Key, who leads the country with 6  1/2 sacks, and Davon Godchaux, who was reinstated Wednesday after charges stemming from his early Monday morning arrest were dropped.

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer

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