LSU football vs Texas A&M: Score prediction for Ed Orgeron's final game at Tiger Stadium

·3 min read

Ever since LSU football carried Les Miles off the field in 2015, the annual Thanksgiving week matchup with Texas A&M invites coaching intrigue.

Miles was all but fired until he beat the Aggies that night. No such reprieve awaits outgoing LSU coach Ed Orgeron.

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Orgeron will lead LSU (5-6, 2-5 SEC) for the final time at Tiger Stadium against No. 14 Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3) on Saturday (6 p.m., ESPN). The Aggies are coached by Jimbo Fisher, a former LSU offensive coordinator and one of the names rumored to be replacing Orgeron.

The Tigers are one win away from bowl eligibility, which would extend a streak that began in 2000.

Texas A&M's offense starts with Isaiah Spiller

Spiller, the focal point of Texas A&M’s offense, is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and needs 16 yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the season. The offensive line is also a strength behind Kenyon Green, a projected top-10 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Fisher’s play selection is 54% in favor of the run. That drops to 49% on the road, but the Aggies were playing from behind at Colorado and Ole Miss.

LSU hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since the bye week. It coincides with defensive coordinator Daronte Jones shifting the Tigers from a 4-2-5 scheme to a blitz-happy 4-3/3-4 hybrid. Damone Clark, who is a finalist for the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker, leads the nation with 127 tackles.

Stay ahead of the chains

If LSU can’t run the football against Texas A&M, Max Johnson is in for a long night. The Aggies love to tee off on quarterbacks, which is a signature of defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s scheme. Defensive linemen Tyree Johnson and DeMarvin Leal, who each have eight sacks, could be a nightmare matchup for LSU’s makeshift offensive line.

Right tackle Austin Deculus is expected to play, which will break the individual record for most games played in LSU history. Injuries pressed guards Garrett Dellinger and Marlon Martinez into the starting lineup over the past two games. Kardell Thomas, a former five-star signee from Southern Lab, played significant snaps against Louisiana-Monroe.

The curious case of Zach Calzada

Calzada played the best game of his career against Alabama, finishing 21-of-31 for 285 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers have regressed over the past month.

In Texas A&M’s last two SEC games — losses to Auburn and Ole Miss — Calzada is 39-of-70 for 429 yards and two interceptions.

The Aggies operate best when Spiller is chewing up defenses and Calzada can throw off play action. Fisher typically puts most of the offense on the quarterback’s shoulders, which explains why Calzada has been inconsistent. The more he has to do, the better LSU’s chances are of pulling an upset.

The red zone has become the dead zone

LSU was a perfect 19-of-19 in the red zone at the end of October. Over the past month, the Tigers are just 5-of-10 scoring inside the 20-yard line, the worst percentage in the SEC.

ULM turned LSU away twice in four opportunities, which doesn’t create much optimism against Texas A&M. Only Alabama has played better defense in the red zone than the Aggies.

Texas A&M has allowed only 12 red-zone touchdowns in 11 games.

Score prediction

Texas A&M 20, LSU 10: The Orgeron era ends with a dud as Texas A&M manufactures enough offense to dash LSU’s bowl hopes.

Adam Hunsucker covers LSU for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at ahunsucker@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter @adam_hunsucker. Enjoy Adam’s work? Consider a digital subscription for unlimited access.

LSU closes the regular season against No. 14 Texas A&M on Saturday at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers are one win from bowl eligibility. 

2021-10-16-lsu-florida
LSU closes the regular season against No. 14 Texas A&M on Saturday at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers are one win from bowl eligibility. 2021-10-16-lsu-florida

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: LSU football vs Texas A&M: Score prediction for Ed Orgeron finale

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