Texas A&M Aggies vs. LSU Tigers Preview: An Expected Shootout That You Can Actually Expect

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

The defenses almost make it certain that this will be another wild game full of points and yardage. Who benefits from that?

Texas A&M Aggies vs. LSU Tigers, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

As tempting as it might be to invoke Year2's Rule of Shootouts (if everyone expects a shootout, it won't happen), it's hard to do with this game. That's because it has less to do in this case with how prolific the offenses are than how weak the defenses are. Yes, Texas A&M has a great offense and LSU has a generally very good offense. But even if these were simply good offenses, they would have a chance at putting up a large number of points.

That's because A&M simply does not play defense. With the exception of third-down defense, there is literally no defensive category tracked by the NCAA in which the Aggies are ranked in the top half of the FBS. The only FBS teams not to break 30 points against Texas A&M are Vanderbilt, SMU and UTEP. When you're going up against the fifth-rated quarterback in terms of passing efficiency and one of the best stables of running backs in the SEC (even if it doesn't always show up statistically), that kind of defense isn't going to hold up.

But LSU, while better statistically than the A&M defense, gives up more than its fair share of offense when playing the best teams on its schedule. Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State and Ole Miss all gained more than 400 yards against LSU, and the Rebels broke 500 yards. The only SEC team to face the Bayou Bengals and not come away with at least 372 yards was Florida -- which, Florida. Need we even point out that they're going up against Johnny Manziel?

That's the element that generally makes for a shootout even when everyone expects one -- the defenses just aren't very good. It's also what makes a game very volatile. In retrospect, none of the Aggies' losses are very surprising -- Alabama and Auburn are both Top 10 teams. But some of them have been in doubt far longer than they should have been, most notably at Ole Miss. Even a terrible Arkansas team still searching for its first SEC win kept it within two scores.

There are two things that I think will make the difference in this game, or at least be credited with making a difference. First, Les Miles' LSU teams simply don't lose two games in a row, whether that's a coincidence or something more. (I'm generally dubious about "statistics" like that, but there's a point at which something looks like a genuine trend, and 22 out of 23 is past that point.) And I have more confidence in LSU coming up with a stop when it needs one than I have in Texas A&M.

LSU 43, Texas A&M 41

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