The Washington Huskies head to SEC country for the first time in nearly three decades, as they invade Baton Rouge this weekend for a showdown with the third-ranked LSU Tigers.
Steve Sarkasian's Huskies opened their 2012 season up with an impressive defensive performance, topping San Diego State at home last weekend, 21-12. Sarkasian continues to build a solid program in the Pacific Northwest, as Washington is viewed as an up and coming team in the Pac-12.
Sarkasian and the rest of the Huskies were grateful for the win over SDSU, but aren't content by any stretch.
"What I thought was pretty cool is ... I felt like our guys walked out of there with kind of a bad taste in their mouths. They know that game could have gone a lot better for us had we taken advantage of a few more opportunities and done a few more things correctly."
The Huskies certainly have their work cut out for them this week, as they face Les Miles' Tigers. LSU came into 2012 with a feeling of unfinished business, as they were dispatched by rival Alabama in the BCS National Championship game last year. Once again regarded as one of the favorites in not only the SEC, but the BCS picture as well, LSU did little to tarnish that reputation in the season-opener last week, cruising past North Texas, 41-14.
LSU is now a perfect 28-0 under Miles in non-conference regular season games and has won 38 straight such games, just one win shy of tying the FBS record set by Kansas State between 1993-2003.
These two teams are meeting for just the third time. LSU won the previous two meetings, including a 31-23 decision in Seattle in 2009.
The offensive numbers for Washington in the season-opener weren't exactly awe- inspiring, but the team did manage to get a balanced effort, with 106 yards rushing and 222 yards passing.
Quarterback Keith Price was effective in managing the game, completing 71.4 percent of his passes, with a career high 25 completions, for 222 yards and one TD. Both tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (nine receptions, 82 yards) and wideout Kasen Williams (six receptions, 75 yards, one TD) had strong outings, while tailback Bishop Sankey rushed for a team-high 66 yards.
The Huskies gave up some yards on the ground (199) to the Aztecs, but SDSU was unable to take advantage for the most part. Washington was much better against the pass (128 yards), while recording four sacks and forcing three turnovers.
The secondary led the way with junior safety Sean Parker posting a game-high eight tackles and senior cornerback Desmond Trufant finishing with six stops and a sack.
The Huskies better shore up things in the front seven if they are to make this contest competitive, as LSU will run the ball all day long. That gameplan worked to perfection in the opener against the Mean Green, with the Tigers rushing for a whopping 316 yards, on nearly seven yards per carry.
Sophomore tailback Kenny Hilliard led the charge with 141 yards and two TDs on just 13 carries (10.8 ypc). Junior Alfred Blue (123 yards on 16 carries) also made the most of his opportunities.
In his first start under center for the Tigers, quarterback Zach Mettenberger played well enough, completing 19-of-26 passes, for 192 yards with one TD and one interception. His top target was clearly sophomore Jarvis Landry, who didn't start, but still hauled in eight balls, for 82 yards to keep North Texas honest on defense.
While the Tigers had plenty success running the football, North Texas struggled to move the chains both on the ground and through the air, amassing a mere 219 yards of total offense (76 rushing, 143 passing). LSU's defense did a nice job getting off the field, allowing North Texas just 5-of-15 on third down opportunities.
Junior linebacker Lamin Barrow led the way with eight total tackles in the win. Junior free safety Eric Reid was a close second with seven stops, while recording the team's only interception of the game.
Miles was impressed with his team's overall performance in the season-opening win, but acknowledges the team could still play better.
"We rushed for 300 and threw for close to 200 yards. Not too bad. We put 40 points on a team. It was kind of like offense, defense and special teams had an opportunity to play dominant at times, but really had some sloppy plays."