By Joshua Edwards

The 6th ranked LSU Tigers travel to Austin on Saturday to take on the 9th ranked Texas Longhorns in a marquee matchup in front of over 100,000 fans. Josh Edwards previews the contest and makes his prediction:

CFB UK Week 4



LSU Texas

LSU were 10-3 last season losing only to Texas A&M, Florida and Alabama. The Alabama loss was particularly galling (a 29-0 shutout in Tiger Stadium) and the Tigers will be looking forward to a chance to avenge the loss in Tuscaloosa on November 9th. This season opened with a layup: a 55-3 win over Georgia Southern in Baton Rouge. Though huge favourites, it was the manner of their victory which generated buzz about the team’s chances this season. The new look offense clicked remarkably well and second year QB Joe Burrow looked better than ever, clearly comfortable in the spread style of offense, going 23 of 27 for 278 yards and five touchdowns.

For Texas, more of a rollercoaster affair last season, which kicked off with an upset loss against Maryland at FedEx Field. Six straight wins and an updated no.6 ranking followed, but Texas had heart-breaking back to back losses against Oklahoma State and West Virginia mid-season. The Sugar Bowl upset win against SEC runners up Georgia ended the season on a high though, and the Longhorns kept some of that momentum in week one of this season, shutting out Louisiana Tech through three quarters in on route to a comfortable 41-14 win. Sam Ehlinger is a cracking QB prospect and there is finally genuine optimism that the Longhorns can challenge Oklahoma in the Big 12 this season.

LSU and Texas have played 17 times and the Longhorns have the slight edge with a 9-7-1 record over the Tigers. The two teams haven’t played since the Cotton Bowl in Dallas in 2003 when Texas, coached at the time by Mack Brown, beat Nick Saban’s LSU 35-20, with WR Roy Williams the game’s MVP.


LSU head coach Ed Orgeron has seen year-on-year improvement out of his Tigers teams and now in his fourth season will be seeking some true SEC success. The former Ole Miss coach is an animated character who has been the subject of much ridicule and parody, including that of his trademark Cajun accent and sideline antics, but Orgeron is no mug. The Tigers made an intriguing off-season hire by bringing in wunderkind ‘passing game’ co-ordinator Joe Brady. Brady, just 29 years old, is a fascinating coaching prospect – he spent two years as an offensive assistant to Sean Payton in New Orleans between 2017-18 and has installed a hurry-up spread attack which, though initially looking out of character in the purple and gold, was extremely effective in week one.

Brady and Orgeron face a tougher task against Texas in front of 100,000+ fans but are bullish about their chances. It will be interesting to see whether Orgeron sticks with the spread offense if a skilled Texas secondary starts well – there is a chance he defaults to type and looks to ground and pound the Longhorns into submission. On the defensive side Dave Aranda is blessed with elite talent, especially in the secondary. Aranda has the luxury of swapping guys around in what at times resembles an almost position-less defense, and will look to confuse Texas with all sorts of looks, bluffs and blitzes.

Here’s a cool stat about Texas HC Tom Herman: to date he is 13-2-1 against the spread as an underdog as a head coach. That’s a remarkable record and is testament to Herman’s ability to get his teams riled up for big time games. Herman is popular already in Austin – last season was the team’s first 10 win year since 2009, and expectations are high for his third year in charge. He operates a hybrid kind of offense, blending elements of spread and air raid passing attacks but with enough balance on the ground to play to Ehlinger’s strengths.

Herman and OC Tim Beck have an almighty challenge facing LSU though and it remains to be seen whether they can scheme open star wide receiver Collin Johnson. LSU might carry the ‘DBU’ tag given the quality of their secondary but Herman and defensive co-ordinator Todd Orlando have some pieces on defense too, and safeties Caden Sterns and Brandon Jones will be flying around the field in an effort to neutralise Burrow. Look out for their ‘Cowboy’ formation in which the Longhorns field 8 defensive backs – they might need to employ it on multiple occasions when LSU goes empty backfield.

THE KEY MATCHUP: sam ehlinger vs. 'dbu'

LSU Texas

With so many banged up running backs, Texas’s chances of winning this one rest pretty squarely on the shoulders of 6’3, 235 QB Sam Ehlinger. He won’t be able to rush as effectively this week (he was 8 for 34against LT) against a stout LSU defensive front, led by Rashard Lawrence and Glen Logan. Ehlinger has played well at home against ranked teams, with 8 touchdowns and just 1 pick in 5 games (3-2 record), but this is the perhaps the toughest outing in his career to date.

The reason? The quality of LSU’s defensive backs. Safety Grant Delpit, and cornerbacks Kristian Fulton and Derrick Stingley form the core of the best secondary in the nation. Depth guys like Todd Harris and Kary Vincent would be stars on most other college rosters. They are fast, athletic, rangey and well coached, and Ehlinger’s supposed Heisman credentials will be sorely tested on Saturday. Whether or not he is patient and makes good decisions when frustrated will go a long way to deciding if Texas can hang with the Tigers.  


LSU Texas


Grant Delpit, S: Delpit is considered by many to be a top 10, maybe even top 5 player in this year’s class. The safety is currently ranked 3rd overall on the Draft Network’s big board and is drawing comparisons to the last safety taken in the top 10, who also played for LSU, Jamal Adams (2017, 6th overall to the Jets). Delpit might be better. He can line up anywhere on the field and has huge upside as a special team contributor. Depending on team needs he could break the top 5 in 2020 – he’d be the safety to do so since Eric Berry in 2011.

Kristian Fulton, CB: Fulton played opposite Greedy Williams last year, who the Browns drafted in the second round. He was arguably as good if not better than Williams, but decided to return for his senior season in Baton Rouge after missing the last three games through injury. The corner was suspended by the NCAA in 2017 for substituting his urine sample with that of another player, and his decision to return for his senior year may be an attempt to distance himself from that incident. If he stays squeaky clean the talented DB could be a first round pick next spring.

Jacob Phillips, ILB: Phillips is 6’4 and 235lbs with surprising range and coverage ability. He fits the mould of the ‘complete linebacker’ which so many NFL defenses are clamouring for with a rare ability to play all three downs. Phillips is physical, instinctual and long. Look for him to steadily climb draft boards throughout the season and emerge as one of the better linebacker prospects for 2020.

Michael Divinity JR, ILB: Divinity JR moved from OLB to ILB this offseason as Aranda and co look to replace Devin Bush. If he can master the more communicative elements of the new position (which he played at High School) he might emerge as another ILB prospect for LSU in the 2020 draft. He missed the opener this season but will play in the game against Texas and look to build off his 4 sack, 1 pick season in 2018.


Zach Shackelford, C/G: Shackelford missed four games last season which may be why he decided not to declare for the draft. When he played the 304lb center was a stalwart on the Longhorns offensive line. If fears around his surgically repaired ankle are allayed during a healthy senior year, Shackelford can be a first round pick in 2020, given the league’s recent propensity for taking centers high.

Collin Johnson, WR: Johnson is the archetypal big bodied WR who, at 6’6 and 220lbs, can cause any defensive back issues in coverage due to his sheer physicality. His stats last season were modest relative to other Big 12 standout wide receivers but he certainly helped open up the field for Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Devin Duvernay by drawing the attention of safeties and nickel corners. He had 4 catches for 59 yards and a score in the opener and if Sam Ehlinger keeps finding him in the end zone the senior has a strong case for a mid-high round draft selection in 2020.

Brandon Jones, S: The 6ft, 205lb Jones has drawn comparisons to Landon Collins due to his downhill run stopping ability and physicality. He isn’t as complete a safety as someone like Delpit, with limited coverage skills, but he has huge upside as an in-the-box run stuffer in the NFL. He was a tackling machine last season with 70 total and 5.5 for a loss. Some scouts have him as high as a first round pick, and others as low as a fourth – this season’s play will help form more of a consensus about the safety.


ESPN are justifiably sending their College GameDay crew to Austin for the first time in ten years for this one. It’s the mother of all non-conference matchups and one which some are touting as, essentially, a CFB Playoff elimination game, though that depends on a lot of other factors in both conferences throughout the season. I’m siding with the SEC on Saturday and like LSU to put a serious marker down in their hunt to a first CFB Playoff berth.

Joe Burrow is methodical and LSU have the scheme in place to help him find a rhythm again, despite facing a better opponent defensively. Ehlinger will likely start strong but in the latter stages of the contest I envisage some sailed throws and subsequent picks for that vaunted LSU secondary. The Tigers are the more balanced, complete team, and Dave Aranda’s LSU defense can get the better of his former college roommate Tom Herman. Whatever happens it’ll be tight, and loud, and entertaining. ‘Texas Is Back’? Not quite yet.

Score Prediction: LSU 33-27 Texas

JOSHUA Edwards