|Texas A&M's record-breaking freshman QB Johnny Manziel will be challenged by LSU's defense on Saturday. (US Presswire)|
Kickoff: Saturday, noon ET (ESPN)
Spread: LSU by 3.5
Watchability: This game has a little bit of everything: strong offense vs. stingy defense, traditional SEC team vs. newcomer and explosion vs. power. These teams have contrasting styles, but both have their sights on staying in the SEC West race. LSU is favored, but the Aggies have been impressive in their inaugural SEC season, so expect a good contest here.
Shining stars: LSU: Take your choice of about anybody on the Tigers' defense, but LB Kevin Minter has been especially solid the past few weeks. He piled up 20 tackles and two sacks against Florida on Oct. 6, and he had nine stops in a win over South Carolina last week. Texas A&M: It's hard to list all the accolades and stats for freshman QB Johnny Manziel in just a few sentences. He's a true running and passing threat who has accounted for more than 500 yards of total offense by himself twice this season already. His playmaking ability will be put to the test against a stingy LSU defense.
Who could steal the show: LSU: It's difficult to predict which RB the Tigers will lean on in a given week, but freshman Jeremy Hill was the workhorse against South Carolina. He came into that game with just 13 carries this season, but he ran it 17 times for 124 yards and two scores in the victory. Texas A&M: Like Manziel, WR Mike Evans is one of the most surprising freshmen in the league. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound former high school basketball star is having no trouble translating those skills to the football field with 36 catches for 549 yards and two touchdowns. He'll be well covered by an LSU passing defense that is ranked third nationally.
You going? Ranking the road trip: If you've been wanting to check out the newest SEC venues, this would be a great week to go to College Station to see Kyle Field. It's an early start, but that shouldn't put too much of a damper on a crowd excited to see if the Aggies can stack up with the SEC elites.
Magic number for LSU: 91.4. That's how many rushing yards per game the Tigers are allowing on average. Manziel alone averages 112.7 rushing yards per game, so something will have to give.
Magic number for Texas A&M: 576. That's how many all-purpose yards Manziel accounted for against Louisiana Tech last week. He won't get anywhere near that against LSU, but getting even half of that would help the Aggies' chances.
The game comes down to: The Aggies showed in their Week-2 loss to Florida (20-17) that they can be competitive against anybody in the conference. Manziel will make plays with his arm and feet, but the challenge will be getting enough stops against an LSU offense that isn't particularly explosive, but is extremely physical. This one could go either way, but the overall depth and physicality of LSU gives it the slight edge.
Eye on College Football's take: Typically, talking about abstractions like "motivation" and "energy" is a lazy substitute for actual analysis, but in the case of LSU's trip to Kyle Field, the Tigers' motivation and energy really could decide the outcome. Make no mistake: This is the Aggies' biggest home game of the season, a chance to cement themselves as the buzz team in the SEC West against a top-10 opponent with whom A&M has a long, loathing-filled history. Coming home after two spotty but ultimately successful weeks on the road, Kevin Sumlin's team should be poised to play its best game of the season, in front of its most electric crowd of the season. With an 11 a.m. local kickoff, will LSU be able to match the Aggies' intensity? If they can, they should come away with the victory -- the Tigers are the more talented team virtually everywhere but quarterback, have the kind of defense that can harass Manziel into a few freshman mistakes, and behind newcomer Jeremy Hill should have the running game to put away any late leads. But with the Tigers coming off that emotional win over South Carolina and given the frenzied state of Kyle Field, that's a gigantic "if." -- Jerry Hinnen
Prediction: LSU 28, Texas A&M 21
For more up-to-the minute news and analysis from SEC bloggers Larry Hartstein and Daniel Lewis, follow @CBSSportsSEC.