Two hundred and fifty nine. That is the number of rushing yards LSU sophomore sensation Leonard Fournette needs to reach 2,000 on the season, Tuesday night in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Fournette and the Tigers will be facing a Texas Tech team that has the third worst rushing defense in the nation, allowing 271 yards on the ground per game.
That match-up would seem to be the perfect salve for an LSU offense that struggled mightily during a three game losing streak in November, and even in winning their regular season finale, 19-7 over Texas A&M. It would also allow Fournette to put a bow on a season that saw him as the clear cut Heisman favorite for a majority of the season, only to fail to even make the cut for the New York award presentation.
“That would be great, team wise and for him,” said Tigers left tackle Jerald Hawkins. “Because I believe that is a goal for him and the offensive line blocking for him. That’s a big goal for us too.”
The Tigers rushing game against the Red Raiders defense is just one of the fun head to head match-ups. The Tigers struggle to throw the ball and will attempt to grind out yards and drives. The Red Raiders are second nationally in scoring offense (46.5 per game) while the LSU defense has been stout for a majority of the season, allowing just 342 total yards a game.
Even Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury agrees that the contrast between the two teams should make for a must see bowl game.
“I think you have a running back (Fournette) that is one of the best players in the country,” Kingsbury said. “One of the best running backs you will ever see in your life and I think what we have been able to do offensively this year has been exciting. They have a great defense. So I think it is a fan friendly game and I think it will be a lot of fun to watch.”
Most of the questions reserved for the LSU players during Saturday’s media availability centered on the performances of Tigers QB Brandon Harris. Did Harris and the Tigers passing game benefit from the extra practices? Can LSU effectively throw the football to keep Fournette from being the sole focus of the Red Raiders defense?
“I don’t want to say we got to start from square one,” offered wide receiver Malachi Dupre. “I don’t want to say we want to reinvent the passing game because we had some times this year it was successful. Just with the time we had it was the one thing we emphasized, just trying to get better because we know we have a real good rushing attack and we need to balance it out.”
Dupre knows the game could be a shootout if Tech can move the ball against the Tigers defense.
“We just have to execute the plays our coaches call and try to score whenever we have the opportunity because we know they can score points whenever,” he said. “We know we have a really good defense but we don’t want to rely on them at all.”
Tuesday’s game kicks at 8 p.m. and can be heard on Sports Radio 610
NOTES- Texas Tech has won each of its last four bowl games, marking the longest active streak in the Big 12.
LSU is making its 16th consecutive trip to a bowl game.
LSU is 2-0 all time against Tech, with the last match-up coming in 1957 when future Heisman winner Billy Cannon returned a kickoff 97 yards and also scored on a 59-yard reception in the Tigers 19-14 victory.
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