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November 18, 2013

Tigers brace for onslaught

BATON ROUGE, La. — If Les Miles is worried about how his embattled defense will hold up against Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M’s relentless, up-tempo offense, he isn’t showing it.

The ninth-ranked Aggies’ visit to Death Valley on Saturday afternoon will feature two of the top quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference, as well as some of college football’s best receivers and running backs — seemingly all the needed ingredients of a high-scoring affair.

LSU’s coach, however, said he is “not looking forward to that style of game.”

“I want the defense to stop them,” Miles said. “Certainly we recognize the challenge that an offense like A&M will bring. ... I like my defense. I suspect they’ll play best in this game. I think they’ll be a challenge to A&M and I think being in Tiger Stadium will be a challenge to A&M. It’s a much different environment and a place where the home team generally does pretty good.”

No. 18 LSU has opened as a four-point favorite and has been good at home, winning all five contests in Death Valley this season.

Yet it’s defense has been inconsistent and shaky at times. In LSU’s last game — a 38-17 loss at Alabama two weekends ago — the Tigers’ defense looked strong in the first half before wilting in the second, when No. 1 the Crimson Tide put together three unanswered touchdown drives, turning a tense 17-all tie into a laugher.

Now LSU must contend with Manziel, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, whose talent, according to Miles, is unsurpassed in college football.

Manziel has accounted for 300-plus total yards in 19 straight starts. He racked up 500 total yards against an Alabama defense that leads the SEC with 272.8 yards allowed per game.

Texas A&M’s 578 yards per game and scoring average of 49.2 easily lead the SEC. Auburn ranks second with 499.9 yards per game and Missouri is second in scoring with 41.3 points per game.

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