For the first time in 45 years, LSU and TCU will meet on the football field as the stars of the 2013 Cowboys Classic, with both teams having something to prove: The Horned Frogs that they can be a major factor in the Big 12, while it’s about answering the doubters for LSU.

If it wasn’t bad enough for the Tigers to lose in their bowl game against Clemson last season, they lost eight defensive players to the draft and 11 overall. While they have recruited well over the last couple of years to make sure it doesn’t send the team too far down the SEC West pecking order, they will start four new players in the defensive line, and we’ll see a lot more freshman on this team than we’ve gotten used to.

CowboysClassic2013_577x267

The other issue will be their offense. Plenty of key players are returning: quarterback Zach Mettenberger (2609 yards, 12 touchdowns, 7 interceptions), receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Kadron Boone and running backs Alfred Blue, Jeremy Hill and Kenny Hilliard.

Mettenberger and the passing game struggled last season, with LSU being among the worst in the nation when it came to the passing game. They relied on their defense and running back committee, obviously, but Hill will see limited playing time due to his April arrest for drunk driving, and it’s going to be up to Blue and Hilliard to make up for his absence in some of the games. However, Les Miles might forget about discipline and his words if he sees that changing offensive coordinators didn’t do the trick.

For TCU, the defense looks solid, although they are going to miss Big 12 defensive player of the year Devonte Fields in this game and the next one due to a suspension for violating university and team policy. The offense is the question, specifically at quarterback.

Casey Pachall is 15-2 as a starter for TCU, and started last season (first four games, all wins) with 10 touchdown passes and only one interception. However, being caught driving drunk led to an arrest and leaving the football program for a treatment program. Trevone Boykin did pretty well for the rest of the season (2,054 yards passing and 15 TDs) but Pachall is obviously the better player.

Predictions – Even if LSU have lost plenty of players, their defensive recruiting is always top notch, while their offense should look better this season, with or without Hill. TCU need Pachall to be at his best in order to have a shot, but he might not even start. In any case, TCU simply don’t have the all-around talent in this one, even if they do have the better head coach.

Image: Source