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Can LSU slow Oregon's offense?

The Cowboys Classic highlights the kickoff weekend, as No. 3 Oregon squares off against No. 4 LSU in Arlington, Texas on Saturday (ABC, 8 ET). It marks the first meeting of these schools since 1977, a 56-17 LSU win.

Oregon begins its quest to get back to the BCS Championship Game, and it’s never been in a better position to start the season.

LSU Win Streaks on the Line

The Ducks’ No. 3 ranking in the AP Preseason Poll is their highest ever, and just their second time in the top 10. The other time was 2001 (No. 7).

The Ducks would not disappoint that season, finishing second in the final poll behind Miami. Yet, history might be on LSU’s side in this one.

The Tigers have won 33 straight regular season non-conference games, a streak that dates back to the 2002 season opener against Virginia Tech. That was also the last time LSU lost an opener. The Tigers have won 19 straight games played in August/September. Their last such loss was in 2006 against Auburn.

With quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James returning for encores, the Ducks look to build on last season’s high-powered offense. In 2010, the Ducks led FBS in total offense and scoring offense, and ranked fourth in rushing last season.

Shortest Avg Time of Possession
Touchdown Drives, 2010 Season

Oregon’s offense was also fast-acting. It led the FBS with 45 touchdown drives that lasted two minutes or less and 23 touchdown drives of three plays or fewer.

So what can LSU do to stop the Oregon offensive attack? In the BCS Championship Game, Auburn took away the Ducks' ability to run the ball (75 yards on 32 carries, 0 TD).

The Tigers return seven starters on a defense that ranked 42nd against the run. LSU must keep the Ducks offense off the field as much as possible. Oregon had only 18 three-and-outs a year ago (second nationally). The LSU defense ranked 17th in forcing three-and-outs.

On the offensive side, questions surround LSU’s Jarrett Lee, and how he will handle the starting assignment in the aftermath of Jordan Jefferson’s suspension. Lee has struggled to throw the ball downfield over the past two seasons, completing just five of his 26 throws of 15 or more yards (19.2 percent). Compare that to 38.9 percent for Jefferson, including 12 touchdowns.