1 – Biggest question for TCU: who will start at quarterback? The consensus among fans and the media seems to be that Casey Pachall will get the nod. This makes sense because of Pachall’s experience and talent.
2 – It is likely, however, that head coach Gary Patterson will put Trevone Boykin in on at least a couple of plays for a change of pace. Patterson said last week that even if Boykin doesn’t start, the quarterback is too athletic to merely sit on the bench.
3 – Second biggest question for TCU: Who will step in as the No. 1 wide receiver for the Frogs? Josh Boyce skipped his senior season to enter the NFL, leaving TCU with a talented group of wideouts but no go-to guy. One receiver to watch is Brandon Carter (590 receiving yards, 6 TDs in 2012), who made some highlight reel plays last season and had good chemistry with both quarterbacks.
4 – Biggest question for LSU: Can QB Zach Mettenberger play another game like the one he had against Alabama in 2012? After a slow start last season, Mettenberger had a spectacular game against one of the best defenses in the country, completing 24 of 35 passes for 298 yards and a TD. Can he put together a similar performance against a tough TCU defense?
5 – Second question for LSU: Will RB Jeremy Hill (755 rushing yards, 12 TDs in 2012) play? And if he does, how will he perform? Hill's arrest in April after punching a man outside a bar in Baton Rouge resulted in a suspension from the team. His teammates voted him back on the team in early August, but Les Miles won't say if the tailback will play Saturday.
6 – Pass rush is a concern for both teams. TCU DE Devonte Fields is suspended for the first two games of the season for his violation of team rules (although Patterson recently created a stir on that topic), and LSU’s top pass rushers from last year, Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, are now in the NFL. Both teams need someone to step up and put pressure on the quarterback.
7 – Both teams are still young. TCU and LSU tied with North Carolina for the highest number of true and redshirt freshmen that saw playing time last season (28).
8 – Expect a low-scoring game. This game features two top-20 defenses from 2012, so points will be difficult to come by. LSU’s defense was ranked eighth nationally last season. TCU was ranked 16th, despite playing in the high-scoring Big 12. Odds are, first team to 20 points wins.
9 –TCU will debut its new uniforms on Saturday. The helmets, cleats and gloves all have red accents, representing the blood a horned frog shoots out of its eyes. Both Patterson and the players said they love the new threads.
10 – That being said, Patterson is known for being superstitious. If TCU loses badly on Saturday, those uniforms may never see daylight again.
11 – LSU played in the Cowboys Classic in 2011. Their opponent? Oregon, who also debuted new uniforms for that game. The Ducks lost that contest 40-27.
12 – TCU played in the Cowboys Classic in 2010, beating Oregon State 30-21.
13 – The Frogs’ win in the 2010 Cowboys Classic was their first victory en route to a 13-0 season and a win in the Rose Bowl. After LSU won the game in 2011, the Tigers went on to play in the BCS National Championship.
14 – Big games like these are a chance for coaches to get creative with their play-calling. LSU head coach Les Miles (whose nickname is “the Mad Hatter”) is known to take risks in high-profile games (see the failed onside kick against Alabama last season and the fake field goal against Florida in 2010). Do not be surprised if the Tigers do something similar Saturday.
15 – If LSU does try something tricky, will TCU be able to stop it? The Frogs fell victim to a number of trick plays in recent years (see the fake punt by Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, as well as a double reverse pass by Texas Tech in 2012).
16 – Gary Patterson may take some risks as well. There is a reason he earned the nickname “GMFP.” He makes gutsy calls in big games (see West Virginia last year).
17 – TCU has a three-headed monster in its backfield. Between Waymon James, B.J. Catalon and Nebraska transfer Aaron Green, the Frogs have a potent rushing attack.
18 – With such a crowded backfield, will freshmen running backs Kyle Hicks and Trevorris Johnson see much, if any, playing time? Barring an injury, that seems unlikely.
19 – The running game will need the help of an inexperienced offensive line. OT Aviante Collins and OG Eric Tausch are the only returners on the line who started in more than one game last season.
20 – On defense, TCU returns one of the best secondaries in the country, headlined by All-American CB Jason Verrett, who led the Big 12 in interceptions with six in 2012. The safeties, Elisha Olabode, Sam Carter and Chris Hackett, are known for giving punishing hits and intercepting passes.
21 – However, the defense is inexperienced at linebacker. Patterson said last week that he thinks that his linebackers are more athletic this season, but the group lacks the veteran leadership of a Kenny Cain or a Joel Hasley. The group is likely to experience some growing pains, something the Tigers could exploit.
22 – Impact player for LSU: DT Anthony Johnson. Gary Patterson said during camp that his team did not play a defensive tackle like Johnson last season. Johnson may be poised for a big game as he faces an inexperienced TCU offensive line.
23 – Impact player for TCU: The easy answer is Pachall. If Pachall starts, it will also be the right answer. But another good answer is James. In his first game back after a season-ending knee injury a year ago, look for James to make plays running and catching the ball.
24 – How will both teams handle playing on such a large stage? A Saturday night game on national television serves as the perfect opportunity to grab people’s attention.