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KEY MATCHUP

LSU’s powerful running game against North Texas’ defense, which is looking to improve under second-year head coach Dan McCarney, a former defensive line coach at Florida. LSU averaged about 203 yards rushing last season, and if North Texas’ front seven can’t slow the Tigers’ ground game down, it won’t matter whether new LSU starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger lives up to his billing as an elite passer. The Mean Green yielded about 164 yards rushing per game last season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

North Texas: WR Brelan Chancellor had 1,628 all-purpose yards in 2011, fifth most in school history. He set the single-game record for all-purpose yards against Houston with 332. Chancellor had a school-record 1,094 yards on kickoff returns, along with 457 yards receiving. Junior QB Derek Thompson threw for 1,759 yards last season.

LSU: Mettenberger will be making his debut as a starter and the Tigers coaching staff is eager to see if he can throw downfield as well in games as he has in practice. The junior transferred to LSU last season from Butler Community College in Kansas, where he threw for 2,678 yards and 32 touchdowns, with only four interceptions, in 12 starts.

FACTS & FIGURES

McCarney has never faced LSU as a head coach, but he was 2-1 against the Tigers as the assistant head coach and defensive line coach at Florida from 2008-10. … LSU has won a school-record nine straight season-openers and has won 17 straight in Death Valley, the nation’s longest home winning streak, since falling to then-No. 1 Florida on Oct. 10, 2009. … North Texas is 37-56-3 all-time in season openers and has won just two in the last 15 years, a 14-7 win at Middle Tennessee in 2005 and a 20-10 victory at Ball State in 2009. … The Tigers have outscored the Mean Green 198-13 in their four meetings combined. … Freshman Jalen Mills and redshirt freshman Jalen Collins are expected to see most of the playing time at the cornerback spot vacated by junior Tyrann Mathieu, the former Heisman Trophy finalist who was dismissed from the team on Aug. 10. Sophomore WR Odell Beckham is slated to take over Mathieu’s punt return duties.

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No. 4 Oklahoma at UTEP, 10:30 p.m. (FSN)

Line: Oklahoma by 31.

Series Record: Oklahoma leads 2-0

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Oklahoma is opening away from home for the first time since losing to BYU in Arlington, Texas, to start the 2009 season and hopes to avoid a similar fate. The Sooners also lost 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford to a shoulder injury in that game. UTEP, which is 1-13 all-time against top 10 teams, is aiming to knock off the highest-ranked opponent ever to visit the Sun Bowl.

KEY MATCHUP

Oklahoma WRs vs. UTEP secondary. A revamped Sooners receiving corps features a slew of newcomers, including Penn State transfer Justin Brown and freshmen Trey Metoyer and Sterling Shepard. The Miners are set to start four seniors in their secondary, including veteran FS DeShawn Grayson.

Story Continues →