"Baylor is the best offensive team we'll face since Florida," said Mike Archer, defensive coordinator for 12th-ranked LSU. "I'd rate Baylor right there with Alabama."
LSU (9-1-1) lost to Florida, 20-0, and tied Alabama, 14-14. Those results sent the Tigers to the Liberty Bowl instead of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
Baylor (8-3) relies on the veer offense, and LSU defenders, who held opponents this year to 10.3 points and 107.1 yards rushing per game, say it's difficult to deal with.
The Bears of the Southwest Conference averaged 389 yards a game and 5.4 yards a play.
"If I had a choice of playing against an offense, an option offense would be the last on my list," said LSU junior noseguard Henry Thomas.
"It's hard to find the ball," he said. "The quarterback sticks it in there to a back and you are certain that back has it. You just kill him.
"Then you look up and the other back is 20 yards downfield with the ball. That's when you get pretty upset."
LSU Coach Bill Arnsparger, a former defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins, said stopping the veer requires basic defense.
"Against any option, many of your defensive people aren't free to take their responsibilities right away. They have to shed their blocks first," said Arnsparger, who is in his second year at LSU.
"It goes back to fundamental defense, control the block, locate the ball and make the tackle."
Baylor uses a two-quarterback system, sending 6-foot, 195-pound senior Tom Muecke in for two sets of downs and replacing him with 6-4, 195-pound junior Cody Carlson for two series.
Bears' Coach Grant Teaff, who has been at Baylor for 14 seasons, started using that unusual arrangement in 1982 when team officials were unable to decide which quarterback was better.
The LSU offense will be led by 6-2, 195-pound senior quarterback Jeff Wickersham, the third-leading career passer in the SEC with 6,921 yards.
The Tigers also have two outstanding senior running backs--5-8, 195-pound Dalton Hilliard and 5-10, 205-pound Garry James.
'Against any option, many of your defensive people aren't free to take their responsibilities right away. They have to shed their blocks first.'--BILL, ARNSPARGER LSU coach