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Tuesday, July 7, 2009
LSU-Nebraska in mythical No. 4 battle of Big 12 vs. SEC teams

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Nebraska (Big 12 No. 4) vs. LSU (SEC No. 4)

Nebraska's record against the SEC: 2-2
LSU's record against the Big 12: 2-2
Previous series: Nebraska leads the series, 5-0-1
Most recent game: Nebraska won, 30-15, in the 1987 Sugar Bowl

Distance between them (as the crow flies according to How Far Is It): 780 miles.
Where they should play: Fort Smith, Ark. (388 miles from Baton Rouge, 396 miles from Lincoln)

Who wins: LSU.

Why: Bo Pelini knows all about LSU's talent after serving as the Tigers' defensive coordinator from 2005-07. The Tigers struggled without him last season, allowing opponents to score 50 points twice -- something that had never happened before in LSU history. Look for new coordinator John Chavis to have the Tigers playing with a growl like they did when Pelini was calling defenses.

LSU sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson has more experience than his Nebraska counterpart, Zac Lee, and would be able to exploit the Cornhuskers' pass defense with veteran deep threat Brandon LaFell. Bruising tailback Charles Scott would be able to run the ball consistently as a beefy LSU front should be able to neutralize Ndamukong Suh up front.

Nebraska would have its moments and would likely be able to move the ball on the ground with Roy Helu Jr. and Quentin Castille against a rebuilt LSU defensive front that features three new starters. But I doubt the Cornhuskers have the deep receiving threats they would need to score the points in bunches to beat the Tigers.

Pelini is narrowing the talent gap with the nation's elite from what he inherited. He'll get there soon enough, but his program still isn't to the point where it can consistently beat teams like LSU on a neutral field.

Wednesday: Oklahoma State (Big 12 No. 3) vs. Alabama (SEC No. 3).

The count: SEC, 5-4.

Note: Matchups are determined by the most recent rankings of Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin and SEC blogger Chris Low. All cumulative records go back to the 1996 season -- the first of competition in the Big 12.