LSU fans and players have questioned who Towson is since the game was added to the schedule last August.
Saturday night, they find out.
Towson (2-1) enters Tiger Stadium as such an unknown underdog that most sports books don’t even have a point spread set for the game.
The school’s own website refers to the matchup as “the biggest challenge in the 44-year history of the Towson football program.”
But the visiting Tigers are LSU’s first ranked test of the season, carrying a No. 12 ranking in the Football Championship Subdivision, and are the defending Colonial Athletic Association champions.
“I think the team is truly going to be challenged by our opponent,” said LSU coach Les Miles. [Towson is] a talented group. They have speed and ability offensive and defensively, as well as on special teams. I think our team understands that.”
The Tigers from Towson are coming off consecutive home wins, but they may be more notorious for tackling a Kent State defender running the wrong way on a punt return in a 41-21 season-opening loss.
That play was comedic highlight reel material, but now the spotlight is actually on the school with an enrollment of 18,000 just north of Baltimore.
Towson has only played in front of more than 30,000 fans three times in school history, an ominous sign as nearly three times that many likely await in Tiger Stadium. This will mark Towson’s sixth game in program history against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.
But LSU players say the raucous environment can inspire the best shot from lesser-known foes.
“This is their season, in one game,” said LSU senior kicker Drew Alleman. “We know they’ll be sparked up to play in an atmosphere like we have.”
Towson’s sophomore running back Terrance West has been sparking a balanced offense.
The 5-foot-11, 223-pound bruiser has piled up 251 yards and five touchdowns through three games, giving senior quarterback Grant Enders open passing lanes to throw for 605 yards and four touchdowns with a 74.7 completion percentage.
“[West] is a quality back, a strong and fast runner,” said LSU junior defensive end Barkevious Mingo. “He can do a lot for that offense, so stopping him is one of our primary goals.”
Stopping opposing offenses hasn’t been a problem for Mingo and LSU this fall. The Tigers defense is limiting opponents to 10.3 points per game and stuffing rushing attacks to the tune of two yards per rush.
After a lackluster offensive performance at Auburn, complete with penalties, turnovers and only 12 points, it’s the LSU offense with something to prove before a rugged October slate.
For Miles, correcting those errors starts and ends with protecting quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who spent much of the Auburn game scrambling from pressure.
“Anytime someone gets into our back field, we want to address it,” Miles said. “There were some miscommunications between [Zach] and [his backside protection]. We’re going to work on that and make our tackles more aware.”
They’ll face a Towson unit that has allowed 25 points per game but limited teams to 252.7 yards per contest, good for fifth in the FCS.
Mettenberger and the LSU passing game will square off with Towson senior safety Jordan Dangerfield, whose 20 tackles lead a defense that has surrendered 107 passing yards per game.
“They’re aggressive out there,” said LSU sophomore wide receiver Jarvis Landry. “They want to have that big game against us.”
Landry answered the question, “Who is Towson?” with a simple, “I had never heard of them before they were on our schedule.”
By sundown Saturday night, Landry and the rest of LSU will be all too familiar with another set of Tigers.