BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Now in his fifth year at LSU, defensive end Christian LaCouture is about to play his final game in Tiger Stadium — and expects it to be an emotional one for a number of reasons. LaCouture, who has a team-high six sacks, has loved playing in 102,000-seat Death Valley. There's also the matter of validating the remarkable turnaround the 19th-ranked Tigers have pulled off since an upset loss to Troy on Sept. 30.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Now in his fifth year at LSU, defensive end Christian LaCouture is about to play his final game in Tiger Stadium — and expects it to be an emotional one for a number of reasons.
LaCouture, who has a team-high six sacks, has loved playing in 102,000-seat Death Valley. There's also the matter of validating the remarkable turnaround the 19th-ranked Tigers have pulled off since an upset loss to Troy on Sept. 30.
Texas A&M (7-4, 4-3 Southeastern Conference), which visits LSU on Saturday night, is the last team between the Tigers (8-3, 5-2, No. 18 CFP) and their best record in the SEC since 2012.
"We are playing confident right now. On Senior Day, there is a lot of emotion at the start. Then, you have to focus on the game," LaCouture said. "We have to finish strong. We need a win to end on a high note. We want to go into the bowl game on a winning streak. We want no bad taste in our mouth."
LSU has won two straight and five of its last six, the lone loss coming at No. 1 Alabama.
The Aggies also have won two straight.
Beating LSU "would mean a lot," Aggies receiver Christian Kirk said. "It's definitely a big-time game."
This is also the third straight year these teams have played a regular season finale with the future of one team's coach in question.
In 2015, Les Miles saved his job — albeit not for long — by beating Texas A&M. Last season's game in College Station was LSU coach Ed Orgeron's last as interim coach. Less than 48 hours after a convincing victory over the Aggies, LSU announced Orgeron would keep the job.
Now Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin's future appears uncertain.
Sumlin said he hasn't been told he'd be fired after the LSU game and stressed that he's not focused on his job status right now.
"I'm in the process right now of working on winning this week," Sumlin said. "In this time, you can't worry about what people say. What you can worry about is the response of your team, the response of the people in this building and the trust level in there, and how they perform."
Here are some other central story lines surrounding the Aggies' visit to Death Valley.
LOPSIDED SERIES: LSU has won the last six meetings, including all five since A&M joined the SEC in 2012. "The bottom line is we haven't won and there have been different reasons for every single one of those," Sumlin said. "It's the results that matter."
GROUND GAINS: The Aggies can only hope LSU running back Derrius Guice doesn't pull off a reprise of his school-record-setting 285-yard rushing performance when these teams met last season. "Guice is a problem," Aggies defensive tackle Kingsley Keke said. "He's a tough running back. He always runs hard." Sumlin added that his defense can't overlook LSU backup Darrel Williams, either. Williams needs 30 yards rushing to reach 700, which would mark only the third time in school history that LSU had both a 1,000-yard rusher (Guice) and a 700-yard rusher in the same season.
FRIENDLY FIRE: Years before Nick Starkel became Texas A&M's starting quarterback, he was childhood friends with Orgeron's sons, Parker and Cody, in Mandeville, Louisiana. "Believe it or not," Orgeron said. Starkel has "been to my house several times as a young man. So proud to see him grow up. And he's a tremendous quarterback. Proud for him and his family."
Starkel has missed much of this season with broken ankle but returned as starter a couple weeks ago for victories over New Mexico and Mississippi, going 40 of 62 for 688 yards, five TDs and one interception combined.
PERIMETER PLAYMAKERS: This game features two receivers who also have been effective punt returners. Kirk is the first A&M receiver to surpass 4,000 all-purpose yards. D.J. Chark has touchdowns receiving, rushing and on a punt return this season, making him one of only seven LSU players ever to do that in one campaign.