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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2007
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LSU knows another loss would be costly

By Ross Dellenger
sports@decaturdaily.com · 340-2462

LSU coach Les Miles has been preparing his team for a week like this since August.

He preached to them that adversity would come. You must be ready for it, he said. You must fight through it, he urged.

“Coach Miles has been telling us throughout the season that there’s going to be adversity,” LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson said, “and it’s going to come in different colors.”

Saturday, on a cool afternoon in Lexington, Ky., it came in Wildcat Blue.

LSU endured its first loss of the season last week when the once top-ranked Tigers dropped a 43-37 decision to Kentucky, burying dreams of an undefeated season.

“We are shocked,” linebacker Darry Beckwith said this week. “Anytime you lose, it hurts.”

An almost unanimous pick to play for the national championship, LSU is still hanging on to a parcel of that dream.

Miles insists his team’s goals are “still there for us.” And he may be right, but his Tigers will need some help.

The debut of the BCS standings has LSU in fourth place, behind undefeated Ohio State, South Florida and Boston College.

But if two of those teams were to lose and LSU were to win its remaining games, the Tigers would likely
find themselves in the No. 2 spot because of the strength of the SEC schedule.

As of right now, the Tigers’ BCS computer average is No. 2, but the polls are weighing that down. The two polls used in the BCS formula — Harris and USA Today — have LSU ranked fifth.

“We are still in it,” said Beckwith, one of the leaders of LSU’s second-ranked defense. “A one-loss team can still make it to the national championship.”

But a two-loss national champion is just a fantasy in college football’s futile postseason structure.

LSU must win all of its remaining game to meet the expectations of preseason prognosticators and travel just an hour south to New Orleans for January’s national championship game.

“We’ve just got to take advantage of our opponents,” Jackson said, “and that’s Saturday versus Auburn.”

No. 5 LSU (6-1, 3-1 SEC) hosts No. 18 Auburn (5-2, 3-1) on Saturday night in what is sure to be an electric atmosphere in Tiger Stadium for this annual SEC West showdown.

In five of the past seven seasons, the winner represented the division in the SEC championship game in Atlanta, but this year’s meeting holds more for LSU.

“You don’t worry about the national title at this point,” said Miles, who has lost five games in 21/2 seasons with LSU.

“You worry about our next opponent.”

Auburn was in a similar situation. The Tigers needed some help in 2004 but didn’t get it when Southern Cal and Oklahoma failed to lose a game down the stretch. Even with a 12-0 record, coach Tommy Tuberville’s team was snubbed from the national championship game.

One of 60 coaches who votes in the USA Today poll, Tuberville was asked if he would vote for a one-loss team like LSU over an undefeated squad.

“There’s no doubt,” he said.

“I’m going to vote for the best team. There are a lot of great games left. It’s going to be a scramble to the
end.”

That scramble begins Saturday when his Tigers meet the Bayou Bengals in a game that surely will decide something: a national champion, an SEC champion.

“You never know what can happen,” Beckwith said.

“This is a tough conference, and we have to keep our heads up because we still have a lot to play for.”

Five things you might not know about LSU

  • LSU’s school colors of purple and gold were born from a Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama coast tradition: Mardi Gras.

    In 1893, LSU’s football coach and some of his players went into town to buy ribbon to adorn their gray jerseys. Stores were stocking ribbon in the colors of Mardi Gras — purple, gold and green — but the green ribbons hadn’t arrived.

    The coach and players bought all of the purple and gold ribbons and made them into rosettes and badges.

  • LSU’s Tiger Stadium once housed 1,500 dorm rooms. The rooms are now abandoned, but they were once filled with crazed students who would lean out of their dorm windows and taunt opposing teams making their way into the stadium. Now, students and fans just do that from the streets that circle the stadium.

  • LSU has won 50 games since 2003. That’s the third-most in the nation. Southern Cal leads the nation with 52 and Boise State follows with 51.

  • LSU has won 17 straight home games, tying the school’s longest streak in history. The Bayou Bengals have won 24 straight night games in Tiger Stadium. Auburn has won eight straight SEC road games. Something’s got to give.

  • LSU had four players drafted in last year’s NFL draft, including the
    first pick, quarterback JeMarcus Russell, who went to the Oakland Raiders.

    Ross Dellenger, Daily Sports Writer

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