SYRACUSE, N.Y. — While penalties have been a problem in two of LSU’s first three games, especially in Saturday’s 34-24 grind-it-out win at Syracuse, turnovers haven’t been a concern in the Tigers’ 3-0 start.
In fact, LSU hasn’t had a giveaway against Mississippi State, Auburn or Syracuse, snapping the ball for 184 plays without an interception or lost fumble.
The closest LSU has come to losing the ball came in the second quarter Saturday when quarterback Brandon Harris had the ball knocked loose while being sacked. Left tackle Jerald Hawkins fell on the ball to retain possession.
According to LSU research, it’s the first time the Tigers have had no turnovers in the first three games of a season since 1959.
LSU actually has run 202 consecutive plays without a turnover since quarterback Anthony Jennings lost a fumble midway through the third quarter of last season’s Music City Bowl against Notre Dame.
Now for the penalties
Even though his team traveled a long way and won, coach Les Miles was not pleased after his Tigers had 14 penalties for 120 yards against Syracuse.
One of the penalties, an illegal formation infraction, wiped out an 87-yard touchdown run by Leonard Fournette in the final minute of the third quarter. That play would have given him exactly 300 rushing yards for the day.
The 14 accepted penalties against LSU tied for the second-most in Miles’ 11-year tenure after the 15 the Tigers had against Tulane in 2007. The 120 yards lost tied for the third-most behind the 133 yards marched off in 2005 against Vanderbilt and 130 they lost against Alabama in 2007.
“We’re going to take a win any way we can get it, but we have to go in and correct the penalties,” cornerback Tre’Davious White said. “Those things can cost us on down the road.”
Doing his job
Defensive end Lewis Neal, who led LSU with seven tackles Saturday, had one of the penalties when he took down Syracuse quarterback Zack Mahoney after losing his helmet.
When a player’s helmet comes off, by rule he must give himself up on the play. If he continues to pursue, it’s a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
“I didn’t know. I mean, I’m just playing football,” Neal said. “You know what I’m saying? I’m not going to just let him run. They told me after, but I was just doing my job … trying to get to the ball.”
Up one, down one
LSU moved up one spot to No. 8 in the coaches poll and fell a spot to No. 9 in The Associated Press rankings released Sunday.
LSU (3-0) is one of six Southeastern Conference teams in both top 25s. The list includes Ole Miss (third AP, fifth coaches), Georgia (sixth, eighth), Alabama (13th, 12th), Texas A&M (14th, 15th), Mississippi State (22nd, 21st) and Florida (23rd, 25th). Ohio State remains No. 1 in both polls.
LSU lost the first-place vote it received in last week’s AP poll.
With three wins in September, Miles’ record in that month improved to 38-4 since he took over the program in 2005.
The only September losses in that time were to Tennessee (2005), at Auburn (2006), at Georgia (2013) and Mississippi State (2014).
LSU has started 3-0 for the ninth consecutive season. Miles started 2-1 in 2005 and ’06 but has won the first three games each year since 2007. … A victory this Saturday over Eastern Michigan would give the Tigers a 4-0 start for the eighth time in the past nine seasons.
Advocate sportswriter Ross Dellenger contributed to this report.