In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of college football, winning big against a lesser opponent sometimes isn’t enough.
Such was the case for LSU Monday, which dropped to No. 3 in the Associated Press Top 25 despite a 49-3 pasting of Northwestern State, a member of the championship subdivision of Division I, last Saturday. The Tigers were leapfrogged by Alabama, which had an impressive road win at Penn State to vault past the Tigers to the No. 2 spot.
But it’s only fair. An opening week win over Oregon pushed LSU, a preseason No. 4, past Alabama, which was the preseason No. 2, in the AP poll (LSU did not move past Alabama in the coaches poll and on Monday remained at No. 3, one spot behind Alabama in the coaches poll.).
So tit for tat.
At any rate, there was no time to dwell on polls Monday for LSU, which has first true road game looming with Mississippi State Thursday in Starkville.
“We’re putting in a game plan in two days’ less time,” head coach Les Miles said during Monday’s weekly news conference, which was an hour and a half later in the day to accommodate the week’s abbreviated preparation schedule. “And ... we have to improve.”
MSU (1-1), which is ranked No. 25 in both the AP and coaches’ poll after a 41-34 loss to Auburn Saturday is deemed by Miles as “a very good Mississippi State football team.”
The Bulldogs will give the Tigers’ defense another test. After frustrating Oregon’s vaunted offense in the season opener, the Tigers will face the SEC’s leading offense in the early season.
“A great scheme,” said Miles of Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen’s offense. The Bulldogs lead the SEC in rushing and Miles said running Vick Ballard, who leads the SEC and is third in the nation with 301 rushing yards, is “a very, very talented back, very capable.”
Here are some points covered by Miles during his abbreviated news conference that lasted 25 minutes, about 20 minutes short of a normal Miles Monday presser.
• He said he does not expect injured guard Josh Dworaczyk (knee) to return this season.
“We don’t expect Josh to be back,” Miles said. “He’s doing a great job as a student assistant right now. We would like if at all possible, for the NCAA to consider him as a medical candidate and for him to return next year.”
Dworaczyk suffered a knee injury in the Cotton Bowl and re-aggravated the injury during August camp. He hasn’t played this year after starting 23 straight games leading up to this season.
• Linebacker Ryan Baker, who served a one-game suspension against Northwestern State for violating team rules, has been reinstated for this game.
“We’re going to play him as we see fit, how practice week goes,” Miles said.
• Miles said quarterback Jarrett Lee is healthy and ready to go. Lee said out the second half of the Northwestern game after he looked hobbled at the end of the first half.
But Lee left the game only after LSU built a 28-3 lead, giving in to sophomore Zack Mettenberger.
“There’s not any injury that will stop any of our players from playing,” Miles said. “Certainly not Lee. I expect full practices from him. I anticipate playing Lee, really start to finish.”
He did say playing Mettenberger is “something we are giving consideration to” after a strong showing against Northwestern, “but I don’t think there’s a plan to give him a specific series.”
• Miles said he did not have new news on suspended players Jordan Jefferson and Josh Johns.
• Miles said he would not be opposed to a future Thursday night game at Tiger Stadium.
“I like the idea,” he said.
But he also said it would have to be a week when school was not in session on either Thursday or Friday because game-day parking would interfere with parking for evening classes.