LSU wasn’t included in CBS’ doubleheader of Southeastern Conference games last Saturday, so now in a way they’ll star in one of their own.
The network announced Monday it will televise No. 1-ranked LSU’s Oct. 15 game at Tennessee. Kickoff is set for shortly after 2:30 p.m. CDT at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.
CBS will also televise Saturday’s LSU-Florida game at 2:30 p.m. in Tiger Stadium.
These will be the Tigers’ first two appearances on CBS this season. The network has also committed to televising LSU’s Nov. 25 home and regular-season finale with Arkansas.
LSU coach Les Miles said he expects starting tailback Spencer Ware, held out most of the Kentucky game with a hamstring pull, to play against Florida.
Even if he can’t, Miles is encouraged by the play of sophomore Alfred Blue. He piled up a game-high 16 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown.
“I think Blue had his best game thus far,” Miles said. “He continues to become more efficient and capable. He’s getting better at finishing runs.”
Surprisingly, Blue is also LSU’s 12th leading tackler with 10 stops on special teams, ranking ahead of defensive regulars like Ron Brooks, Karnell Hatcher and Lavar Edwards.
“He’s accepting the challenge on special teams and at tailback to be the best that he can be to help his football team,” Miles said. “He is a tremendous addition to our team and we will count on him for years to come.”
Miles reacts to NFL talk
An article by CBSSports.com NFL writer Mike Freeman last week said Miles is an increasingly popular head coaching candidate among NFL team executives and will be pursued by pro teams at season’s end. The subject was also a topic debated by Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption.”
Miles, whose lone NFL experience was as a Dallas Cowboys assistant coach from 1998-2000, said he was flattered but tried to dismiss such talk.
“Any time someone says nice things about you, that’s very kind and you recognize that,” said Miles, who was a prominent candidate for the job at his alma mater Michigan last year.
“I just stay away from that. Again, it certainly is a compliment,” Miles said. “I’m happy where I’m at.”
LSU defense ranks high
Despite surrendering 463 passing yards and 533 total yards in its 47-21 win Sept. 24 at West Virginia, LSU’s defense is still highly ranked in several major categories.
LSU is in the top 10 nationally in four key areas: 9th in scoring defense (12.8 points per game allowed), ninth in total defense (262.2 ypg), third in rushing defense (60.4 ypg) and 10th in pass efficiency defense (97.91 opposing quarterback rating). That last stat is despite the fact LSU ranks 38th nationally allowing 201.8 yards passing per game.
LSU is also first in the SEC and fourth nationally with a plus-9 turnover margin.
Sophomore defensive end Sam Montgomery was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week on Monday, while sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was named Louisiana Sports Writers Association defensive player of the week.
Montgomery had six tackles against Kentucky, including two for losses, with 1.5 sacks.
Mathieu had five tackles including a sack and was credited with two forced fumbles, the first he returned 23 yards for a touchdown. Mathieu now has a school record nine forced fumbles in 18 games played.
UF’s Saunders reinstated
Florida freshman De’Ante “Pop” Saunders, the Gators’ starting safety before being suspended for the Alabama game, has been reinstated and will play against LSU, according to The Florida Times-Union.
Sanders (5-foot-8, 192 pounds) was suspended for violating team rules. He did not dress out, nor was he on the Florida bench Saturday.
Sanders is tied for 10th on the team with 11 tackles, including a career-best five against Kentucky on Sept. 24.
Miles on Florida series
While Miles said he didn’t necessarily want Florida to be off LSU’s schedule, he said adding Texas A&M (presumably to the SEC West) puts the game with the Tigers’ permanent SEC East opponent in jeopardy.
“I don’t know that Florida is off the schedule,” Miles said. “That’s not the issue. The issue is that we have an extra team in the West.”
Miles indicated he was not in favor of increasing conference games from the current eight, thus reducing the number of nonconference games.
“Nonconference foes are beneficial to virtually every school,” Miles said. “When you strengthen your conference that much, there should be an opportunity to play nonconference teams.
“I think the one game that has to be in question has to be that (annual) Eastern Division game.”
LSU and Florida have played each year since 1971, long before the SEC went to its current 5-1-2 scheduling format in 2002.
Florida leads the all-time series with LSU 30-24-3, but the schools have split the past 10 meetings. The Gators lead 16-13 in games in Baton Rouge, including a 13-3 win here in 2009.
The Tigers won 33-29 last Oct. 9 in Gainesville, with Jarrett Lee throwing a 3-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Toliver with :06 remaining.
Monday marked the 80th anniversary of the first night game in Tiger Stadium. LSU beat Spring Hill 35-0 on Oct. 3, 1931. ... Mathieu did a live phone interview Monday as part of “The Palmer & Pollack Show” on ESPNU. ... Saturday’s contest has been designated by LSU as the Gold Game. Official Gold Game T-shirts are available at the LSU bookstore in the LSU Union, at the LSU SportsShop and www.LSUShop.net.