He didn’t exactly inject himself back into the Heisman Trophy conversation, but LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu made his most significant contributions in five weeks during the Tigers’ 42-9 victory against Western Kentucky on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
Mathieu made so many big plays during the first six games that he was being discussed nationally as a Heisman Trophy contender even though he doesn’t play offense and is just a sophomore. But just as the “Honey Badger” publicity peaked, Mathieu’s impact suddenly became much less significant.
He made just one assisted tackle and was beaten for a couple of big plays in the 35-7 victory at Tennessee on Oct. 15. A week later, Mathieu, fellow cornerback Tharold Simon and running back Spencer Ware were held out of the game against Auburn for violating a team rule. Multiple media reports said the violation was a failed test for a banned substance.
The trio returned Nov. 5 at Alabama, but Mathieu’s most notable play was a holding penalty on a punt return that backed up the Tigers to their 5-yard line late in the game on a play many thought was a cheap shot by Mathieu on Crimson Tide cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
But Saturday night, Mathieu had seven tackles, the most he has had since the third game of the season, and half a tackle for loss, his first such play since the game against Florida on Oct. 8. He also had a pass breakup, a quarterback hurry, and his longest punt return of the season (29 yards).
Mathieu has not spoken with reporters, other than ESPN’s Erin Andrews, since mid-October.
Unanimous No. 1
LSU was a unanimous No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll, marking the first time since 2008 a team has received all the first-place votes during the regular season.
The Tigers (10-0), who have been No. 1 since Sept. 25, received all 60 first-place votes from the media panel in the rankings released Sunday. The last unanimous top-ranked team in the regular season was Texas on Oct. 26, 2008.
LSU had been sharing first-place votes for the last month and a half with Alabama, Oklahoma and Boise State. But as those teams each took a loss, the Tigers picked up support.
Boise State was the only team other than LSU receiving a first-place vote last week, but after Texas Christian University upset the Broncos 36-35 in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday, the Tigers made a clean sweep.
For the first time this season, LSU was unanimous as college football’s top team in all three polls.
LSU got all 59 votes in the USA Today coaches poll and all 115 in the Harris Interactive poll.
WKU to discipline assistant
Western Kentucky plans to retain Lance Guidry and handle punishments internally after the defensive coordinator was arrested in Baton Rouge on Saturday morning for driving while intoxicated.
WKU head coach Willie Taggart said in a statement Sunday “there will be disciplinary measures as a result” but did not specify what the punishment would be.
Guidry coached Saturday in Tiger Stadium. He was arrested, according to Taggart’s statement, after meeting up with a friend at a restaurant near the team hotel.
Guidry registered a 0.123 blood alcohol content after officers saw his car weaving over the center line, according to an affidavit obtained by The Advocate. A 0.8 blood alcohol content is considered evidence of intoxication in Guidry’s home state of Louisiana.
WKU RB nears 100 yards
LSU gave up 100 yards rushing to an opposing running back for the first time this season, sort of. Western Kentucky’s Bobby Rainey accumulated 102 rushing yards late in the fourth quarter Saturday night, but lost 17 yards on his final carry.
He finished with 85 yards on 28 carries. The only opposing running back to rush for more yards against the Tigers is Alabama’s Trent Richardson, who had 89 yards in LSU’s 9-6 overtime victory Nov. 5.
Lots of Tigers get involved
LSU got plenty of players involved against the Hilltoppers. Nine Tigers rushed the football, and Alfred Blue led the way with a career-high 119 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
Other notable runners included quarterback Jarrett Lee, who had one carry for a season-high 15 yards, and freshman running back Kenny Hilliard, who had two touchdowns despite finishing with zero yards on four carries.
Tight end Travis Dickson made the first catch of his career.
Tahj Jones made the first interception of his career and the first by a Tigers linebacker this season. He was the eighth LSU player to make an interception this season.
LSU outscored WKU 28-2 in the second half, improving its second-half scoring margin to 192-56 for the season. … S Eric Reid and DE Barkevious Mingo both set career-highs with eight tackles. … DT Bennie Logan set his career-high with six tackles, and LB Lamin Barrow tied his with six. … CB Ron Brooks tied his career-high with two tackles for loss. … LSU prevented the opponent from scoring from inside the Tigers 20 for just the second time this season when it had a goal-line stand against the Hilltoppers. Mississippi State was the only other opponent to fail to score once it penetrated the Tigers 20. … WKU’s Casey Tinius was short on a 49-yard field goal a week after Alabama missed 4 of 6 field goals against LSU. Before the Bama game LSU opponents were 9-for-9 on field goals.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.