For two Southeastern Conference schools so far apart, the ties between LSU and Tennessee run deep.
It starts with the coaching staffs. Tennessee coach Derek Dooley was an LSU assistant from 2000-04 and later returned to Louisiana to serve as head coach at Louisiana Tech from 2007-09.
Two of Dooley’s assistants also coached at LSU: defensive line coach Lance Thompson (2002-03) and recruiting coordinator/defensive backs coach Terry Joseph (an LSU graduate assistant in 2006).
LSU defensive coordinator/linebackers coach John Chavis played nose tackle at Tennessee in 1977-78 and was an assistant there from 1989-2008. From 1995-2008, Chavis served as UT’s defensive coordinator.
LSU recruiting coordinator/running backs coach Frank Wilson was wide receivers coach at Tennessee in 2009.
Two LSU players are from Tennessee: starting right tackle Alex Hurst (Bartlett) and sophomore defensive end Justin Maclin (Memphis).
Tennessee has three Louisiana players on its roster, all from the Baton Rouge area: linebacker Herman Lathers and left tackle Dallas Thomas (Scotlandville) and free safety Prentiss Waggner (Clinton).
Lathers will not play after suffering a broken ankle this summer that required 11 screws to stabilize. He hopes to return later this season.
Check out these numbers from No. 1-ranked LSU’s 6-0 start:
3 - Number of turnovers LSU has had in six games (last against Mississippi State).
4 - LSU’s number of wins against top 25-ranked teams, the most in the country.
5 - Total number of punt return yards LSU has given up in six games.
6:33 - Total time, all from the season opener with Oregon, LSU has trailed this season. LSU hasn’t been behind in the last 22 straight quarters.
16-3 - LSU’s all-time record when ranked No. 1, including 2-0 this season.
38 - The consecutive number of possessions LSU has gone without a turnover.
42 - The number of three-and-out possessions LSU’s defense has forced out of 76 possessions overall.
208 - Number of offensive snaps since LSU’s last turnover.
1,101 - LSU’s total rushing yards this season.
1,100 - LSU’s total passing yards this season.
What’s in a name?
The big man with the cute nickname broke into a broad grin as he described how his first name and nickname came to be.
“My mom was kind of upset with my dad,” explained defensive end Barkevious “Ke-Ke” Mingo. His father, Hugh Mingo, named Barkevious’ two older brothers after himself, Hugh III and Hughtavious.
When Ke-Ke came around, it was Barbara Johnson’s turn - hence Barkevious.
His much shorter nickname also comes from his mother. It migrated to Baton Rouge when LSU coach Les Miles heard his mother call her son Ke-Ke during a recruiting visit and the name stuck.
There was a time when LSU fans spoke of the “Tennessee jinx” when it came to playing the Volunteers in football.
Tennessee held an overwhelming 18-3-3 lead in the LSU series from 1925-93. That includes a 14-13 upset in 1959, the last time LSU went to Knoxville ranked No. 1, a bitter defeat that likely denied the Billy Cannon-led Tigers a second straight national title.
Since 2000, LSU has dominated. Tennessee still leads 20-8-3 overall (11-2-1 in Knoxville), but the Tigers have won five of the past seven meetings.
That stretch includes wins over the Vols in the 2001 and 2007 SEC championship games and last year’s improbable 16-14 victory in Tiger Stadium, when LSU running back Stevan Ridley scored on an untimed down.
A pair of sweeps
After wins over Kentucky (35-7) and Florida (41-11), LSU is going after its second straight sweep against SEC Eastern division opponents for the first time since divisional play began in 1992.
Last season, LSU beat Vanderbilt (27-3), Tennessee and Florida (33-29).
A pair of sevens
A win Saturday will give LSU its second straight 7-0 start and just the fifth 7-0 start in school history.
LSU’s other 7-0 starts all came in consecutive years: 1958 and 1959, 1972 and 1973.