How good is LSU?

Posted: September 20, 2013

TWO YEARS removed from a perfect regular season, it almost seems as if Louisiana State has been reduced to playing the role of Fredo Corleone in its own division. Or maybe Larry from the Three Stooges.

For only the third time in a decade the Tigers weren't ranked in the preseason top 10. It hasn't inpeded them before. In 2003, following an 8-5 season, they started at No. 14 but went 13-1 and got Nick Saban his first national title. Also the program's first in 45 years. In 2010 they were 16th, coming off 9-4, and finished 11-2 to end up eighth. One loss was by seven at 14-0 Auburn.

This year, after going 10-3, they were 13th. Now they're seventh. Their win of note was an opening 10-pointer over then-No. 20 Texas Christian in Arlington, Texas. On Saturday, they get fellow unbeaten Auburn, which has already matched its win total from a year ago for first-year coach Gus Malzahn, at home. But if it turns out that those Tigers aren't quite ready for prime time then next week's trip to Georgia will provide a much better barometer. Maybe the first of many. On Oct. 12, they host Florida. The following week they go to Mississippi, which is 3-0 for the first time in a quarter-century. On Nov. 9, they are at Alabama. And on Nov. 23, Texas A&M visits Baton Rouge.

There could easily be at least two or three losses in there somewhere. Or maybe Les Miles - who has been in the news lately more for his alleged role in the alleged mess at Oklahoma State when he called Stillwater home - can pull some more magic out of that white ballcap. It appears the Tigers actually have a passing game for a change, with quarterback Zach Mettenberger and new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Even though the SEC's reknowned for defense that might not be such a bad thing, particularly after just seeing Alabama and A&M put on a show that looked like it belonged in the old WAC.

Miles got a ring in 2007 and might have added another 2 years ago had he not had to face Alabama twice. When nobody's giving him much of a shot, sometimes that's when he's most dangerous. And maybe if LSU had Alabama's crossover games (Tennessee and Kentucky) instead of Georgia and Florida, it would have a much better chance. Nothing you can do about it except try to beat the odds. In the Bayou, this wouldn't be the first time.

Trivial pursuit

Marcus Mariota just had Oregon's first 400-yard passing game in aw hile. So who was the last Duck to do it? No hints. See Answer Man.

Trending

Forget the sound bites. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini - who has lost four times in each of his first five seasons in Lincoln - could become an endangered species because he isn't getting it done.

He earned his reputation on the defensive side of the ball. But the Cornhuskers - who don't play a road game until Oct. 12 at Purdue - allowed more than 600 yards in an opening win over Wyoming. On Saturday they gave up the last 38 points against UCLA. In last year's Big Ten title game they gave up 70 to Wisconsin. And 45 in a bowl loss to Georgia.

The good news is they should still be 6-1 when they host Northwestern on Nov. 2. And they don't play Ohio State or Wisky in the division crossovers.

This and that

* Since Florida and Tennessee began playing every year in 1990, this is just the second time that both enter the game with a loss. The other was 2001, when it had to be rescheduled because of 9/11 and they didn't play until Dec. 1.

* Sophomore Tre Madden is the first Southern Cal back to rush for 100 yards in the team's first three games since Marcus Allen when he won the Heisman in 1981. That's what can happen when Silas Redd injures his knee.

* Maryland is 3-0 for the first time since 2001, the last time it won an ACC title.

* Navy's 92 points are the most it has scored in the first two games since 1975 (97).

* Washington State is the only team allowing fewer than 100 yards a game passing. Holy Mike Leach.

AAC me up

* Rutgers has two kickoff returns for touchdowns for the first time since 2009. The latest to do so was senior Quron Pratt, a wideout from Palmyra (N.J.) High.

* Memphis was penalized 145 yards in a loss at Middle Tennessee, the most by the Tigers since 1965.

* South Florida has won the first quarter, 17-9. In the last three it has been outscored, 93-20. The Bulls just lost 28-0 to Florida Atlantic, which had dropped its first two by a combined 65-19.

Answer man

Kellen Clemens, in 2005.

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