W Kentucky 9

(5-5, 3-1 away)

(1) LSU 42

(10-0, 6-0 home)

Coverage: ESPNU

7:00 PM ET, November 12, 2011

Tiger Stadium (LA), Baton Rouge, LA

1 2 3 4 T
WKU 7 0 2 09
#1LSU 7 7 14 1442

Top Performers

Passing: J. Jefferson (LSU) - 168 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: A. Blue (LSU) - 9 CAR, 119 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: R. Randle (LSU) - 3 REC, 76 YDS, 1 TD

W. Kentucky-LSU Preview


In what had been billed the Game of the Century, LSU pulled out a hard-fought win to take control of the inside track to the BCS title game.

There is significantly less hype surrounding Saturday night's contest, but Les Miles is quick to point out it's still important.

Miles' top-ranked Tigers look to avoid what would be a shocking letdown and open 10-0 for the first time in more than 50 years as they host Western Kentucky in the first meeting between the programs.

Buildup for LSU's game against second-ranked Alabama last Saturday -- the 23rd regular-season matchup between the top two teams in the AP poll -- had been brewing for weeks with each SEC power coming off a bye. The clash featured two of the nation's top-ranked defenses, and neither allowed its opponent into the end zone. The Tigers (9-0) did just enough to win, as Drew Alleman kicked a 25-yard field goal in overtime to give LSU a 9-6 victory.

"The key is to keep fighting, to find a way," said Miles, who won his 99th career game.

LSU, which hasn't opened with 10 consecutive wins since the 1958 national title team finished 11-0, is now a clear favorite to play for the BCS championship. To assure itself a spot in the title game, however, it still must win its final three regular-season games and the SEC championship.

"There was nothing settled in any way with victory last Saturday," Miles said. "We still have to earn our way. It is all about whom we are about to play and what is a necessary improvement that must take place this week. With that being said, we are looking forward to the process as we go forward."

The Tigers begin their final push as a six-touchdown favorite over Western Kentucky (5-4), which has been outscored by an average of 28.6 points in losing its seven games against ranked teams since 2004.

Although LSU has never faced the Hilltoppers, who completed a transition to the FBS in 2009, it is 34-0 all-time against current Sun Belt Conference members. The Tigers also have won 36 straight regular-season games over non-conference opponents since losing to then-No. 16 Virginia Tech in the 2002 opener.

Most of LSU's success this season stems from a defense that ranks third in the FBS in yards allowed (256.2 per game) and second in scoring (10.9 per game), and it seems slowing down Western Kentucky shouldn't be much of a problem. The Hilltoppers, who defeated Florida International 10-9 last Saturday for a fifth straight win, rank 101st out of 120 FBS schools in both total offense (331.6) and scoring (21.6).

"That is a minor league NFL team we are playing this week," Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart said. "It is a great opportunity for our program and for our guys to go up and see how far we are from being the No. 1 team the country."

Although LSU's defense is certainly intimidating, the offense isn't nearly as sound.

Quarterback Jarrett Lee made his ninth straight start last weekend, but after throwing interceptions on consecutive attempts, Jordan Jefferson ended up playing the overwhelming majority of the game. Jefferson, who lost his starting job when he was arrested and then suspended four games in connection with an August bar fight, took 47 offensive snaps, while Lee was limited to 11.

"He makes a couple of bad throws. That's it," Miles said of Lee's performance against the Crimson Tide. "We need to get him going again. I think his contribution in this season has been so significant ... he is a very, very capable quarterback and certainly we need to have him be that guy."

Miles hasn't announced a starter and scoffs at any notion of a quarterback controversy. The two have often rotated at quarterback since Jefferson's suspension was lifted, as Jefferson is typically inserted to run the option. He has only completed 12 of 20 passes for 190 yards in five games.

LSU's offense revolves around sophomore running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford. Ware leads the Tigers with 541 yards rushing and Ford has 513, though they'll face a Western Kentucky run defense that has held its last four opponents to 72.3 yards per game and 2.8 per carry.

Like the Tigers, the Hilltoppers rely heavily on the ground game. Senior Bobby Rainey is third in the FBS in rushing yards with 1,169, having eclipsed the 100-yard mark in eight of nine contests.

His 155-yard performance last Saturday put him over 4,000 for his career, but he's facing an LSU defense that is second in the nation against the run (78.8 ypg).


Passing Leaders

B. Doughty67.948304910
N. Fant100.02500
A. Jennings48.91611117
B. Harris55.645262

Rushing Leaders

L. Allen27215425.713
A. Wales825186.35
L. Fournette18710345.510
T. Magee1125715.13

Receiving Leaders

J. Dangerfield6982512.011
T. Taylor4576717.07
T. Dural3775820.57
M. Dupre1431822.75