It's Homecoming: No. 1 LSU Hosts WKU for Purple Game
Baton Rouge, La (NBC33) — LSU coach Les Miles goes after his 100th career win on Saturday as the top-ranked Tigers look to extend the nation's longest non-conference regular season winning streak when they host Western Kentucky for Homecoming.
Miles will be after a milestone on Saturday as he's one win shy of recording his 100th career victory. Now in his 11th season as a head coach, Miles has posted a 99-38 mark, which includes a 71-17 record in seven years at LSU.
Kickoff between the Tigers and the Hilltoppers is scheduled for 6 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Clay Matvick, Brian Griese, and Allison Williams on the call.
Legendary Voice of the Tigers Jim Hawthorne will describe the action on the LSU Sports Radio Network. The remainder of Hawthorne's broadcast team includes veteran analyst Doug Moreau along with former LSU special teams guru Gordy Rush, who gives listeners a taste of the action from the sidelines.
LSU, winners of 10 straight dating back to last year, is 9-0 overall and ranked No. 1 in every major college football poll for the third straight week. LSU is coming off a 9-6 overtime win over second-ranked Alabama last week in Tuscaloosa.
LSU's 10-game winning streak is the longest for the Tigers since winning 13 straight from 2006-07 and it ranks as the sixth-longest streak in school history.
LSU has also won 36 straight non-conference regular season games, which stands as the longest such streak in the nation. LSU hasn't lost a regular season non-conference game since dropping a 26-8 decision to Virginia Tech to open the 2002 season.
Western Kentucky, members of the Sun Belt Conference, has won five straight since opening the season with four consecutive losses. The Hilltoppers stand just one game out of first place in the Sun Belt Conference and are just one victory away from becoming bowl eligible. Western Kentucky brings a 5-4 record into Saturday's game.
"We realize that with each week, the game that we are currently playing becomes more important than the one we just played," Miles said. "Last week's win over Alabama put us in this position. Our players understand that and they responded with a great week of practice.
"This is a very good Western Kentucky team. They've won five straight so they are coming in here with an understanding of how to win and with a lot of confidence. They are well coached and they have playmakers on both sides of the ball."
The Tigers continue to win with a stingy defense, an opportunistic offense and spectacular special teams. LSU's defense has allowed just three first half touchdowns all season and they are ranked in the top 10 in the nation in four major categories - scoring (2nd at 10.89); total defense (3rd at 256.22), rush defense (2nd at 78.78) and pass efficiency defense (4th at 96.73 rating).
The Tiger defense has been paced by a dominant line and a secondary that is considered one of the best units in football. Defensive end Sam Montgomery is coming off a 6-tackle, 2-sack effort last week against Alabama and he ranks among the SEC leaders in both sacks (6.0) and tackles for loss (9.0).
Safety Brandon Taylor leads the Tigers in tackles with 53, while Eric Reid, this week's SEC Defensive Player of the Week, is second on the team with 49 tackles. Taylor and Reid each have a pair of interceptions to their credit.
Tyrann Mathieu is third on the team with 47 tackles and he's among the league leaders in forced fumbles (4) and fumble recoveries (3). Mathieu has also scored touchdowns on both defense and special teams this year.
Offensively, LSU is averaging 35.9 points and 357.3 total yards (184.4 rushing, 172.9 passing) per game. LSU has scored at least 30 points in all but two games and the Tigers have gone over the 40-point mark five times.
LSU is expected to continue with its two quarterback rotation on Saturday against Western Kentucky with seniors Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson sharing snaps. Lee has started all nine games this year for LSU and he's connected on 101-of-162 passes for 1,274 yards, 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
Jefferson is coming off his best game of the season last week as he came off the bench to lead the Tigers to the win over Alabama. Jefferson rushed for 43 yards and threw for another 67 yards in the win over the second-ranked Crimson Tide. For the season, Jefferson has accounted for 344 yards of total offense (154 rushing, 190 passing) and four touchdowns (2 rushing, 2 passing).
"We need the skill sets of both quarterbacks," Miles said. "Both are going to play. We will give view to both players and then see who has the hot hand."
Spencer Ware continues to lead the Tigers in rushing with 541 yards and six scores, while Michael Ford is second on the team with 513 yards and six scores. A third sophomore - Alfred Blue - ranks No. 3 on the team with 252 yards and four scores.
Junior wideout Rueben Randle leads the Tigers with 35 receptions for 657 yards and seven touchdowns, while true freshman Odell Beckham Jr. has 29 receptions for 350 yards and two scores.
Special teams play has been a big reason for LSU's success this year as punter Brad Wing and kicker Drew Alleman rank among the best in the nation. Wing is averaging 43.4 yards on 37 punts and the Tigers lead the SEC and rank No. 5 in the nation in net punting with a 40.7 average.
Alleman, who is in his first year as a starter, has converted on 13-of-15 field goals, including all three of his attempts last week against Alabama, to lead the Tigers in scoring with 77 points. Last week, Alleman kicked a 25-yard field goal in overtime to lead LSU past Alabama in a game that featured five field goals and no touchdowns.