A look at LSU

When the Rebels and Tigers square off in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday night at 6:45, it will be the 94th renewal of a storied rivalry.

Louisiana State University is another in the long line of original SEC member schools with a rich tradition in college football. LSU was founded in 1860 and played their first football game on November 25, 1893, a 34-0 loss to Tulane.

In deciding upon the colors for their newly formed football squad, the colors of Mardi Gras were selected. Mardi Gras colors were purple, gold and green but the local merchant who sold the Mardi Gras ribbon was out of green, so LSU chose purple and gold, it's been the Tigers' colors ever since.

LSU didn't get around to giving their football team a nickname until the season of 1897. There was a famous battalion of Louisiana soldiers in the Civil War known as the "Louisiana Tigers" for their fierce fighting skills, so the nickname Tigers was chosen.

The students of LSU wanted a real Bengal tiger to be their team mascot, so in 1936, the student body raised $750 to buy their first real tiger. The name Mike was chosen to honor longtime LSU athletics trainer, Mike Chambers. LSU is now on Mike V, Mike I lived 21 years, longest of the five tigers serving as LSU's mascot.

The Tigers play their home games in Tiger Stadium first built in 1924, which currently has a seating capacity of 91,600. Bear Bryant once said of playing in Tiger Stadium, "it's like being inside a drum." LSU has had great success over its 113 years of playing football, winning 666 games, losing 373 and tying 47. They lay claim to six national championships, nine SEC championships, have had 48 All-Americans and one Heisman trophy winner, Billy Cannon.

Their last undefeated/untied season was 1958 at 11-0, a national championship season under Paul Dietzel. Dietzel made this squad famous by having three distinct teams, the "White Team" being their number one offensive team, the "Go Team" their number two team and the "Chinese Bandits" were their defensive specialty team.

Charlie McClendon followed Dietzel in 1962 as head coach of the Tigers. In 18 season, he became the Tigers' most successful coach in LSU history. Charlie Mac, as he was known, won 137 games, lost 59 and tied 7.

LSU floundered through seven coaching changes between 1980 and 2000. In 2000, Nick Saban arrived in Tiger land and quickly rebuilt the Tigers back into a national power. Saban led LSU to another national championship season in 2003, then left for the pros after the 2004 season.

Les Miles was hired to replace Saban and the Tigers continue to roll along. They are in control of their own destiny in the SEC West going into this week's battle with Ole Miss. Miles coached against the Rebels in the 2004 Cotton Bowl, losing 31-28, to an Eli Manning-led Rebel team. Miles played his college football at Michigan, later was an assistant there, Colorado, Oklahoma State and the Dallas Cowboys. Miles was named head coach at Oklahoma State in 2001, were he went 28-21 with the Cowboys in four seasons.

The Tigers enter the Ole Miss game with a record of 8-1, 5-1 in the SEC West. LSU opened with a win over Arizona State 35-31, then lost an overtime game at home to Tennessee 30-27. Since the Vols loss, the Tigers have reeled off seven straight wins starting with Mississippi State 37-7, Vanderbilt 38-6, Florida 21-17, Auburn 20-17 in overtime, North Texas 56-3, Appalachian State 24-0 and last week an overtime win at Alabama 16-13.

This Ole Miss-LSU game will be the 94th meeting between these two schools dating back to December 3, 1894, a game won by Ole Miss 26-6 in Baton Rouge. Ironically, only 11-of-the-93 previous games have been played in Oxford. LSU played in a much larger home stadium, so far many years the Tigers bought the Rebels' home game against Ole Miss and played it in Tiger Stadium. Former Rebel Coach Johnny Vaught, loved playing and beating LSU at home on a late October, Saturday night.

LSU leads the series 52-37-4, the Rebels have a 6-4-1 advantage in Oxford. Ole Miss has played LSU in Baton Rouge, Oxford, Jackson, Meridian, Vicksburg and New Orleans.

LSU comes into this Ole Miss game with the number two scoring offense and defense in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers are scoring 30 points per game and allowing only 13.8 points per game, which is fourth nationally. The Tiger offense is averaging 387 yards per game while the defense is giving up 294.4. LSU leads the SEC and is second nationally in net punting at 40.5 yards per punt. The Tigers also lead the SEC in pass efficiency with a rating of 151.0.

Offensively, LSU is a 2-back set team led by senior Joseph Addai. The Tigers offensive coordinator/quarterbacks' coach is Jimbo Fisher, a 1989 graduate of Salem College. Fisher had coaching stops at Samford, Auburn and Cincinnati before joining Saban's staff in 2000. LSU will likely start six seniors, three juniors and two sophomores against the Rebels. The Tigers' offensive line averages 309, their run/pass ration is three runs for every two passes. Key offensive players include:

- QB 4 JaMarcus Russell, So., 6-5, 248 - 151-241, 62.7%, 1988yards, 12 td's, 5 int, 47 rushes for (-23) net yards

- RB 10 Joseph Addai, Sr., 6-0, 210 - 137 rushes for 668 yards, 4.9 ave, has 14 receptions for 119 yards

- RB 25 Justin Vincent, Jr., 5-10, 213 - 77 rushes for 354 yards, 4.6 ave

- ZR 80 Dwayne Bowe, Jr., 6-3. 217 - 31catches for 548 yards, 17.7ave, big play receiver

- ZR 5 Skyler Green, Sr., 5-10, 185 - 27 catches for 211 yards, 7.8ave, possession receiver

- XR 3 Craig Davis, Jr., 6-2, 195 - 24 catches for 387 yards, 16.1 ave

- XR 9 Early Doucet, So., 6-0, 206 - 22 catches for 342 yards, 15.5 ave

- LT 76 Andrew Whitworth, Sr., 6-7, 325 - All-American, making his 49th straight start.

The Tigers are missing running back Alley Broussard who is out for the season with a knee injury. Broussard put 252 yards rushing on the Rebel defense in last year's 27-24 win over Ole Miss.

Defensively, LSU is another 4-3-4 team. Bo Pelini is the Tigers' defensive coordinator/secondary coach in his first year at LSU. Pelini is a 1990 graduate of Ohio State, he has coached in the pros, Nebraska and Oklahoma before joining Miles' staff. LSU will likely start six seniors, three juniors and two sophomores. The Tiger defense has 28 sacks and six interceptions, their defensive line averages 282 pounds per man, the linebackers average 229 and the DB's average 194. Key LSU defensive players include:

- WLB 7 Ali Highsmith, So., 6-1, 226 - 30 solo + 30 assist, 60 tackles

- MLB 46 Cameron Vaughn, Sr., 6-4, 237 - 26 solo + 30 assist, 56 tackles

- FS 30 LaRon Landry, Jr., 6-2, 180 - 32 solo + 19 assist, 51 tackles

- RT 95 Kyle Williams, Sr. 6-2, 295 - 19 solo + 22 assist, 41 tackles

- SS 31 Jesse Daniels, Jr. 5-11, 200, 17 solo + 15 assist, 32 tackles.

Special team players for LSU include:

Punter/FG - 41 Chris Jackson, Jr.- 42.4 average punting and is 6-14 in field goals

Punt Returns - 5 Skyler Green, Sr. - returned 19 for 281 yards, 14.8 average

PAT Kicker - 6 Colt David, Fr. - 21-22 in placement kicks

KO Returns - 5 Skyler Green, Sr. - returned 11 for 226, 20.5 average.

THOUGHTS: LSU is the most talented team the Rebels have played this season. LSU is also the SEC's most penalized team with 78 penalties for 675 yards. LSU is No. 1 in the red zone at 90% efficiency, scoring 21 touchdowns and six field goals. LSU is last in the SEC at kicking field goals, making only 8-of-17.

The Rebel defense will have to play four quarters the way they did against Arkansas in the first half, including creating some turnovers, and the Ole Miss offense will have to figure out a way to possess the ball for longer periods and sustain drives and mvoe the chains rather than producing a bunch of three-and-out series.

It will take an outstanding effort to beat the Tigers, but stranger things have happened in this colorful series.

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