Other than the line seeming slightly inflated on the road due to money coming in all week on the top ranked team in the country, do I really need a column to justify? I guess so, since it seems like LSU pulls away from an overmatched opponent for easy victories all season. The top-ranked Tigers look to keep their perfect season intact and take a step closer to clinching the SEC West when they visit Mississippi, which is trying to avoid losing a 13th consecutive league game while playing without its starting quarterback and top rusher.
One week after a physical and emotional 9-6 overtime win over then-No. 2 Alabama put LSU (10-0, 6-0) in control of its own fate for a berth in the BCS national championship game, Les Miles' team seemed to catch a break with the schedule. The Tigers hosted Western Kentucky last Saturday, and although they came out a bit flat early, they regained their swagger in the second half and pulled away for a 42-9 victory. The challenge now for LSU, which is undefeated through 10 games for the first time since the 1958 national championship team went 11-0, is to avoid looking past Ole Miss (2-8, 0-6) for next week's regular-season finale at No. 6 Arkansas. The Razorbacks are one game back of the Tigers in the division, while Alabama is one-half behind.
Mississippi, which has already announced that coach Houston Nutt won't return next season, has lost 12 straight conference games for the first time in its 79-year history in the SEC. It didn't extend that streak last week, as it hosted Louisiana Tech of the Western Athletic Conference, but instead suffered a far more embarrassing fate, losing 27-7. Although the Rebels, losers of five in a row, are having a down year, LSU likely won't be looking past them considering the recent history in the series combined with the more recent developments last night from Ames. Miles might decide to go with Jordan Jefferson again as his starting quarterback after the senior made his first start of the season last weekend.
Jefferson had split time with Jarrett Lee since his return from a four-game suspension he received after being arrested in an August bar fight. Jefferson, who entered with only 20 attempts, went 8 of 14 for 168 yards with a touchdown. Lee came on in the fourth quarter and threw a TD pass on his first drive. The Tigers racked up a season-best 291 rushing yards last weekend - led by Alfred Blue's 119 on nine carries - and are second in the SEC with 195.1 yards on the ground per game.
Mississippi's offense has been anything but efficient all season, and that doesn't bode well as it prepares to face LSU's stingy defense. The Rebels are 113th in the FBS in total offense with 296.8 yards per game and tied for 109th with an average of 18.7 points. The Tigers are second in both total defense (253.2) and scoring defense (10.7). Randall Mackey completed just 6 of 18 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown against Louisiana Tech, while backup Zack Stoudt was 8 of 19 for 73 yards and an interception. Mackey and running back Jeff Scott were suspended for this game by Nutt on Tuesday for violating team rules. Mackey has started the past six games and thrown for 1,112 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions this season. Scott has rushed for 529 yards and six TDs. The Rebels' likely quarterback will be Zack Stoudt, who has thrown two touchdowns and seven interceptions this season while completing less than 50 percent of his passes.
If the Tigers are back to normal, they've proven very difficult to beat. Miles has taken an unorthodox quarterback situation and turned it into a positive, with Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson combining for 1,647 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions. Running backs Spencer Ware, Michael Ford and Alfred Blue have combined for more than 1,500 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. Grab your dartboards. Each one your throw your attempt to name the score will end up a bullseye. In fact this outcome will have me searching for odds on LSU pitching the shutout. Best of luck however you play!