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LSU convinced Fresno State of its potential two weeks ago in a 38-6 victory over the Bulldogs.

"That team can play with anybody in the country," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said.

That might be true, but it's also true that LSU is running out of time to beat somebody important.

The 13th-ranked Tigers (6-2, 2-2 SEC) have taken care of their business with one-sided wins over Louisiana-Lafayette, Arizona, Tulane, Mississippi State and Fresno State, but they lost the two games that mattered most -- at No. 6 Auburn and No. 7 Florida.

The Tigers will get one more chance this week, when they play at eighth-ranked Tennessee.

"It's the middle of the season now and I think everybody has got the jitters out," wide receiver Dwayne Bowe said. "We can do better than we did at Auburn and Florida. We'll be ready for Tennessee."

Overtaking Arkansas and Auburn to win the SEC West at this point will require a number of circumstances beyond LSU's control. Still, the Tigers can win 11 games and finish in the national top 10 for the second consecutive season if they win their remaining scheduled games and a bowl game.

"It's a huge game for us," cornerback Chevis Jackson said. "We need a victory to continue to keep our goals that we want for the future."

Even if the Tigers can't win the SEC West and meet those goals, there's always the element of pride for a program that has won at least 10 games in three of the past five seasons.

"We've got a lot to prove," LSU strong safety Craig Steltz said. "We have to see how much character we have and what character is all about."


   SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Tigers got more production from their usual playmakers last week, with QB JaMarcus Russell and WRs Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis all playing well, but they also saw some positive signs from TB Alley Broussard. The Tigers continue to lead the SEC with 35.9 points and 414.8 yards per game but they're still trying to elevate their running game as they head into the final stretch.

   SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: While the offense has played its best games against lesser foes and sub-par games against Auburn and Florida, the defense hasn't let up one bit this season. The Tigers continue to lead the nation in both scoring and total defense, allowing just 8.3 points and 211.3 yards per game. They also rank fourth against the pass and eighth against the run, allowing 139 passing yards and 72.6 rushing yards per game. The coaches would like to have more than 14 takeaways but the Tigers still lead the SEC with 26 sacks, which helps them get off the field and give the ball back to the offense.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't know if that's much of an advantage, but if you have a little more time to scrutinize your ideas, you use it. But you probably come together just as quickly as if you had the normal week. But we feel like we used the time well." –- LSU coach Les Miles on making good use of last week's open date.


   THIS WEEK'S GAME: LSU at Tennessee, Nov. 4 –- No SEC team, perhaps no team in the nation, faces a more difficult road schedule this season. The Tigers have already played and lost at Auburn and Florida. Now the Tigers must play at Tennessee. The Tigers moved the ball at times in both losses but were unable to make the most of their offensive opportunities. That will have to change for LSU to finally get over the hump in a big SEC road game.

  PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB JaMarcus Russell -– Russell continued his trend of playing well against lesser opponents on LSU's schedule, completing 15 of 19 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns in his last outing. Now it's time for him to step up in a big game against a top-10 opponent after falling short against Auburn and Florida.

WR Dwayne Bowe -– With four receptions for 106 yards and a 58-yard touchdown reception, Bowe earned SEC offensive player of the week honors and tied for LSU's career receiving touchdown record with 21. He also became the sixth player in LSU history to earn at least 2,000 career receiving yards. Through eight games Bowe is ninth in the SEC with 37 receptions and fourth with 77.5 receiving yards per game. More important, he leads the SEC with seven TD catches.

WR/RS Craig Davis -– With four receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown last week Davis ranks fifth in the SEC with 41 receptions and sixth with 74.4 receiving yards per game. As if that's not enough he's added a new role the past two weeks as a punt returner. In his second game returning punts he took one back 77 yards for a touchdown against Fresno State.

LB Darry Beckwith –- LSU has so many playmakers on defense that none of the starters rank among the SEC's top 10 in tackling but Beckwith has been consistently solid, with 6.4 tackles per game and a career-high 11 tackles against Fresno State.

FS LaRon Landry –- Landry is generally regarded as the SEC's best free safety but Tennessee's passing game will be one of the toughest tests he has faced in four years as a starter.

   ROSTER REPORT: While the open date was good for several banged up players, it probably won't be enough to get two offensive starters back on the field. OG Will Arnold had arthroscopic knee surgery after LSU's 48-17 victory over Mississippi State on Sept. 30 and has missed the past three games. TE Keith Zinger continues to be hampered by an on-going stomach ailment that has forced him to miss five games.

Previous Report: 10/24/2006




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