LSU looking for payback against Tennessee
Published: Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
BATON ROUGE, La. - For a number of the LSU Tigers, it's hard to forget last season's home loss to Tennessee in Tiger Stadium.
At a glance
It was a long-awaited home opener played on a Monday night because of delays and rescheduling due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Tigers jumped out to a 21-0 lead for a packed crowd in Death Valley, not to mention for LSU loyalists across the state, or displaced across the country, who were watching on TV.
Then they fell apart and lost 30-27 in overtime as the Volunteers celebrated on the field while stunned silence wafted over an emotionally drained crowd.
"For me, it's on my mind, definitely," running back Jacob Hester said. "The way they celebrated on our field, the way they acted after they won."
Whether there really is a revenge factor when No. 14 LSU plays at No. 8 Tennessee on Saturday is up for debate. What everyone agrees upon is that the game carries important implications for both teams this season.
"I don't think it's revenge," LSU defensive back Jessie Daniels said. "Maybe we all want payback because of what happened last year, but I just think that it's a big game for us. We want to win this game. I think that's the big thing."
While LSU needs a little help, the Tigers continue to hold out hope of winning the SEC West Division. They need someone to beat Auburn, then LSU (6-2, 2-2 SEC) may be able to win the division by going undefeated the rest of the season, which after Tennessee includes games against Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas.
"With a victory at Tennessee, we have a place to stand in this conference. It's a chance to establish who we are in the West and play ourselves into contention," LSU coach Les Miles said. "Then we might be playing for a little bit more than just the win at Arkansas."
No one is quite sure yet how good this year's LSU team is. The Tigers clearly are loaded with talent, from 6-foot-6, 250-pound cannon-arm quarterback JaMarcus Russell, to a receiving corps led by Dwayne Bowe, to a defense with a ferocious front four and a secondary anchored by hard hitting safeties Daniels and LaRon Landry.
But all six of their victories have been lopsided affairs over clearly outclassed opponents in Tiger Stadium. LSU has lost its only two road games at Auburn and Florida, although even those games seemed winnable for the Tigers if not for a bizarre string of uncharacteristic errors in judgment and turnovers.
A convincing victory over Tennessee on the road, combined with a victory at Arkansas and a 10-2 regular-season record should catapult the Tigers back into the Top 10 and possibly a BCS bowl game, even if LSU finishes second to Auburn in the SEC West.
LSU safety Craig Steltz summed it up like this: "We've got to avenge that loss and show our fans and the state of Louisiana what LSU football is all about."
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