No. 1 LSU refocuses on trip to Ole Miss

Field Level Media

November 13, 2019 at 8:09 am.

No. 1 Louisiana State took control of the SEC West race when it defeated No. 2 Alabama 46-41 last week.

By emphatically ending an eight-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide, the Tigers moved past Ohio State and into the top spot in the College Football Playoff rankings. They are so lofty right now that they might be able to suffer a loss and still make the CFP semifinals.

But LSU (9-0, 5-0) isn’t going to take a victory lap just yet. The next step is a road game against Ole Miss (4-6, 2-4) on Saturday night in Oxford.

“We’re going to treat this week just like any other week,” Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said. “I think that we have a mature enough team not to look down the road because if we don’t beat Ole Miss it won’t happen.”

Orgeron understood the LSU-Ole Miss rivalry from both sides, even before he became the Tigers head coach in 2016. He grew up in Louisiana as an LSU fan and was the Rebels head coach from 2005-07.

He won just three SEC games in three seasons with the Rebels before being fired.

“Ole Miss was a great opportunity for me,” Orgeron said. “It was my first job. It was in the SEC. I learned a lot of things. I learned how to do things; I learned how not to do things. So I’m very appreciative of that job. I don’t like the results, but you know what, it prepared me for down the road.”

Now LSU has games against the Rebels, Arkansas and Texas A&M before a likely SEC Championship Game against Georgia — and perhaps more.

“The message last week was, ‘It’s still all about LSU,’ and that’s how it is every week,” Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow said. “We didn’t go into last game thinking, ‘This is our Super Bowl.’ It was just another game where if we played as well as we could play then we’ll win the game. We feel like that’s the case every week.”

Ole Miss would need to pull off the biggest upset of the season this Saturday and defeat Mississippi State on Thanksgiving night just to get bowl eligible.

“That was the goal coming into the season, to try and get this program back to the postseason,” Rebels coach Matt Luke said.

“We have two games left and that’s what we want to do, we want to win both of them. If it comes down to it at the end, we’ll focus on it then. But right now, we have to focus on LSU and find a way to win this football game.”

The Rebels’ primary challenge will be to do something no LSU opponent, including Alabama, has been able to do — slow down Burrow, the Heisman Trophy favorite.

The senior is completing an astonishing 78.9 percent of his passes for 3,198 yards, 33 touchdowns and four interceptions.

“We’ve got nine games worth of tape to watch to try and find out ways to slow him down,” Luke said.

“We’ve got to get some pressure on him to get him out of his comfort zone a little bit. When the plays are there, we have to make them. When we have an opportunity for an interception, we’ll have to take it.”

LSU’s Justin Jefferson leads a standout group of receivers, with 62 catches for 898 yards and nine touchdowns. Ja’Marr Chase has hauled in 10 scoring receptions.

Ole Miss freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is coming off a 177-yard rushing performance in a 41-3 win over New Mexico State. He has 777 rushing yards in seven games this season in coordinator Rich Rodriguez’s zone-read offense.

“I have been blessed with speed and pretty good vision as well,” he said. “So, when you break that initial line you only got two or three guys to make miss.”

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