It's GameDay: Football Has Final Non-Conference Test
Sr. Assoc. Athletic Director/SID
BATON ROUGE - LSU will get its final opportunity to extend the nation's longest non-conference regular season winning streak this year as the third-ranked Tigers host Towson at 6 p.m. on Saturday in a sold out Tiger Stadium.
The Towson game serves as the final non-conference contest of the regular season as the Tigers close out their schedule with seven straight Southeastern Conference games beginning next week against 11th-ranked Florida in Gainesville. LSU is 4-0 overall and 1-0 in league play following last week's 12-10 road win over Auburn.
The LSU-Towson game will be televised nationally on ESPNU. The game can also be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network and in the GeauxZone on LSUsports.net with Jim Hawthorne, Doug Moreau and Gordy Rush on the call. Hawthorne, the legendary LSU announcer, will be recognized at halftime for his 30 years of service as the Voice of the Tigers.
LSU brings an NCAA record streak of 40 consecutive non-conference regular season games into the contest. LSU hasn't lost a non-conference regular season game since the 2002 season opener when Virginia Tech posted a 26-8 win over the Tigers in Blacksburg.
LSU also has the nation's longest home field winning streak at 20 in a row, which also stands as a school record. LSU's last loss came in October of 2009 when top-ranked Florida beat the Tigers, 13-3.
Towson, members of the Colonial Athletic Association in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly called 1-AA) is 2-1 overall and ranked 12th in its division. Towson, also nicknamed the Tigers, went 9-3 and claimed the CAA league title last year after going 1-10 in 2010 for the biggest turnaround in Division I football last season.
"We expect to be tested and to get their best effort," LSU coach Les Miles said of Towson. "We have great respect for them. They have a very good quarterback and a running back that is elusive and very athletic. Defensively, they are giving up just 107 passing yards a contest. They have a tremendous safety and a very good defensive front.
"We have had a good week of practice. We addressed our mistakes from the Auburn game and realize that we have to play better in all three phases of the game going forward. I think we made strides this week in practice now we have to go out and execute on Saturday night."
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The Tigers will counter a Towson defense with an offense that is averaging 442.0 yards per game (247.5 rushing, 194.5 passing). Sophomore Kenny Hilliard leads LSU with 343 rushing yards and six touchdowns, while junior Spencer Ware appears to be back at full strength and is coming off his best game of the year against Auburn with 90 yards on 16 carries. Ware also caught two passes for 44 yards in the win over Auburn.
"I think he's in a position where he's put himself in great shape and he's looking forward to having a great rest of the year," Miles said of Ware. "I would read him as a guy who's going to compete like heck for the duration (of the season), health being a key piece to that."
The emergence of Ware comes at a good time as the Tigers will again be without running back Alfred Blue, who started the first three games of the season. Blue still ranks second on the team with 270 rushing yards and a pair of touchdown.
"I'm not overly-optimistic," Miles said on Blue's return in the near future. "I think he's going to come back. I think he's going to be healthy, but I just don't know what length of time."
Junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger has completed 63-of-93 passes for 778 yards, four touchdowns and just two interceptions. Mettenberger's top target has been sophomore Jarvis Landry, who has 17 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown.
Times of Interest
Defensively, LSU has picked up where it left off a year ago and that's being ranked among the top defensive units in the country. In four games, the Tigers have allowed just five touchdowns (1 rushing, 4 receiving) and they are ranked in the top five nationally in four categories. LSU is No. 3 in the nation in rush defense (56.75 yards per game), No. 4 in total defense (199.5) and No. 8 in both passing defense (92.27) and scoring defense (10.25).
Defensive end Sam Montgomery is coming off his best performance of the season with 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a safety in the win over Auburn. Montgomery was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his play in last week's win as Auburn crossed midfield just one time in the second half of the 12-10 LSU victory.
Other defensive standouts through the first four games of the year include: linebacker Kevin Minter (25 tackles, 4.0 TFL), linebacker Lamin Barrow (24 tackles), defensive tackle Anthony Johnson (14 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1.0 sack), and defensive back Micah Eugene (9 tackles, 3.0 sacks).
So far this year, 16 players on the LSU defense have recorded either a sack or a tackle for loss with three others being responsible for a turnover. The Tiger defense has also scored (2 TDs, 1 safety) in LSU's last two games.
On special teams, punter Brad Wing continues to be impressive with a 45.4 average. Wing, who ranks third in the SEC in punting, has five punts of 50-yards or more and seven punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
Kicker Drew Alleman has connected on 5-of-7 field goals this year and he's 21-of-25 for his career ranking him as one of the most efficient field goal kickers in school history.
The Towson game will mark LSU's eighth against a team from the FCS as the Tigers are 7-0 versus opponents from the lower division. Last year, LSU beat Northwestern State, 49-3, in what was its last game against an FCS opponent.
Towson comes to Tiger Stadium led by one of the top players in the FCS in sophomore running back Terrance West, who has scored 34 touchdowns in his 14-game career at Towson. In three games this year, West has rushed for 251 yards and five scores in helping Towson to wins over William & Mary and St. Francis.
Senior quarterback Grant Enders is 11-3 as a starter for Towson, which includes a 9-2 record in 2011. Enders has thrown for 2,700 yards and 20 touchdowns in his just two years at Towson.
Defensively, safety Jordan Dangerfield leads Towson in tackles with 20, while senior defensive end Romale Tucker leads the team in sacks with three to his credit.