BATON ROUGE, La. — Don’t tell LSU that it is out of the hunt for the national championship.
Saturday’s 14-6 loss at Florida dropped the Tigers to No. 9 nationally and on the plane ride home, they watched USC dismantle previously unbeaten Georgia to pick up the No. 3 ranking they had left on the field in Gainesville.
Thing is, LSU has won a national championship with one loss. In fact, they’ve won a title with two losses.
With USC coming to Death Valley this week and games remaining against Texas A&M and Alabama, plenty of time remains for the Tigers to get their sputtering offense straightened out.
“The polls are tricky. The polls mean if you whup a good team, you jump right up above them,” LSU junior defensive end and Greenwood native Sam Montgomery said.
“Let’s see ... we mess around and beat South Carolina, go to Texas A&M and do a great job and pull out a win against Alabama,” Montgomery continued. “Where are we sitting at?”
LSU’s 17-game regular season winning streak might be history now, but its 21-game home win streak remains intact. What’s more, LSU has not lost consecutive games since 2008.
“We’re used to these types of games,” junior linebacker Lamin Barrow said. “Everyone’s coming for (us). Big games like this, you play big in a big stadium. Being at home, we’ve got a homefield advantage and we plan on dominating.”
As for USC’s No. 3 ranking?
“It’s motivation in the extreme,” Barrow said. “We know just being in the SEC, it’s a tough test ahead of us and when you have a team coming in (like USC) and an opportunity to beat them, you go out there and play and you get back to where you want to be.”
Like Georgia and other teams before them, LSU’s defense has been spending much of its time this week preparing for Marcus Lattimore.
But Barrow said on Tuesday it has become apparent there is more to the Gamecocks than one all-SEC caliber running back.
“Just looking at their whole offense, they have some prolific wide receivers, a pretty big tight end and, of course, their quarterback is one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the SEC,” Barrow said. “He makes a lot of plays with his feet.”
Playing Florida’s Jeff Driskel was a decent tune-up for USC’s Connor Shaw, but …
“Connor Shaw is even a better running QB than him, so I guess we’ll need to see that first hand,” Barrow said. “Just watching film, he’s a speedy guy who makes a lot of plays with his feet, so he’s someone to watch for.”
During Saturday’s loss in Gainesville, LSU lost linebackers Kevin Minter and Kwon Alexander.
Minter returned, but Alexander will miss the remainder of the season with a broken ankle.
Earlier this season, LSU lost starting left tackle Chris Faulk and starting running back Alfred Blue to knee injuries. Also on Saturday, right guard Josh Williford left with an apparent concussion. His status for this week’s game is to be determined.