LSU made one of the biggest headlines in college football last weekend when as the No. 25 team in the AP preseason poll whipped preseason No. 8 Miami 33-17.
That earned the Tigers a leap to the 11th spot in this week’s poll with their SEC opener at No. 7 Auburn looming on Sept. 15.
But in between last week’s big win and next week’s big game, LSU (1-0) plays its home opener Saturday night against FCS member Southeastern Louisiana (0-1), which is making the less than an hour-long bus ride from its campus in Hammond to Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
“We know that those guys are going to come in here and give us their best shot,” Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said. “It’s not about them. It’s always going to be about the LSU Tigers. Our goal is to prepare each week the same, treat every opponent the same and prepare at a championship level each week.”
The Lions lost their first game under new head coach Frank Scelfo when they traveled to Louisiana-Monroe and fell 34-31 as a potential game-tying and overtime-inducing 37-yard field goal was blocked on the final play of the game.
Southeastern Louisiana has not won any of the 23 games it has played against FBS teams since it reinstated its football program in 2003.
“We’ve got to stay focused on this game — not for the atmosphere, not for the stadium, not for national television, anything like that,” Scelfo said. “We just have to stay focused for the opportunity that we have on the field.
“None of that matters. It doesn’t make a difference one way or the other. What matters is how well we practice and prepare and that puts us in a position not only to play well on Saturday, but grow as a team as the season goes on and get better as the year goes on.”
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, a graduate transfer from Ohio State, made his much-anticipated Tigers debut and his first collegiate start against Miami. He didn’t need to do much but he was poised and mistake-free as he completed 11 of 24 for 140 yards.
“I thought I played OK,” Burrow said. “Us as an offense, we played average. And we kind of dominated the whole game, so we have a lot to get better at.”
SLU has a transfer quarterback of its own. Former Fresno State quarterback Chason Virgil made his Lions debut against Louisiana-Monroe and completed 28 of 39 for 358 yards and four touchdowns.
“Chason really played well the other day. He had the hot hand, so we kept him in there,” Scelfo said.
Virgil has been engaged in a tight battle with another junior quarterback — Lorenzo Nunez.
“Lorenzo’s going to play for us,” Scelfo said. “He’s going to play quarterback. We used him at running back, receiver, quarterback all those places last week and we’ll probably continue that trend, but he’s going to continue to play quarterback. He’s such a good athlete for us. He’s got the ability to be a game-breaker for us. He’s got the ability to be matchup problems for other teams.”
Virgil’s primary target was Juwan Petit-Frere, who caught five passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
Petit-Frere, Virgil and the entire SLU offense will face a much stronger challenge against an LSU defense that didn’t allow the Hurricanes to reach the end zone until the Tigers had rolled to a 33-3 third-quarter lead.
LSU suffered a setback from starting edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fourth quarter.
After a slow start against Miami, LSU’s running game got a boost from senior Nick Brossette, who had career highs of 22 carries and 125 yards and scored the first two touchdowns of his career.