College Football: Top 25 preview
The Top 25 preview …
BATON ROUGE, La. ó Les Miles already has shepherded No. 1 LSU through several distractions that threatened to undermine the Tigers’ bid for a national championship.
The charismatic, grass-eating coach known as the “Mad Hatter” is going to have to do it at least once more when No. 19 Auburn (5-2, 3-1 SEC) visits LSU (7-0, 4-0) today.
LSU will take the field without three key players who were suspended this week for violating the team’s drug policy. Star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu is among LSU’s best players, Spencer Ware is their leading rusher and Tharold Simon plays in the five-defensive back formation that LSU uses most of the game.
Miles has declined to discuss the suspensions, saying only that he is dealing with an internal matter.
Miles said he liked the way the Tigers looked at practice this week.
“I like the position that we’re in,” Miles said. “We have a very capable football team.”
This LSU squad is the first in school history to win its first seven games by double digits. And the timing could have been worse. LSU doesn’t play at No. 2 Alabama, which could be the biggest game of the season, until Nov. 5. The week before that, LSU has a bye.
No. 2 Alabama vs. Tennessee
The Tide has won its last eight games by at least 16 points dating back to the Capital One Bowl victory over Michigan State. That equals the longest such string for Bama in the modern era (going back to 1950), first set in the 1977-78 seasons.
No. 3 Oklahoma (6-0) vs. Texas Tech (4-2)
Both teams rank in the top six in passing and total offense and in the top nine in scoring in the Bowl Subdivision.
No. 4 Wisconsin (6-0) at No. 15 Michigan State (5-1)
Michigan State is second in the nation in total defense. Wisconsin is first in scoring offense. This is the fifth time in the last six meetings Wisconsin will enter its game against Michigan State undefeated. Michigan State is trying for its first 12-game home winning streak since 1966.
No. 5 Boise State (6-0) vs. Air Force (3-3)
Boise State is playing its first home game as a member of the Mountain West Conference and under league rules will not be able to don their favorite uniform combo ó blue shirts and blue pants.
No. 6 Oklahoma State (6-0, 3-0) at Missouri (3-3)
Missouri is among eight schools ranked in top 30 in both total offense and total defense.
No. 7 Stanford (6-0) vs. No. 22 Washington (5-1)
Stanford carries the nation’s longest winning streak at 14 games, also a school record. The Huskies are 5-1 for the first time since 2001.
No. 9 Oregon (5-1) at Colorado (1-6)
Oregon is averaging 315 yards a game on the ground, which is the fifth-most in the country.
No. 10 Arkansas (5-1) at Mississippi (2-4)
Arkansas has won 20 of its past 25 games. That’s the best 25-game stretch for the program since 1988-90.
No. 12 Kansas State (6-0) at Kansas
Kansas State is trying to start 7-0 for the first time since 1999.
No. 13 Nebraska (5-1) at Minnesota (1-5)
This will be the 52nd meeting between these teams.
No. 17 Texas A&M (4-2) at Iowa State (3-3)
Texas A&M is seventh in the nation with 524.7 yards of offense per game.
No. 20 Georgia Tech (6-1) at Miami (3-3)
Miami coach Al Golden spent five years working at Virginia under Al Groh, now the Georgia Tech defensive coordinator. Georgia Tech entered the week as the only team in the country with three players with at least 424 rushing yards so far this season … Miami RB Lamar Miller has 706 yards through six games, putting him easily on pace to be the first Hurricanes’ 1,000-yard back since Willis McGahee in 2002.
No. 21 Houston (6-0) vs. Marshall (3-4)
Houston QB Case Keenum ranks second in career wins among active quarterbacks (30), trailing only Boise State’s Kellen Moore (44).
No. 23 Illinois (6-1) at Purdue (3-3)
Illinois hasn’t won in West Lafayette since 2001. Illinois averages 30.7 points while Purdue averages 30.2.