No. 25 LSU tries to bounce back versus Syracuse

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Reality hit LSU like a downhill freight train last week in a 37-7 wipeout loss at Mississippi State, dropping the Tigers to No. 25 in the national rankings and shaking the swagger they had developed in two relaxed wins over BYU and Tennessee-Chattanooga.

That heaping dose of SEC humility may be exactly what a flag-happy and inconsistent LSU team needs to rebound against Syracuse on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.

"Mississippi State played as good as they can play, and we played as bad as we can play," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said in assessing the Tigers' 30-point upset loss last week. "We didn't prepare (the players) as well as we should. I think this is going to be a turning point. It better be."

LSU (2-1) is more than a three-touchdown favorite over the Orange (2-1), who have played three "directional" schools -- Central Connecticut State (50-7 victory), Middle Tennessee (30-23 loss) and Central Michigan (a 41-17 victory) -- before entering the meat of their schedule.

Over the next eight weeks, in addition to LSU, the Orange will play five nationally ranked teams -- No. 2 Clemson (Oct. 13), No. 14 Miami (Oct. 21), No. 12 Florida State (Nov. 4) and No. 19 Louisville (Nov. 19) -- and three of those will be on the road.

Syracuse coach Dino Babers said his team isn't shrinking from that challenge.

"I'm looking forward to going down there and hitting that tiger with that microphone," Babers said, referring to the practice of LSU cheerleaders getting the caged Mike the Tiger to roar on cue. "I think everyone else is too. This team is ready. We understand what the schedule is, and we're ready to play it."

Babers said his team won't be able to line up against LSU and beat the Tigers physically at the point of attack as Mississippi State did on both sides of the ball last week.

"We're not Mississippi State," Babers said. "Our left tackle can't do (what they did). Our tailback can't do (what they did). It's two different teams, so we have to attack them a different way. We've got to do what we do, and hopefully things will work out."

LSU probably will get back to basics, but it likely to be without running back Derrius Guice, considered a Heisman Trophy candidate before the season. He left the Mississippi State game with a left knee injury that Orgeron initially called "minor."

Per The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Orgeron said on his radio show that Guice "will not play this week, but he is getting better."

Guice, who did not dress for practice Tuesday, has rushed for 300 yards on 57 carries (5.3-yard average) with four touchdowns, but he has yet to break off the long gainers that were his signature last season.

Darrel Williams is likely to start. He has 28 rushes for 159 yards and four touchdowns this season.

LSU continued a worrisome trend against the Bulldogs as two touchdowns were nullified by penalty. Through three games, the Tigers have committed 30 penalties for 272 yards, and several more penalties were declined.

Linebacker Donnie Alexander and defensive end Neil Farrell were ejected for targeting calls against Mississippi State and will have to sit out the first half of the Syracuse game.

"It starts with the penalties," quarterback Danny Etling said.

"When it's second-and-28, there's not much on the play sheet for that situation," Tiger center Will Clapp said.

Orgeron gave extra laps to the players who committed the penalties this week.

LSU may get a boost on the offensive line with the possible return of defensive end Rashard Lawrence, who has been battling an ankle injury. Lawrence was in full pads in Tuesday's practice.

Babers said he believes his team can stick with LSU.

"They're a good football team," he said. "They're different than us, their home field advantage is real. All of their players are five-star guys. ... It's football; you always have a chance."

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