BATON ROUGE, LA. - Everything veteran LSU coach Les Miles and his staff did this past offseason was directed at preparing their No. 2 Tigers (3-0) for the rigors they would face this season.
And after road wins against No. 3 Oregon (40-27) at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and at No. 25 Mississippi State (19-6) last weekend in Starkville, Miss., it would appear as if all of that preparation has paid off.
"I think our team has a great core of men anxious to play this game," Miles explained during his weekly SEC teleconference. "This team doesn't want to be sidetracked or derailed."
Now, Miles leads his Tigers into Big East territory when they take on No. 16 West Virginia (3-0) at Milan Puskar Stadium.
"(The Mountaineers) are a very solid football team and Dana (Holgorsen) has them playing well," Miles said. "I'm sure the atmosphere in Morgantown is going to be wild, but it won't be anything this team hasn't already dealt with."
The Tigers are coming off a 19-6 win over SEC rival Mississippi State in a game where starting quarterback Jarrett Lee completed 21-of-27 attempts for 213 yards and a touchdown while the defense limited its opposition to 193 yards of total offense - 52 coming on the ground.
No. 2 LSU at
No. 16 West Virginia
Time: 8 p.m. Network: ABC
Series History: LSU leads, 1-0
That same prevent unit came up with 15 tackles for loss and Drew Alleman was 4-of-4 on his field goal attempts to keep LSU's run to a possible national championship game alive for at least one more week.
"(Jarrett) Lee coming in and playing at the level he has has made this team stronger," said the coach.
Lee, a senior, came into fall camp expecting to be the backup to returning starter Jordan Jefferson. However, Jefferson's senior season has been sidelined with legal problems that have kept him off of the playing field and into the courts while Lee has completed 67.8 percent (40-of-59) of his attempts for 444 yards and three touchdowns with only one interception.
"His teammates have responded very well," continued Miles. "He was voted as a captain going into our first game. He has given them every reason to count on him and I don't expect anything different on Saturday."
WVU's unique 3-3-5 stack alignment gave Jefferson difficulty in last year's 20-14 win by the Tigers as he was only able to complete 10-of-22 attempts for 75 yards and had two passes picked off by the Mountaineer defense.
The defense, however, is missing seven starters from that unit and is coming off a less-than-spectacular effort in WVU's 37-31 win at Maryland last weekend.
Conversely, the Mountaineers' Geno Smith enjoyed some success against the Tigers' defense, especially in the second and third quarters when he brought WVU back from a 17-0 deficit to trail by only three, 17-14, with one quarter of action left to be played.
Smith competed 14-of-29 passes for 119 yards with two of them going for touchdowns - 5 yards to Stedman Bailey and 13 yards to Jock Sanders.
But, in the end, it was the Tigers' defense that had the last laugh as Smith and company were unable to sustain any kind of attack in the final 15 minutes on its three possessions.
Something Smith hopes won't be the case in Morgantown where a raucous crowd will be with him instead of against him.
"West Virginia is a very good football team," said Miles. "I've been looking forward to this because I've been told Morgantown is a wonderful place to play. Their game day experience is a lot like an SEC game. They have a crowd that is into their team and makes a lot of noise. Our guys enjoy that type of environment."