No. 9 LSU looks to extend dominance over Tulane

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Brothers Rahim Alem and Chad Jones have a somewhat unusual view of the rivalry between LSU and Tulane.

The father of the Tigers' defensive starters, Al Jones, played defensive end for Tulane in the late 1970s. These days, Al and Patti Jones attend their sons' games wearing LSU jerseys with Alem's No. 84 on the front and Jones' No. 3 on the back.

Don't expect Al Jones to break out his old Green Wave jersey for Saturday night's meeting between the two south Louisiana schools. Alem -- who changed his name from Alfred Jones Jr. in college to honor his African heritage -- ripped it while wearing it as a child.

The Tulane memorabilia left at the Jones household these days is limited to little more than a blanket, an old banner and -- of all things -- a doormat, Alem said.

The elder Jones may be proud of his alma mater, but the symbolism, accidental or not, is a little hard to ignore. Tulane has had losing records most of this decade and hasn't beaten LSU since 18 meetings ago in 1982. That also was the last time the Green Wave beat a team ranked in the Top 25.

Since then, Tulane (2-5) has lost 37 straight to ranked squads, including defeats against BYU and Houston this season.

Oddsmakers see little reason why anything will change at Tiger Stadium this time. Ninth-ranked LSU (6-1) is favored by a whopping seven touchdowns.

"It's a tough time to be playing these guys," said Tulane coach Bob Toledo, whose team has dropped three straight. "We need to improve this week, and we need to get better so we can finish strong. We don't want to be embarrassed."

LSU beat Auburn 31-10 last weekend for its most impressive victory of the season.

Quarterback Jordan Jefferson bounced back from the worst performance of his career a couple weeks earlier against Florida and threw for a career-high 242 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Terrance Toliver and Brandon LaFell.

The victory ensured LSU would be able to play for the Southeastern Conference's Western Division lead at Alabama on Nov. 7, the game everyone in Baton Rouge is talking about, even though Tulane is next on the schedule.

LSU coach Les Miles knows there's little he can do about that, so he's implored his players to view Tulane as a critical tuneup for the Tide.

"The good news about this football team is we get to play," Miles said. "When you get to play, there is an opportunity to improve. ... We have to improve to play well against this team and then thereafter."

Miles also stressed that Tulane has players that can hurt LSU if the Tigers fail to focus on the task at hand, players like running back Andre Anderson (646 yards, six TDs) and receiver Jeremy Williams (44 receptions, 662 yards, three TDs).

Even if this game isn't close, it could be an emotional one for longtime fans of either school. LSU Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon is expected to attend for the 50th anniversary of his 89-yard, Halloween night game-winning punt return against Ole Miss. It's also the last scheduled meeting between Tulane and LSU, which have played each other 97 times since 1893. They mutually agreed to prematurely end their current annual series after this year, promising only one more meeting in a season yet to be determined.

"It's unfortunate that it's going to be the last time -- at least for a long time," Toledo said. "I know it's a very difficult game for us to play, but I think it's great from an in-state rivalry point and for that, I'll be sorry to be honest with you."