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LSU hoping to rebound against Akron

September 26, 1997

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ A week after losing a battle with No. 8 Auburn in the final 30 seconds for the top spot in the Southeastern Conference Western Division, No. 13 LSU is looking for a boost in confidence.

Akron, which has already been routed by Nebraska (54-14) and Miami of Ohio (49-20), and lost a tight 31-28 game to Bowling Green, should help get the Tigers back in the win column.

``Now we have to bounce back against one of the best football teams in the country,″ Akron coach Lee Owens said.

LSU is a six-touchdown favorite, but won’t rely on anything except its own game plan.

``We don’t overlook anyone,″ LSU defensive lineman Kenny Mixon said. ``However they look on paper, we’re going to play them just like we play an SEC team.″

The last time LSU lost to a non-conference opponent was against Texas A&M in 1995 _ coach Gerry DiNardo’s first game as LSU’s coach. The Tigers have built an eight-game winning streak against non-SEC teams since.

Akron’s offense is a little different from what LSU is used to, DiNardo said. The Zips employ a two-back offense and sometimes run the option.

``They do a good job in their attack, and it’s a little different attack than you and I are used to seeing,″ DiNardo said.

Defensively, Akron plays more zone than the Tigers normally see and have a good kicking game.

The Zips have rushed for 387 yards, led by Greg Lomax with 121 yards and two touchdowns, and Mike Lagasse with 104 yards and two touchdowns. But opponents have gained 916 yards rushing against them and LSU has the top rushing offense in the SEC.

``This isn’t a chance for us to let down any,″ said running back Cecil Collins, who’s rushed for 404 yards and two touchdowns in two games, including 232 against Auburn. ``You let down against a little team like Akron and you end up with another loss.″

LSU is no longer worried about starting slowly against Akron after the 31-28 loss to Auburn.

``We know we have to prepare for them. We want to start another winning streak,″ running back Rondell Mealey said.

Punter Chad Kessler said that even though it is a non-conference game and will not have the intensity that an SEC game would, there will be no letdown.

``We’ve got to get back on track,″ Kessler said. ``I don’t care who we’re playing. We have to come out and jump them early.″

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