- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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No. 13 LSU (6-2) will attempt to use today's game against FCS opponent Furman (3-4) to get back on track entering its open date -- with a key showdown against No. 1 Alabama approaching on Nov. 9.
With an assist from ESPN's Stats and Information group, here are five things to watch in today's game:
Mettenberger's bounce-back: LSU's Zach Mettenberger has been arguably the most improved quarterback in college football this season, but he laid an egg with a career-high three interceptions in last Saturday's loss to Ole Miss. The good news for Tigers fans is that he has thrown interceptions in back-to-back games only once in his career (last season against Florida and South Carolina). LSU's opponent-adjusted Total Quarterback Rating is up 40.7 points this season, which is the biggest jump for any team in the country from its 2012 rating. Furman is allowing 184 passing yards per game, which ranks 30th in the FCS, and has been intercepted five passes.
Extending record run: LSU already owns the longest regular-season nonconference winning streak since the NCAA's Division I split into two divisions in 1978. A win against Furman would give the Tigers 45 consecutive nonconference wins during the regular season, six wins better than the next-closest streak (Kansas State had 39 between 1993-2003). LSU's last regular-season loss outside the SEC came against Virginia Tech in the 2002 opener.
Miles' resilience: As disappointing as last week's loss to Ole Miss was for the Tigers, there is one trend in the wake of that defeat that now favors LSU today. LSU has lost back-to-back games only once under Les Miles -- in 2008, when Ole Miss and Arkansas toppled the Tigers. Overall, LSU is 21-1 after a loss under Miles.
Quicker start: Today's homecoming game offers the opportunity for LSU to get off to a faster start on offense than it has in the past two games. In their 17-6 win against Florida's feisty defense two weeks ago, the Tigers were understandably less prolific than they had been earlier in the season. They failed to generate at least 400 yards of offense and failed to score in the first quarter for the first time this season. Then last week against Ole Miss, they didn't score at all in the first half -- Ole Miss led 10-0 at the break -- marking the first time in 21 games that LSU went scoreless in the opening half.
Bye-week bingo: This marks the ninth consecutive weekend that LSU is playing football, the longest such stretch for the Tigers since Miles' debut season, 2005, when LSU played 11 straight weeks because of schedule shuffling caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. No natural disasters played a part in this unique scheduling, with the two upcoming open dates actually coming at advantageous times for the Tigers. They will be off next week prior to playing at Alabama on Nov. 9 and then they will take a second weekend off before hosting Texas A&M on Nov. 23 in another key SEC West game.
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