LSU set to contend for SEC’s 6th BCS title in row

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ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - The point made by big LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery is really hard to dispute right now.

“I would like to speak on behalf of all SEC teams,” Montgomery said after the fourth-ranked Tigers’ 40-27 season-opening win over No. 3 Oregon. “I just think we run the NCAA. Period.”

While Boise State might debate that after winning its opener in SEC country, LSU certainly has already established itself as a contender this season. The SEC has already won five national championships in a row, including the Tigers’ last title in 2007.

Instead of being distracted by the absence of suspended quarterback Jordan Jefferson, the loaded Tigers’ defense stifled an Oregon team that has averaged more than 40 points and 471 yards a game since Chip Kelly arrived as offensive coordinator in 2007 and became head coach two years later.

“They’ve got a little bit different athlete running around out there right now,” Kelly said. “Looking at their D-line, standing next to them walking off the field, they don’t look like a lot of the guys we see.”

These Ducks still have running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Thomas on the offense that last season was the nation’s best and played in the BCS national title game. (They lost when Auburn of the SEC kicked a field goal on the last play).

But they didn’t have standout cornerback-punt returner Cliff Harris because of his suspension. His fill-ins had key mistakes that led to LSU touchdowns.

Harris was suspended indefinitely after police caught him driving 118 mph with a suspended license in June. Oregon needs him back fast, though it is still unclear when he might play again.

LSU can feel a bit more comfortable with Jefferson’s replacement.

While Jarrett Lee was far from spectacular (10-of-22 passing for 98 yards), he threw a touchdown, didn’t have a turnover _ he can’t be blamed for the ball snapped behind him _ and appeared steady throughout the game at Cowboys Stadium.

“I enjoyed Jarrett Lee’s gutty performance,” coach Les Miles said. “I told him (to) enjoy the position you’re in, it’s an earned one. He never once took the position that he was just a backup.”

It was the senior’s 10th career start, his first since a win over Louisiana Tech in 2009.

There will be more since Jefferson is still suspended indefinitely, as is reserve linebacker Josh Johns, because they are facing felony charges of second degree battery stemming from a bar fight near campus last month.

Cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and several other LSU defenders told Lee before the game they had his back. And they delivered.

“You don’t have to put all the pressure on you,” Mathieu said, relaying what they told the quarterback. “That is what we are here for, to take some pressure off of you.”

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