LSU faces Louisiana Tech for Homecoming

Updated: October 31, 2003, 8:42 AM ET

BATON ROUGE, La. -- It's not the opponent LSU coach Nick Saban would have chosen for the first Saturday in November.

When the Tigers square off against Louisiana Tech Saban knows there is much more than a homecoming victory on the line.

"I know some people, not defining who some people are, will try to create this as not a very important game," Saban said. "To our team, this is a very important game. Certainly, some people can rain on your homecoming, but some people can rain on your season. Obviously, this would be raining on the season if we don't get ready to play a good football game this week."

Stepping out of the Southeastern Conference and going against a 4-4 team are all reasons Saban's players might not be as sharp for the game. That's why the coach was busy this week pointing out other things, not the least of which is LSU's national ranking, chance to win the SEC West and standing in the BCS.

Louisiana Tech, which knocked off No. 10 Michigan State earlier this season, will be dangerous, Saban said.

"Louisiana Tech is a team that has made a living over beating major Division I schools," Saban said. "They had wins over Alabama and Oklahoma State a year ago. Michigan State's only loss this year was to them."

He can add more to the warning by pointing out the Bulldogs' high-powered offense, or he might just concentrate on Tech's motivation for the game.

Many of these players grew up together, played with or against each other for years. There are LSU players who were recruited by Louisiana Tech and Tech players who resent not being recruited by LSU.

There also are families and friends watching.

"I have kind of looked forward to this game," said LSU safety Jack Hunt, who grew up just down the road from Louisiana Tech. "I can't say I haven't. I hear about it every time I go home. People are always asking about it."

Knowing each other the way many of the players do will give them some extra motivation when they need it, said LSU defensive tackle Kyle Williams.

"I think it gives you that little extra edge you need," Williams said. "You get tired and you say, 'There's no way I can let myself lose to my friends. I can't do it."

Since Jack Bicknell became coach of the Bulldogs prior to the 1999 season, Louisiana Tech has played road games against Alabama, Florida State, Texas A&M, Miami, Auburn twice, Clemson, Penn State twice and Michigan State before some of the largest crowds in the program's history.

"It will be a great atmosphere," said Tech quarterback Luke McCown. "It will be a like a bowl atmosphere. Our main focus is to play the game. If we go out and play hard on all cylinders for four quarters in every aspect of the game, then that's all we can do."

Bicknell said playing LSU in Baton Rouge will be a challenge, but it won't be frightening.

"We won't be intimidated although we understand the challenge, and it is a huge challenge," Bicknell said. "When you have played the people we have played over the last four or five years at the places we have played them, you've seen just about everything. We have played some big time teams and LSU is another one to add to the list."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index