ATLANTA (AP) - Les Miles and LSU can now focus on their future together, starting with a trip to the Superdome. Assured by Miles he would stay as their coach, the fifth-ranked Tigers shifted their full attention to No. 14 Tennessee. The result was a 21-14 victory Saturday in the Southeastern Conference championship game - and still a slight chance to play for the national title. Jonathan Zenon scored on an 18-yard interception return with 9:54 left to put LSU (11-2) ahead, then Darry Beckwith picked off another pass deep in Tigers territory to seal it. The win sent LSU home with a spot in the Sugar Bowl at worst.
At best, they hoped for losses by No. 1 Missouri and No. 2 West Virginia later in the day, plus help in the BCS rankings this weekend to play in college football's championship game, also to be held in New Orleans at the Superdome. With speculation swirling that he would soon leave for Michigan, Miles did everything he could to put aside the distractions. He met with his players earlier in the day and told them he wasn't going anywhere.
After winning their first SEC title since 2003, the Tigers hoped to head for bigger and better things. Miles hugged senior Jacob Hester as the postgame celebration began at midfield. "I'm just really happy for our seniors, our leadership," Miles said. "We had to put it together and we did that." Tennessee (9-4) had its five-game stopped. The Volunteers might wind up in the Outback Bowl. The Vols sported all-orange uniforms for the first time since 1999 and led 7-6 at halftime. The game shaded toward the Tigers' side in the second half, with backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux starring in place of injured Matt Flynn.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)