Even if No. 5 LSU isn't technically hosting a nationally ranked opponent this weekend, Coach Les Miles asserted that the Tigers have approached it that way. Miles said this week that he counts Western Kentucky (6-1), which has piled up 535.4 yards of offense and 44 points per game this season, among the best 25 teams in the nation. For now, the Hilltoppers are receiving votes in the Associated Press' top-25 poll, but haven't quite cracked the rankings. That would change with a victory over unbeaten LSU (6-0) at Tiger Stadium on Saturday night.
"I just want you to know that this team coming in fits every bit as well in Tiger Stadium as other teams that we've hosted this year," Miles said, essentially placing the Hilltoppers in the same class as Auburn, South Carolina and No. 13 Florida. "This will be a very good opponent. We'll have to play well to do the things that we want to do. And nationally ranked this team will be."
Upsetting LSU in Death Valley would be a program-defining triumph for WKU, now in only its seventh season at the NCAA's top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision.
"It's just a great opportunity for our guys to go out and have fun this week, cut it loose come game day and just really see how we measure up," said WKU Coach Jeff Brohm, a former quarterback at Louisville and in the NFL.
■ Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino knows his team will need to play a complete game to be successful against a Boston College squad that doesn't give much ground. The Cardinals led twice at No. 9 Florida State last weekend and were driving toward another touchdown before turnovers and breakdowns shifted momentum in their 41-21 loss. Louisville can't afford those mistakes against the Eagles, who enter Saturday's game leading the nation in several defensive categories including yardage allowed (196.3 per game).
"They play physical and fast, (and) do a great job of tackling," Petrino said. "That's certainly a challenge for us."
BasketballAaron Harrison makes it through Hornets' roster cuts
Barring some additional roster move, it appears undrafted rookie Aaron Harrison will make the Charlotte Hornets' opening-day roster. The Hornets cut several players Friday whose contracts were not fully guaranteed for the 2015-16 season: Damien Wilkins, Elliot Williams, Sam Thompson and Jason Washburn were all waived after the Hornets completed their preseason schedule with a 7-1 record.
Hornets Coach Steve Clifford had identified Harrison, Wilkins and Williams as candidates for the 15th and final roster spot.
After going unselected in June's draft, Harrison drew the Hornets' attention in Orlando summer league. A 6-foot-6 guard, Harrison played mostly off the ball in his two seasons at Kentucky, but the Hornets used him as a point guard in Orlando. He showed a knack for getting to the rim off the dribble and has the length to be a solid defender.
Harrison wasn't a particularly good shooter at Kentucky, making just 41 percent of his shots from the field. He worked extensively with Hornets shooting coach Bruce Kruetzer over the summer to improve his three-point range.
Harrison played in six of the exhibitions, averaging 3.5 points and 0.8 assists.
Popovich to lead U.S. team after Krzyzewski
Gregg Popovich, who has led the San Antonio Spurs to five NBA titles, will replace Mike Krzyzewski as the U.S. basketball coach following the 2016 Olympics.
Popovich will take over starting with 2017 training camp and lead the Americans into the 2019 Basketball World Cup and 2020 Olympics if they qualify, USA Basketball said Friday.
Regarded as one of the best coaches in the game, Popovich was the choice when USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo decided to return to an NBA coach. Krzyzewski has led the Americans since 2005.
The Duke coach has guided the Americans to consecutive Olympic gold medals, two world titles and a 75-1 record. He will stay on as a special adviser to Colangelo.
GolfStegmaier atop leaderboard in Las Vegas
Brett Stegmaier topped the leaderboard Friday in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in only his fifth career start on the PGA Tour. The 32-year-old former University of Florida player was 6 under for the round and 11 under overall with three holes left when second-round play was suspended because of darkness in Las Vegas.
Stegmaier eagled the par-5 16th on his opening nine and had four birdies on the 15 holes he was able to finish at TPC Summerlin. He earned a tour card in the Web.com Tour Finals series.
Former UNLV player Chad Campbell was a stroke back along with Morgan Hoffmann and Tyler Aldridge.
When play was suspended, former Lexington Christian and Vanderbilt star Hunter Stewart was right on the cut line at 2-under par through 15 holes. Stewart had three birdies and no bogeys so far in his second round.
Morehead drag racer to enter Hall of Fame
Morehead's Jim Ruth, a former Pro Stock drag racer who later owned and operated the Bristol International Dragway in Tennessee, will be among seven people inducted into the Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame Saturday at 4 p.m. ET at Owensboro's Speedzeum. Ruth, who also owned the International Hot Rod Association, will be posthumously honored. He died in 1990.
■ Kentucky's volleyball team, ranked 21st nationally, swept Alabama on the road (25-15, 25-22, 25-18) on Friday. The Cats had 12 blocks in three sets, its second-best performance in a three-set match this season. UK improved to 14-6 overall and leads the Southeastern Conference with a 7-1 mark in league play.
■ Jimmy Roberts, a five-time Stanley Cup champion with the Montreal Canadiens and an original member of the St. Louis Blues, died Friday. He was 75. The Blues confirmed Roberts died after battling cancer. Roberts was scheduled to drop the ceremonial puck Saturday night before the Blues' Hockey Fights Cancer Night game against the New York Islanders. Playing both defense and forward, Roberts had 126 goals and 194 assists in 1,006 regular-season games with Montreal and St. Louis. He had 20 goals and 16 assists in 153 playoff games, helping the Canadiens win titles in 1965, 1966, 1973, 1976, 1977.
■ Tennessee Titans rookie Marcus Mariota will not play Sunday against Atlanta as he recovers from a sprained MCL in his left knee. Zach Mettenberger will start at quarterback. Formre University of Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson (hamstring) practiced fully and is probable after missing last week's game for the Titans.
The last word
Thursday night NFL games can be a medical nightmare for teams. It's tough enough getting players ready for Sunday coming off a Monday night game — or even off the previous Sunday. Former NFL quarterback Jim Miller, who co-hosts a show on SiriusXM, said:
"I think for the safety aspect of it, the NFL can say, yeah, we are worried about safety, safety, safety. ... We know that because half the guys can't even line up and play. If they sprain an ankle, they could play probably on a following Sunday, but not on a Thursday night game. If you are in the concussion protocol on a Sunday, I don't know if you will get cleared for a Thursday night game. I don't think that is even possible."