LSU, Penn State and the 2020 stumbles of college football’s power programs come to light in Week 14

It has been just 11 months since LSU topped Clemson 42-25 in the College Football Playoff National Championship, completing what might have been the best season by a team in the sport’s history. And it already feels ancient.

On Saturday, LSU will stumble toward its 2020 finish line with a makeup date against Alabama that perfectly encapsulates all that has gone wrong for the Tigers in the past 11 months.

This week, head coach Ed Orgeron lamented the latest opt-out of a star player, as WR Terrace Marshall ended his time with the program. Orgeron spoke glowingly of his former players, the stars of 2019, now off to spectacular starts in the NFL. He did his best to add some optimism to a lost season, promising the 3-4 Tigers would “be champions again” at some point.

But when Orgeron was asked whether his team was better equipped today to face Alabama than it would have been three weeks ago, when the game was originally scheduled to be played, his answer felt pretty telling of all that 2020 has wrought for the defending champs.

“Yes,” Orgeron said, “because now we have enough players to play the game.”

After winning the CFP championship last season, 2020 has been much harder on Ed Orgeron and 3-4 LSU. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

LSU is among the most prominent examples of 2020’s misfortunes.

But Orgeron’s misery is nothing compared to what has happened at Penn State. The Nittany Lions won their first game of the season last week, but that’s hardly enough to forget how inept they looked during an unprecedented 0-5 start. Now, Penn State travels to Rutgers this weekend with more potential embarrassment waiting around every corner.

The team Penn State beat last weekend might be in a worse position. Michigan just canceled its game with Maryland this weekend, COVID-19’s intrusion into the Wolverines’ locker room the latest problem for embattled coach Jim Harbaugh.

Look around the standings and it’s not hard to find programs that ended 2019 on a high note — Louisville, Baylor, Utah, Tennessee — that might now be wondering if playing this season was worth all the trouble. And that doesn’t even touch on Nebraska. No team has ever pushed harder or argued louder for the right to go 1-4.

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Orgeron, for one, refused to blame COVID-19 for the setbacks, but it is fair to wonder whether LSU-Alabama or Tennessee-Florida or Virginia Tech-Clemson might be a whole lot more interesting if everything off the field in 2020 had been — well, a whole lot less interesting.

“Nobody wants to go through a season like this, but I do believe we’re building character and grit that will help us later on,” Orgeron said. “You always have to represent LSU with pride, and the standard is very high. We haven’t met that. I’m not going

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College football picks, odds for SEC in Week 14: Alabama romps past LSU, Florida smashes Tennessee

This is usually the week we’re all sitting back and preparing for one of the greatest spectacles in college football: the SEC Championship Game. COVID-19 has changed all of our lives, and in this case, that means we have to wait a few weeks before the winners of the East and West divisions tee it up in Atlanta. There’s still plenty of intrigue swirling around the SEC, though.

Top-ranked Alabama will head to Baton Rouge to take on an LSU team that’s a shell of its former self. Quarterback Mac Jones, wide receiver DeVonta Smith and running back Najee Harris all have Heisman Trophy hopes, and big performances on Saturday night could go a long way toward fulfilling those dreams. 

It isn’t the only rivalry in the conference, though, as No. 6 Florida will travel to Knoxville to take on a down-trodden Tennessee team that desperately needs some good news.

This week’s SEC Smothered and Covered takes a look around the conference and makes picks against the spread. 

Appetizer: Alabama back to the norm

I’m old enough to remember when we were all concerned about Alabama’s defense being a liability, not a strength. It was way back in October after it got torched to the tune of 7.52 yards per play and 647 total yards by Lane Kiffin and the high-octane Ole Miss Rebels. That was one week after Texas A&M rattled off 5.84 yards per play. 

Things have changed. 

The Crimson Tide gave up just 3.84 yards per play in November, one of only three SEC teams to give up less than 4 yards per play. They also led the conference in opponent red zone touchdown percentage in November at 33.3%. In addition, Alabama gave up just 20 plays of 10 or more yards in November — second fewest in the SEC.

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Alabama is the most complete team in college football again, and it isn’t even close. 

Main course: What to make of Texas A&M

Aggie fans get really mad when their team appears behind Florida in any kind of ranking since they beat the Gators earlier in the season. I get it. Heads-up results matter … but so does trajectory. 

Texas A&M has been buoyed by an incredible defense and stout running game with Isaiah Spiller to put it in contention for the College Football Playoff.

The problem is quarterback Kellen Mond. It’s hard to look beyond that 11-for-34 performance against a woefully bad LSU pass defense since we’ve seen inconsistency from Mond in the past. No, the committee shouldn’t factor in performances from previous seasons. Maybe those individuals won’t. But that’s a separate discussion than the one normal folks like us are having, and isn’t really relevant regarding the mid-season CFP Rankings. After all, those exist for programming the sport down the stretch. They’re not set in stone. 

Everybody who follows the sport knows that Texas A&M beat Florida. Sure, the Gators defense was beat up a bit,

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College football odds, lines, schedule for Week 14: No. 1 Alabama opens as four-touchdown favorite over LSU

The first weekend in December is usually reserved for conference championship games, but not this year. Instead, 2020 has delivered us a few extra weeks of regular-season play before conference champions are crowned the weekend before Christmas. 

No. 5 Texas A&M will look to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive when it travels to Jordan-Hare Stadium to take on Auburn, LSU will host No. 1 Alabama in what is typically one of nation’s biggest games of the year and No. 3 Clemson will travel into Lane Stadium to take on a Virginia Tech team that is in desperation mode.

Lines for most of the Week 14 games have been released by William Hill Sportsbook. Let’s break down the the biggest games and examine what oddsmakers are thinking early in the week.

No. 1 Alabama (-28) at LSU: My, how things have changed. It was fair to expect a big line in this one after the Tigers fell on hard times early this season. Four touchdowns? At home? Yeah, that’s deserved. Teams have to get in shootouts in order to have a chance with Alabama, and there’s no chance that LSU’s offense is capable of doing that. 

No. 3 Clemson (-21.5) at Virginia Tech: Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence came back with a vengeance, and the defense showed out last weekend against Pittsburgh. The Hokies, however, are getting no respect at all from oddsmakers after losing three straight games to Liberty, Miami and Pitt. 

No. 5 Texas A&M (-4) at No. 22 Auburn: The Aggies didn’t look very sharp on offense last week. More specifically, quarterback Kellen Mond struggled mightily in less-than-ideal conditions with heavy rain. The defense, however, absolutely dominated up front. That bodes well against an Auburn offensive line that hasn’t give quarterback Bo Nix much help this year. 

No.  6 Florida (-16.5) at Tennessee: The first game of the SEC on CBS doubleheader features traditional rivals that are going in different directions. The Gators are on a fast track toward the SEC Championship Game with Heisman Trophy contender Kyle Trask at quarterback. Meanwhile, the Volunteers have lost five straight after a hot start.

West Virginia at No. 13 Iowa State (-7): The Cyclones are coming off of a big win at Texas, and oddsmakers clearly think that they’ll continue that hot streak against a Mountaineers team that had their game vs. Oklahoma last week canceled due to COVID-19 protocols.

Best of the rest

Syracuse at No. 3 Notre Dame (-33)
Vanderbilt at No. 9 Georgia (-33)
No. 15 Oregon (-9.5) at California

Liberty at No. 20 Coastal Carolina (-5.5)
Rice at No. 21 Marshall (-23.5)
No. 23 Oklahoma State (-1.5) at TCU
No. 24 Iowa (-12) at Illinois
No. 25 Tulsa (-10) at Navy

Stanford at Washington (-10)

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LSU Standout Players: Cordale Flott, Micah Baskerville Turn in Career Outings Against Texas A&M

As the LSU defense kept turning away the Texas A&M offense that entered Saturday’s game as one of the more efficient offenses in the country, the Tigers had many players flash brilliance. That’s what happens when you clamp down on a team for just 13 points and 267 yards of total offense. 

A number of the LSU players turned in stellar performances against the Aggies but these three stick out above the rest. 

Cordale Flott (CB)

The sophomore cornerback quite simply had his best game as a Tiger against the Aggies, recording eight tackles, one tackle for a loss and a pair of pass breakups. He just jumped off the screen all night, not allowing hardly any completions throughout the course of the game and was a big reason behind holding Kellen Mond to 105 yards passing on 32% completion percentage. 

Flott, along with Derek Stingley Jr., picked up the slack in the secondary with freshman Elias Ricks limited throughout the night with an injury. It was the unit that coach Ed Orgeron called the most improved group on the field which was nice to see after six games riddled with inconsistency and explosive plays.

The longest passing play the secondary surrendered was 18 yards on Saturday and that was due to improved communication and man-to-man coverage.

“We’re gonna keep fighting every week to get better,” Baskerville said after the game. “The preparations throughout the week with communication really helped.”

Micah Baskerville (LB)

It seems with every passing week Baskerville gets more and more comfortable with his role in the starting rotation. Against Texas A&M, Baskerville turned in his most complete performance to date, recording 12 tackles, one tackle for a loss and one forced fumble in the first half on fourth-and-goal. 

That play was a turning point in the first half as the Aggies were threatening to go up 17-0 at that time but LSU was able to adjust course and flip the momentum, even though it was short lived. 

“We worked on that play all week because they were like 100% on it and we had a plan going in on not letting them get that on us,” Baskerville said. “That was a big energy boost for the team.”

The linebacker play out of Baskerville and Jabril Cox was one of the more impressive of the game as, with the exception of two runs, the LSU defense was able to hold Isaiah Spiller in check. Not only was the run defense much improved but Baskerville and Cox did a nice job in coverage with Spiller and some of the tight ends on passing plays as well. 

Though the team sits at 3-4 and is in danger of letting this season slip completely out of control, Baskerville says the main goal moving forward is to just keep working to get better.

“We’re staying together, just positive thoughts and getting better and we’re just a couple of plays away from winning the game,” Baskerville said. “We’re gonna keep pushing to

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It was far from pretty, but Texas A&M’s win over LSU was solid for a team aiming for the College Football Playoff

COLLEGE STATION — Blame the rust from a 21-day hiatus forced by COVID-19 precautions and factor in the chilly, steady rain at Kyle Field.

Whatever the culprit, No. 5 Texas A&M didn’t exactly look its best in a 20-7 win Saturday over LSU. It was still good for a solid, if not artistic, victory.

“We’re hungry, and we’re not done yet,” senior linebacker Buddy Johnson said on the A&M postgame radio broadcast.

The Aggies hope that the College Football Playoff selection committee values body of work and a dominant defense and not offensive style points when it is deliberating its second ratings Monday and Tuesday in Grapevine.

Coach Jimbo Fisher had a more narrow focus after the game and refused to use the weather as an excuse.

“I’m not worried about the playoff,” Fisher said when asked about style points. “I’m worried about playing good football and everything will take care of itself.”

The Aggies got 141 yards rushing on 27 carries from Isaiah Spiller and a big-time performance by the SEC’s top-rated defense to secure their fifth straight win and improve to 6-1 for the first time since 2016. Unlike that season, this year’s start has come against an all-SEC schedule.

“Proud of the team for finding a way to win in an old-school-style slugfest,” Fisher said. “Don’t see many of those anymore. … There’s an art to that.”

It was just the second win in nine meetings against LSU — both under Fisher — since the Aggies entered the SEC, joining the epic seven-overtime victory in 2018.

A&M finally broke open the game late in the third quarter. Under pressure by Aaron Hansford, LSU freshman quarterback TJ Finley forced a pass that Johnson intercepted and returned 15 yards for a touchdown and a 20-0 lead.

“Our defense did a great job of putting pressure on him and forcing him to make decisions,” said Johnson, who finished with a team-high nine tackles.

The Aggies limited LSU to 267 total yards and just 2-of-16 on third down. Defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal was dominant early and finished with seven tackles.

“He’s a talented, talented young football player,” Fisher said.

The unit went nearly eight quarters without allowing a touchdown, going back to the fourth quarter against Mississippi State.

Spiller, who had just 6 yards on six carries, broke a 52-yard touchdown run with 16 seconds remaining in the first quarter for a 10-0 lead. The sophomore recorded his fifth 100-yard rushing game this season and ninth of his career.

“It just shows you how mature and that we know how to win, even in situations when we weren’t playing well,” Spiller said. “Today wasn’t our best day, but we know how to get the job done. That’s just leadership on the team.”

A&M had a 13-0 lead at halftime after a two-hour first half.

It wasn’t all pretty — far from it, with A&M playing its first game since a 48-3 win at South Carolina on Nov. 7. Three positive COVID-19

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College football scores, NCAA top 25 rankings, Week 13: Clemson dominates, Texas A&M stifles LSU

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence returned to the field with purpose on Saturday as he played for the first time since Oct. 24 and racked up 403 yards passing in the No. 3 Tigers’ 52-17 win over Pittsburgh. Lawrence missed two games after testing positive for COVID-19 and had his would-be return game against Florida State canceled last week.

Ultimately, Lawrence helped remind everyone of why Clemson is still in the College Football Playoff picture despite its loss to Notre Dame as the Tigers racked up nearly 600 yards of total offense and improved to 8-1, even after taking their foot off the pedal late in the game.

Things did not go as well for another set of Tigers on Saturday night. A year after walloping Texas A&M 50-7 on their way to a 15-0 season, LSU lost 20-7 to this No. 5-ranked Texas A&M team as the Aggies improved to 6-1 and kept their College Football Playoff hopes alive. Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond completed just 11 of 34 passes for 105 yards, but sophomore running back Isaiah Spiller surpassed 100 yards rushing for the fifth time this season to pace a dominant Aggies’ rushing attack.

College football scores — Week 13

No. 23 Oklahoma State 50, Texas Tech 44 — Box score
Penn State 27, Michigan 17 — Box score
No. 6 Florida 34, Kentucky 10 — Box score
Michigan State 29, No. 8 Northwestern 20 — Recap
No. 3 Clemson 52, Pitt 17 — Box score
No. 1 Alabama 42, No. 22 Auburn 13 — Recap, takeaways
Ole Miss 31, Mississippi State 24 — Box score
No. 5 Texas A&M 20, LSU 7 — Box score
No. 9 Georgia 45, South Carolina 16 — Box score
Check out the complete Week 13 scoreboard

Check these out …

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College football scores, NCAA top 25 rankings, schedule, games today: Texas A&M vs. LSU, Georgia in action

After two straight weeks off, Clemson is returning to the field Saturday with something to prove. The Tigers sit at No. 3 in the College Football Playoff Rankings and can ill-afford a lackluster performance against Pittsburgh with No. 5 Texas A&M and No. 6 Florida also in action Saturday as the race for CFP positioning heats up.

The 7-1 Tigers might have their hands full with a Panthers team that improved to 5-4 with a 47-14 thrashing of Virginia Tech last week. If Clemson slips up, the Aggies or Gators could be ready to slide into the playoff picture. Texas A&M is seeking revenge for last year’s 50-7 loss to LSU, while No. 6 Florida will be looking to to keep its offense rolling against a Kentucky team that gave up 63 points to Alabama last week. Meanwhile, No. 7 Cincinnati should have no trouble against Temple but will be looking to make an impression on the CFP committee with its play on the field.

CBS Sports will be here every step of the way to update you with the latest scores, highlights and storylines throughout the day. All times Eastern

College football scores, schedule — Week 13

No. 23 Oklahoma State 50, Texas Tech 44 — Box score
Penn State 27, Michigan 17 — Box score
No. 6 Florida 34, Kentucky 10 — Box score
Michigan State 29, No. 8 Northwestern 20 — Recap
No. 3 Clemson 52, Pitt 17 — Box score
No. 1 Alabama 42, No. 22 Auburn 13 — Recap, takeaways
Ole Miss 31, Mississippi State 24 — Box score
LSU at No. 5 Texas A&M — 7 p.m. on ESPN — GameTracker
No. 9 Georgia at South Carolina — 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network — GameTracker
Check out the complete Week 13 scoreboard

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LSU vs. Texas A&M odds, line: 2020 college football picks, Week 13 predictions from proven computer model

The LSU Tigers and the Texas A&M Aggies will face off in a SEC clash at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday at Kyle Field. Texas A&M is 5-1 overall and 3-0 at home, while the Tigers are 3-3 overall and 2-2 on the road. LSU has won six of its last eight games on the road, while A&M 5-0 in its last five home games. 

The Aggies are favored by 15-points in the latest Texas A&M vs. LSU odds from William Hill Sportsbook, and the over-under is set at 63.5. Before entering any LSU vs. Texas A&M picks, you’ll want to see the college football predictions from the advanced computer model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times. Over the past four-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated a stunning profit of over $3,600 for $100 players on its top-rated college football picks against the spread. It is also a sizzling 44-23 on all top-rated picks through 12 weeks of the 2020 college football schedule, returning over $1,200 in profit already. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Texas A&M vs. LSU. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several college football odds for Texas A&M vs. LSU:

  • Texas A&M vs. LSU spread: Texas A&M -15
  • Texas A&M vs. LSU over-under: 63.5 points
  • Texas A&M vs. LSU money line: Texas A&M -600, LSU +425

What you need to know about Texas A&M

When you finish with 380 more yards than your opponent like A&M did in its last outing, a favorable outcome is almost sure to follow. The Aggies took their game on the road with ease, bagging a 48-3 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks on Nov. 7. That 45-point margin sets a new team best for A&M on the season. 

Quarterback Kellen Mond had a stellar game for A&M as he passed for four TDs and 224 yards on 26 attempts in addition to rushing for one TD and 34 yards. Mond’s 52-yard touchdown toss to RB Devon Achane in the third quarter made for one of the most memorable moments of the night. 

The Aggies enter Saturday’s showdown against the defending national champions averaging 443.7 yards per game on offense this season. On the defensive side of the ball, Texas A&M is giving up 25 points per game. 

What you need to know about LSU

Meanwhile, it was a close one, but last Saturday LSU sidestepped the Arkansas Razorbacks for a 27-24 win. The Tigers can attribute much of their success to QB TJ Finley, who passed for two TDs and 271 yards on 42 attempts, and RB Tyrion Davis-Price, who rushed for one TD and 104 yards on 24 carries.

The Tigers have also dominated this rivalry over the years. In fact, LSU is 8-2 in its last 10 meetings against Texas A&M. In addition, the Tigers have covered the spread in each of

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Ed Orgeron, LSU Players Aim to Put Past Behind Them In Return to College Station

It’s been two years since that seven overtime albatross of a Saturday night at Kyle Field yet coach Ed Orgeron still remembers it like it was yesterday. It was a game that LSU felt it had won on three, even four different occasions but when the final play was over, it was the Aggies who had squeaked out a 74-72 win.

Now, LSU returns to the scene of the crime and Orgeron stressed on Monday that putting that game and all the emotions that came with it behind them, is the most critical thing to do. 

“I thought about it this morning, to be honest with you, when I saw the film and I saw the stadium, some thoughts came by,” Orgeron said. “But you know what, it’s my job to be able to prevent problems this week, have a great practice and not allow those things to happen that happened to us last time. And we’re going to have to go and play our best game.”

Orgeron and the Tigers experienced every possible emotion from joy to anger to fatigue and ultimately, dejection. LSU thought it had the game won in regulation when Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond threw an interception to Grant Delpit with seconds remaining, only to be called back because Mond’s leg had been down before he threw the pass.

That was just the beginning of an exhausting back and forth game that after seven overtimes, concluded with a postgame fist fight and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow passing out from exhaustion and dehydration that required an IV in the postgame locker room.

“It’s going to be on,” Orgeron said a year later. “I’ll never forget that game last year. We’re going to be ready. There was nothing we could do about the end of that game, we felt helpless.”

Wide receiver Jaray Jenkins remembers what that evening was like, even though he was watching from the sidelines the entire time. He was a redshirt freshman in 2018 and was not playing much but remembers that expression of exhaustion that he could sense on all of the players and coaches after the game. 

But this week, the 2018 game was something that he said Orgeron hasn’t brought up too much. Because Orgeron knows how important it is to not hark on the past experience and focus on this week.

“He just said that we know what this game is gonna take,” Jenkins said. “It was a long game, seven overtimes, but we’re not trying to get it there [this time]. We’re trying to get out, get the victory and head back.”

Center Liam Shanahan wasn’t a part of the team two years ago but has been fully briefed on the LSU-Texas A&M rivalry and how much the two sides don’t like each other. The longest game Shanahan has ever played were a few overtime games while at Harvard so he can’t really fathom what it must be like to play in a seven overtime thriller. 

“It’s a

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Hundreds of LSU students protest the university’s mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints

Trigger Warning: This article contains information and details about alleged sexual assault and/or violence, which may be upsetting to some readers.



a group of people walking down the street in front of a crowd: Protesters gather and march on LSU campus in reaction to the way officials mishandled rape, abuse allegations against numerous football players. November 20, 2020.


© SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network
Protesters gather and march on LSU campus in reaction to the way officials mishandled rape, abuse allegations against numerous football players. November 20, 2020.

Hundreds of teal-clad students, faculty, alumni and advocates carrying signs and chanting slogans marched through the Louisiana State University campus on Friday in reaction to LSU’s systemic mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints against top athletes and others, as revealed by a USA TODAY investigation published earlier this week.

Starting at the school’s Parade Ground and ending in the plaza in front of Tiger Stadium, the group of men and women held signs reading, “No means no,” and “Survivors deserve better,” as they shouted, “Keep your hands off of me.” 

They demanded change from an LSU leadership they see as slow to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct and dating violence. 

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“We don’t want another bogus press conference. We want answers,” said Angel Upshaw, co-president of the student group Tigers Against Sexual Assault, at the start of the march. Upshaw was among 26 student leaders who signed an open letter earlier in the week supporting resignation for LSU officials who mishandled complaints.

The USA TODAY investigation found that officials in the university’s athletic department and broader administration repeatedly have ignored complaints against abusers, denied victims’ requests for protection and subjected them to further harm by known perpetrators.



a person standing in front of a crowd: Rough 250 protesters marched at LSU demanding change in the way the university handles sexual misconduct and dating violence allegations.


© SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network
Rough 250 protesters marched at LSU demanding change in the way the university handles sexual misconduct and dating violence allegations.

At least nine football players have been reported to police for accusations of sexual misconduct and dating violence since coach Ed Orgeron took over the team four years ago, records show. The university is known to have disciplined only two of them, and one – former wide receiver Drake Davis – was not expelled until four months after he was convicted of physically abusing his former girlfriend.



a group of people holding a sign: Protesters gather and march on LSU campus in reaction to the way officials mishandled rape, abuse allegations against numerous football players. November 20, 2020.


© SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network
Protesters gather and march on LSU campus in reaction to the way officials mishandled rape, abuse allegations against numerous football players. November 20, 2020.

The university in response hired an outside law firm to conduct a review of its Title IX policies and handling of specific cases. Title IX is the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education.

About a dozen survivors and friends of survivors spoke at the protest, with some sharing their own stories and others expressing support and calling for accountability for the LSU officials who mishandled allegations. Samantha Brennan and Elisabeth Andries, whose stories were featured in USA TODAY’s investigation, both spoke and received loud applause.

Much of the anger was directed at the athletic department and football team. Women on campus should “matter as much as someone who wears a jersey on their back,” said LSU

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