LSU football and its undefeated season could be in jeopardy as star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, along with defensive back Tharold Simon and running back Spencer Ware have been suspended for this Saturday's home game against the No. 20 Auburn Tigers.
The LSU student newspaper, The Daily Reveille, first reported Wednesday that, according to a source, Mathieu and Ware both failed drug tests. Simon wasn't mentioned, but a failed drug test could also be the reason for his suspension.
LSU spokesman Michael Bonnette declined to confirm any punishment for the three players, saying only that they're involved in an internal matter that coach Les Miles will handle accordingly.
According to LSU's drug policy for athletes, a player is not suspended until he has a second positive test result. A player can be suspended for up to 20 percent of the season or up to 30 days for a second violation of the drug policy. Therefore, it is possible that the suspensions, at least on the part of Mathieu and Ware, could be for more than one game.
Mathieu has been one of the stars of the first half of the college football season and one of the top defensive players. If he is lost for a number of games, No.1 LSU will decline in defensive energy and production. He has forced four fumbles, recovering three and returning two for scores. He also has two interceptions and 42 tackles including 1 1/2 sacks.
Mathieu has made so many big plays in nationally televised games, a grass-roots Heisman Trophy campaign sprouted for the hard-hitting 5-foot-9 defensive back nicknamed Honey Badger. He could be the first defensive player to win the trophy since Charles Woodson won in 1997.
Ware is the leading rusher for the unbeaten Tigers with 512 yards and six touchdowns on 128 carries. He has also caught seven passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.
With Ware unavailable, either Michael Ford or Alfred Blue would start at tailback. Ford has 67 attempts for 359 yards and six touchdowns, while Blue has 52 attempts for 235 yards and four touchdowns. The only other tailback on the roster is Terrence Magee, who has 15 carries for 47 yards and one touchdown.
Simon has one interception and 29 tackles.
The Tigers have a week off after Saturday, and play No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 5 in what could be the biggest game of the regular season following Auburn.
LSU has already managed to stay unbeaten while dealing with an early season suspension of quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who missed the first four games of the season, including matchups against Oregon and West Virginia, after he was involved in a bar fight.
Jefferson, who was slated to start, was reinstated on Sept. 28 after a grand jury reduced his felony second-degree battery charge to a misdemeanor. He and Jarrett Lee have been sharing the quarterback job since he has returned.