NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Georgia vs Louisiana State

LSU star cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. will miss the Tigers' season opener against Mississippi State on Saturday because of illness, LSU announced. Stingley was a consensus All-American as a freshman last season and expected to be an anchor for a defense losing nearly all of its starters from last year's national championship team.

"Derek Stingley Jr. became acutely ill last night and was evaluated overnight in the hospital," LSU's statement said. "His condition is not COVID-19 related and he is expected to be discharged soon. He will return to activity after full evaluation by the medical team."

The Tigers' secondary figures to be tested Saturday against a Mississippi State team that is implementing an air-raid system under first-year coach Mike Leach. Sophomore Jay Ward is listed behind Stingley at cornerback on LSU's depth chart while sophomore Cordale Flott is listed as the starter at the other cornerback position.

LSU does have a couple of veterans at safety in senior JaCoby Stevens and sophomore Todd Harris Jr. But Stingley's presence will be missed. He led the SEC with six interceptions and 21 passes defended last season. Without Stingley, LSU will have just four total returning starters on offense and defense Saturday as they seek to defend their national title.

The LSU-Mississippi State game is the SEC on CBS Game of the Week and kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Tigers are a 16.5-point favorite, but Stingley's absence could have a late impact on the point spread.