Glenn Guilbeau / USA Today
BATON ROUGE LSU senior Fehoko Fanaika beat out senior Evan Washington for the starting right guard position and will open the No. 13 Tigers' season opener against No. 14 Washington at 8 p.m. Saturday against Wisconsin in Houston on ESPN.
Fanaika (6-foot-6, 330) signed with the Tigers in 2013 out of the College of San Mateo in Sacramento, Calif., after playing at Florin High in Sacramento, but he has family ties to Tonga, a Polynesian sovereign state in the southern Pacific Ocean. He is LSU's first football player of Tongan descent.
He is called 'Hoko' for short.
'I think Hoko has really improved, and I think in the back end of camp he has come on,' LSU coach Les Miles said at his press luncheon on Monday. 'I would think that he would start. I think that Washington might still play in spots, not only at the guard spot but at one of the tackles.'
Fanaika did not realize he had won the starting job until he was told by a reporter later Monday.
'To be honest, I really didn't know,' he said. 'So, I'm pretty excited.'
Fanaika played in 12 games last season as a junior on special teams as a guard on extra points and field goals and as a backup guard, logging 24 snaps on offense.
HARRIS COULD MAKE HISTORY: If quarterback Brandon Harris of Parkway High in Bossier City starts LSU's opener Saturday night he will become the first true freshman at LSU to start a season opener under center. True freshman Jordan Jefferson started at quarterback in the 2008 season in the season finale at Arkansas. If Anthony Jennings starts at quarterback for LSU, he will be the first sophomore to do so in an opener since Jefferson at Washington in the 2009 season.
WINNING STREAKS: The Tigers will take the nation's longest regular season winning streak against non-conference opponents into their game against Wisconsin of the Big Ten. LSU has won 45 straight such games, including 35 in a row under Miles. The last non-conference loss in the regular season was 26-8 at Virginia Tech to open the 2002 season under Coach Nick Saban.
The Tigers have won 11 straight season opening games. LSU is 2-0 against Wisconsin with a 27-7 win in Tiger Stadium in 1972 and a 38-28 win in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1971.