Right at home

In No 1-ranked LSU's toughest test of the season, Les Miles and his team thrive under pressure ... again

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Here it was again, the massive stage LSU coach Les Miles has stood on – and thrived on – so many times.

And damn if he didn't do things like he always does and have a great time doing so.

Before the game he saluted the Alabama student section, afterward saying he did so because he loves their passion.

He survived a pre-game spill as the No. 1-ranked Tigers surged out of the tunnel, describing it later as getting knocked over by his "292-pound rompin', stompin' fullback (J.C. Copeland).

He ate grass when the game reached a crucial point.

He even strayed in character a bit without calling up anything tricky, while his counterpart did try a gadget play that backfired badly.

A master of endearing self-deprecation, Miles was able to make light of a defensive dominated game that might have looked ugly to a lot of eyes.

The script, Miles insisted, was for his team to hang up 35-45 points. Against an Alabama defense that that had allowed 55 in 480 minutes before Saturday.

His reasoning?

"We have a disease: It's called preparation," Miles said. "As soon as you prepare you feel like you've got it right and you feel very confident about it. It's not necessarily the number that you put on it, it's a feel that this thing is going to right and we have the right plan. I don't know that we did now that I look back. Maybe we had the right plan just the wrong defense we were playing against."

Indeed, all that prep work faded to the background, though, when Saturday's game quickly jumped the tracks.

Any notion of either offense seizing the game by the throat evaporated quickly – first when LSU bowed up and forced an Alabama field-goal attempt after what looked a drive when the Crimson Tide was poised to jump in front and then when the Tigers offense bogged down.

"About the first series it appeared to be (off the script)," Miles said. "I said ‘Wow that didn't go like I wanted it to go. About the same time you guys started saying ‘Wow, this is going to be ugly game.' "

Ugly? Maybe so.

Hard to argue with the results, though.

"Great football," Miles said. "Not necessarily just a pretty game, but we like the ending."

Another ending in LSU's favor in a season that now seems to be destined toward the kind of memorable finish Tigers' fans have gotten accustomed to.

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