TIGER RAG VIEWPOINT: Where We Stand

It has been a rather topsy-turvy week in the world of LSU sports.

After last Monday's 30-27 overtime debacle at the hands of Tennessee, Baton Rouge has turned from compassionate over the fallout of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to militant in regards to the coaching of Les Miles.

Never before has an LSU team blew a 21-point lead to lose a game – not only in Tiger Stadium – but in the program's 117-year history.

However, while the mood was one of doom and gloom throughout the week, Les responded to calls for his job with a resounding 37-7 win at Mississippi State on Saturday.

The win didn't come without some fireworks early on as Bo Pelini's defense was exploited yet again. But JaMarcus Russell's poise on offense and Kenny Hollis' ability to shake up the competition pulled the Tigers through.

On the SEC football front, Saturday was a day of realizing who were the contender and who are the pretenders. Alabama and Auburn are in while Vanderbilt and Florida could be on their way out. Steve Spurrier got a taste of his own medicine and Tennessee followed LSU's lead.

On the national front, USC continues to prove its No. 1 ranking surviving yet another close call and Michigan State played second fiddle again to big brother in Blue and Gold. JoePa put in his bid for comeback of the year and they are seeing pink in Iowa?

It is all here in our latest rant.

 To Les Miles. While most wouldn't mind riding the first year coach out of town on a rail, Miles should get some credit for holding his team together through an obstacle filled September, filled with two hurricanes, three postponements and an embarrassing loss. No matter what they say about Miles' coaching ability, his ability to motivate players remains a positive.

The LSU defense had its best game of the season holding Mississippi State to 229 yards of total offense and a paltry 56 yards on the ground. While Bo Pelini's unit had its most dominating performance, Omarr Coner's 66-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Joey Sanders will remain fresh on the minds of Tiger fans for some time.

It is amazing that during Saturday's 37-7 win over the Bulldogs, some were saying Russell needed to be pulled from the game for the likes of Matt Flynn or Ryan Perrilloux. While Russell did make a few bad decisions, give credit where credit is due. The sophomore quarterback set a school record for completion percentage (.870) connecting on 20 of 23 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Great job.

To big hits by the LSU defense, most notably the smack laid down on Bulldog tailback Jerious Norwood by Kenny Hollis and Jesse Daniels. Norwood took a shot from both Hollis and Daniels in the second quarter and left with a concussion. One of the SEC'stop running backs finished with nine yards on seven carries.

To the state of Alabama. The question whether or not Alabama has returned to glory is becoming more and more apparent. After opening the season 4-0 for the time since 1996, the Crimson Tide not only upset No. 5 Florida on Saturday, but routed Urban Meyer's Gators 31-3. There are rumblings that Alabama could be the best team in the conference.

To the Auburn Tigers. Not only did the Tigers improve to 4-1 winning their fourth straight game, Tommy Tuberville allowed South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier the opportunity to experience what it feels like to be blown out. War Eagle dismissed Spurrier's Cock N Fire South Carolina squad 48-7, even leading the Gamecocks 48-0.

What is the deal with the Florida Gators? The Gators beat Tennessee is what was dubbed the game of the year in the SEC East then looked invincible in scoring 49 first half points against Kentucky, then lost to Alabama? Some said in the preseason Alabama was good, but this good? Florida looked helpless on offense and defense as the Crimson Tide railed the 5th-ranked Gators. Is the honeymoon over in Gaiensville?

To Tyrone Protho's injury. While Alabama will likely miss a beat with a very deep receiving corps, the memory of Prothro's gruesome leg injury won't soon fade. The talented Bama senior hauled in what should have been a touchdown pass from Brodie Croyle, but came down wrong on his left leg breaking it in two places. Let's just say this made Joe Theisman's knee look like a Wiggle's video.

How many times can Vanderbilt do it? Off to a 4-0 start for the first time since the Roosevelt Administration, the soon-to-be 5-0 Commodores were getting psyched for a SEC showdown with LSU to be aired nationally on ESPN. All Bobby Johnson's team had to do was beat winless Middle Tennessee State for the unblemished beginning right? Not quite. The Blue Raiders kicked a field goal with six minutes remaining to upset heavily-favored Vandy and squelch the growing confidence in Nashville.

As bad as many college football fans would hate to admit, the USC Trojans are the best team in college football. Again, Pete Carroll's team should why they have won 25 straight games rallying from a 21-3 deficit at halftime to beat Arizona State 38-28 on Saturday. The Trojans trailed Oregon 13-0 at halftime the week before and have now outscored opponents 70-7 in the second half over the past two weeks.

To Michigan State. The Spartans have been riding a wave of emotion since defeating Notre Dame three weekends ago to leap into the national rankings. John L. Smith's team avoided a letdown last week trouncing lowly Illinois and was primed for a showdown with rival Michigan. In Ann Arbor, Wolverine fans have been growing impatient as coach Lloyd Carr's team slumped to 2-2 with a loss to Minnesota after being ranked No. 3 to start the season. But in typical fashion, MSU bowed to its abusive big brother missing a field goal in overtime that allowed Big Blue to kick a field goal of its own to win 34-31.

Whoa Nellie, Penn State is 5-0? That's right, unbeknownst to many, Joe Paterno has rallied his Nittany Lions as Penn State is unbeaten and building steam. JoePa's team won an nail-biter over Northwestern two weeks ago to begin drawing attention and made a statement this past Saturday spoiling Minnesota's buzz with a 44-14 trouncing. How dominant was PSU? The Nittany Lions won the battle of first downs 35-13. Up next, folks will find out if Penn State is for real when No. 8 Ohio State visits on Saturday.

We have given coach Bill Callahan's Nebraska Cornhuskers a good bit of grief, especially after he Huskers beat Pitt 7-6 three weeks ago. But giving the deserved credit, Callahan has Nebraska 4-0 and is fresh off a 27-20 upset of No. 23 Iowa State.

Finally, what is college football coming to? First, traditional American Indian mascots get nixed by the NCAA and now the color pink? Longtime coach Hayden Fry of Iowa was a big believer in psychological warfare. The hall of fame coach began a tradition of decorating the opposing locker room totally in pink. When coach Kirk Ferentz came to Iowa City, he kept the tradition in tact. When Kinnick Stadium was renovated last year, they took the concept a step further making everything in the locker room pink – urinals, showers, carpet, lockers – EVERYTHING! Go figure, a female law professor on campus has caused an uproar saying the use of pink is inappropriate. Critics say the use of pink demeans women, perpetuates offensive stereotypes about women and homosexuality, and puts the university in the uncomfortable position of tacitly supporting those messages. ''I want the locker room gone,'' law school professor Jill Gaulding told a university committee. JEEEEZ… the next thing you know schools will not be permitted to use animals as mascots because it retards positive morale among tigers or bulldogs or buffaloes or even horned frogs. Notre Dame might be forced to paint over its Touchdown Jesus mural because it is offensive to atheists and might also be told to stop the tradition of using 24-karat gold flakes in its helmet paint because it is a waste of natural resources. Tulane and Alabama could be forced to discontinue use of watery nicknames due to sensitivity stemming from hurricanes on the gulf coast. Where does this silliness subside. Political correctness has affected everything from the Pledge of Allegiance to the spirit of Christmas, please do not let it further spoil the sanctity of college football.


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