For LSU, Saturday's contest versus
the Crimson Tide in
The Tigers 1959 date with Ole Miss
was a huge game. It was the last time LSU met a team when both squads were
ranked in the top five. No doubt the Tigers matchups with Georgia in the 2003
SEC title game and Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship game rank right up
there as well, but Saturday's 16-13 overtime win over
While there are a plethora of games being overshadowed here, few games have carried the weight this one did. The SEC Western Division title on the line no doubt, a trip to the SEC title game, a BCS bowl bid and the very slim chance of a possible shot at a national title.
While the game meant a great deal
to LSU in terms of a possible league crown,
No game meant has ever meant more
for a single person than Saturday's game did for LSU coach Les Miles. Already in
a difficult situation following the legendary Nick Saban, Miles was faced with
enormous expectations from the get-go. A loss to
While Miles earned major stripes on
Saturday, his quarterback did the same. JaMarcus Russell came to LSU and was met
with a hero's welcome. However, it took time for the 6-6
While he has played well most of the season, despite a few rough spots, many still called for backup quarterback Matt Flynn instead of Russell. It didn't matter that Russell ranked near the top in every passing category and ranked second in the league in passing efficiency, folks wanted a change.
Russell pretty much put the silencer on those critics Saturday delivering what will go down as one of the most memorable touchdown passes in school history to Dwayne Bowe in overtime.
This game had it all.
While there was more defense than offense, the game was an old school battle of super powers playing with everything on the line. There were momentum shifts, controversial plays, rallies, even overtime; in the end the Tigers came out on top.
From the start, it looked as if
The Crimson Tide blitzed and harassed Russell into incompletions, sacks and limited the Tigers ground game to literally nothing in the first half. Actually, the Tigers had one rushing yard on 14 attempts in the first two quarters.
In all, LSU totaled 72 total yards of offense, trailed 10-0 and showed no signs of life whatsoever
Then, as if a switch had been
flipped, the Tigers came out in the second looking like a different team. LSU
took the ball to open the third quarter, marched 80 yards in nine plays and cut
LSU scored on its next possession as well when Chris Jackson knocked home a 42-yard field goal to tie the game 10-10.
The different in the second half
from the first, LSU stretched the field. In the first half, the Tigers didn't
By game's end, Russell didn't put up a good percentage (16 of 30 passes), but he did account for 229 yards and the game winning touchdown pass to Bowe in overtime.
Russell made as many bad throws as he did good ones, but played with lots of poise in the pocket and even executed a couple of designed quarterback draws implemented for this game. Miles said Russell did a good job of ad-libbing and he made things happen by scrambling around, sometimes awkwardly.
The running game produced a mere 46 yards in the game, however that stat is a bit skewed considering Russell lost 28 yards in sacks and Xavier carter was dragged down for a 13 yard loss on a botched double-reverse.
LSU's receivers, primarily Bowe,
had a big game. Bowe hauled in seven passes for 98 yards and the game-winning
touchdown in overtime. A very emotional Bowe celebrated with his teammates as
the touchdown was sweet redemption after he dropped a sure TD pass that would
have sealed the win earlier this year in the
Craig Davis had four catches for 58
yards and could have had another had the catch not been overturned by replay.
Actually, three times officials replayed receptions by
Overall, the offense did nothing
spectacular, minus a couple of big league throws by Russell and sheer
determination when trailing 10-0. But they did what needed to be done to leave
Just as it was a tale of two halves for the LSU offense, the Tiger defense followed suit.
While the numbers on the scoreboard didn't look all that that lopsided at halftime with Bama leading 10-0, the stat sheet showed otherwise.
Entering the game, the Crimson Tide
had scored all of one touchdown in 12 previous SEC quarters of football. By
Little did LSU fans know that at halftime senior defensive tackle delivered a locker room speech that energized the team, things changed dramatically in the second half.
Thanks to several sacks and
numerous big hits on
While the LSU defense surrendered huge chunks of yardage in the first half, the Tigers made adjustments in the second half, instituted many more blitz packages resulting in quite an impressive defensive stat sheet. LSU logged five sacks, six tackles for losses and seven quarterback hurries. Cameron Vaughn, LaRon Landry and Williams all had seven tackles each while Ronnie Prude and Claude Wroten each had six stops.
It is hard to criticize LSU place kicker Chris Jackson for missing three field goals on Saturday.
All three misses were from 43 yards and beyond and none were outright shanks. He did make a 42-yarder that proved to be the difference in the game, but all the hoopla could have ended much sooner had he made even one of the three missed kicks.
Skyler Green was a non-factor as he
managed to return one punt one yard and totaled 28 yards on two kickoffs.
Miles said there was really no
comparing the Tigers win over
Miles said he expected to win this game while at OSU the Cowboys were heavy underdogs and just hoped to stay in the game. The first year coach felt he had the better team with the better talent and in the end that was the case. However, at the beginning, it looked as if the more talented team might get blown off the field.
But Miles, who has been criticized for not making effective halftime adjustments, did an outstanding job adjusting to the Tide and it showed in the second half.
But the most important thing he did Saturday was remain patient. The Tide loves to win ugly. They like to lull you to sleep with a lackluster offense and a flurry of punts until you let your guard down make a mistake that costs you the game.
Miles calmly played the Tide's cat
and mouse game and picked his spots to strike both on offense and defense. The
Tigers didn't turn the ball over as they were so prong to do earlier in the
season and did not give
Miles and his staff are to be commended for an excellent gameplan that worked to, well near perfection.