Where did that come from?

LSU and Miami fans alike were still shaking their heads the next day in the wake of the 10th-ranked Tigers 40-3 thrashing of No. 9 Miami in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.

Miami fans were wondering what happened as the mighty Hurricanes were thoroughly dominated in every aspect of the game.


LSU fans shared the same shock but in a much different manner as Tiger followers basked in the glow of an unexpected lopsided victory.


While the 40-3 score, the worst postseason loss in Miami football history, is clearly evidence enough of LSU's total domination, taking a look at the stat sheet shows much more staggering results.


Coming into the game, Miami ranked No. 1 in passing defense as well as pass efficiency defense and ranked No. 3 in the nation in total defense. Also, the Canes were 12th in college football against the run surrendering just 103 yards per game.


Let's just say those numbers will be a bit different in the final statistical rankings.


LSU's offense, which mustered a paltry 230 yards of total offense versus Georgia in the SEC title game, rolled up 468 yards of offense, including 272 rushing yards and scored 40 unanswered points on eight consecutive possessions en route to the 37-point victory.

As dominant as LSU's offense was against the heralded Hurricane defensive unit, the Tigers' defense stole the show.


Miami accounted for just 153 yards of total offense, including a miniscule three offensive yards in the second half, and picked up only six first downs, all of which came in the first half. Even more impressive on the part of the LSU defense, Miami did not gain a first down past the 12-minute mark of the second quarter.




This was a team that was ranked third in the BCS in early November.


Some other eye-popping stats:

-         LSU nearly outdistanced the Canes by 19 minutes in time of possession with a 39:08 to 20:52 advantage.

-         The Tigers ran 32 more offensive plays than Miami lining up 78 times to the Hurricanes 46.

-         LSU punted just once in the game, offset by eight Miami punts.

-         LSU averaged almost five yards per carry rushing 55 times for 272 yards, an average of 4.9 yards per rush. Miami ran 23 times for 53 yards, an average of just over two yards per carry.


Throughout the course of the season, it has been said time and again this team is loaded with talent, but time swill tell how good they can really be only when they put it all together. Fans waited 12 games for LSU to get it together and not once did the Tigers play a complete game; play 100-percent for 60 minutes.


There is no question LSU played their best in this game. Maybe it took lucky No. 13 to get it right.



The Offense:


The biggest X-factor of this Peach Bowl was the insertion of backup quarterback Matt Flynn into the starting lineup.


Starter JaMarcus Russell was injured in the SEC Championship Game and did not even make the trip. Flynn came to LSU highly regarded but had seen very limited times at quarterback. Heading into the Peach Bowl, Flynn had just 33 pass attempts in his career.


The redshirt sophomore showed very little signs of being a rookie and took command of the LSU offense in a way few thought possible.


Senior offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth said Flynn commanded the huddle like no other quarterback he had seen before showing firm leadership, which carried over to his play on the field.


Flynn completed just one of his first five pass attempts, but connected on 12 of his final 17 passes to finish with 196 yards on 13 of 22 passing and two touchdowns. Flynn's 49-yard bomb to Craig Davis was perfectly thrown and allowed the Tigers to take a 10-3 lead.


Just before halftime, Flynn tossed his second scoring pass, a four yard bootleg pass to Joseph Addai, to carry a 20-3 lead into the halftime break.


Flynn looked much like former quarter Matt Mauck in the way he led the offense completing high percentage passes and using his legs as a weapon when necessary. Flynn rushed five times for 39 yards, an average of 7.8 yards per carry. Flynn was named the Peach Bowl's Most Valuable Player.


While Flynn's play was a pleasant surprise to Tiger fans, it was no surprise what Addai was able to accomplish on the ground. However, since injuring his ankle in the North Texas game, Addai drifted into obscurity down the stretch carrying the ball only twice in the SEC title game loss to Georgia.


But against the Canes, a healthy and rejuvenated Addai ran wild collecting 130 yards on 24 carries with rushing and receiving touchdowns.


The LSU offensive line had its best game of the year as a talented Miami front had no answer for the Tigers' surge. It didn't matter who was carrying the ball, the holes were gaping and the results staggering.


Jacob Hester, a seldom used fullback, racked up 70 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. On the Tigers last drive of the third quarter, Hester touched the ball seven (one catch, six rushes) times on a nine play drive and bounded into the end zone on a 1-yard scoring run for a 34-3 lead.


Some new contact lenses may have been the difference for Dwayne Bowe, who hauled in a game high five catches for 99 yards. Bowe, who had been criticized for dropping several pass during the season, including the sure game clinching touchdowns versus Auburn, was sure-handed making several acrobatic catches for first downs.


Grade: A+



The Defense:


The Miami offense had some issues coming into the game.


Sure quarterback Kyle Wright had gotten better throughout the course of the season and the Hurricanes had big play ability in players like Devin Hester and Sinorice Moss.


But in Miami's two losses this season versus Florida State and Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes struggled mightily on offense scoring a combined 17 points (7 versus FSU and 10 against Ga. Tech).


Leading rusher Tyrone Moss was lost for the year in the Virginia Tech game and leading wideout Ryan Moore was suspended prior to the Peach Bowl and didn't make the trip.


However, Miami still had enough firepower to make things happen. The plan was to get Hester more involved.


Coker managed to do so in the early stages of the game. Hester ran for big gain after big gain lining up at running back, receiver even quarterback on Miami's first two drives of the game.


But the Tiger defense stiffened, stopping Miami twice on fourth and short situations and pushed the momentum heavily LSU's favor, putting the Tiger offense in outstanding field position. Hester was reduced to a mere 24 yards on seven carries and had two catches for 40 yards.


Wright managed just 100 yards passing completing just 10 of 21 passes. Coming into the Peach Bowl, Wright was sacked 16 times in Miami's nine victories. In the Canes two losses he was also sacked 16 times. LSU got to Wright only four times, but Melvin Oliver's slobber knocker in the second quarter knocked Wright off balance and he was never the same again in the game. Oliver was later named the game's most valuable defensive player.


No player had more than five tackles in the game, but the entire collective effort of the defense and the fact Miami didn't gain even a first down in the final 42 minutes of the game was an amazing accomplishment.


To think, 13 games ago the Tigers gave up 561 yards of offense to Arizona State. Almost four months later, LSU held Miami, of all teams, to a fourth of that.


Grade: A+



Special Teams:


Sure Chris Jackson missed an early field goal and a couple of Skyler Green punt returns were called back due to penalty, but the Tigers put together arguably its best special teams effort of the year against Miami.


Jackson and Colt David combined to go four of five on field goals, including a career long 35 for David and a 50-yarder by Jackson.


While LSU was criticized after the game for faking two kicks, the Tigers faked a punt and a field goal to perfection in the second half leading to two field goals.


Green finally got his hands on a couple of punt returns and looked much more dangerous in the open field than Hester. Green also showed some flashes of brilliance from the quarterback position rushing five times for 15 yards.


Jackson continued to pin Miami deep in their own territory booting several kickoffs through the back of the end zone.


Grade: A





It will be interesting to see if Miles if given a vote of confidence by the fans after winning 11 games, finishing ranked in the top 10 and handing one of the most storied programs in college football history its worst bowl loss ever.


Time will tell that tale, but Miles should be commended for having his team to ready to play, especially after the Tigers had a month to stew in getting drilled by Georgia in the SEC title game.


Overall, the rookie LSU coach made some mistakes this season, but in the end, gets a great big thumbs up for keeping this team together through a period of great adversity, bouncing back from a gut wrenching defeat to go on and run the table.


Miles finds himself in pretty elite company in terms of wins. The victory was the team's 11th of the year, only the third time in the history of the program a team won 11 or more games. Paul Dietzel's 1958 Tigers were the first to achieve more than 10 victories going 11-0 en route to a national title.


In 2003, Nick Saban led LSU to a 13-1 record, the most wins in school history, and the school's second ever national championship.


Since 2001, LSU has reached double digits in wins three times in five seasons and are averaging 10.3 wins per season.


Heading into the offseason, Miles has a chance to strengthen his foothold in Baton Rouge by closing out a good recruiting class. But his most delicate and critical situation awaits him in the ongoing debate over who is to be LSU's quarterback as now Matt Flynn has thrown a major wrench in the engine. It should make for an interesting spring.


Grade: A

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