DEVILLE: Tigers in "tune" for Auburn

I am not one to say I told you so. And I don't think of myself as being a person who gloats. But I do want to take the opportunity to address an issue that arose on an Arizona Web site last Saturday morning prior to LSU's clash with the Wildcats.

On our Web site—TigerRag.com—I  posted my prediction of the game, the same one that ran in last week's issue of our print publication. I called it as LSU 42, Arizona 14.

 

The national media was calling for a close game, and many Wildcat fans believed they could waltz into Tiger Stadium and register an upset.

 

Not quite.

 

I do not claim to be the greatest of prognosticators. (Yes, I picked Miami in last year's Peach Bowl). But after watching the Wildcats edge BYU 16-13 with a last-second field goal—AT HOME—a week earlier, the thought that Arizona had any chance of coming close to a victory in Tiger Stadium never entered my mind.

 

While many were calling for a close one, based mainly on an improved defense by coach Mike Stoops, it was pretty clear that LSU wasn't just going to win, but rather be able to name the score.

 

When I posted my prediction, LSU a winner by 28, on our homepage, it was labeled bulletin board material by the Wildcat faithful. Arizona fans scoffed at the notion of their beloved Cats getting another dose of 2003 when LSU drilled the Wildcats 59-13 in Tucson.

 

One colorful Arizona poster dismissed my forecast, saying, "No way would Mike Stoops' defense give up that many points. I don't see any team, USC, Oregon, and Cal included, scoring 42 on the Cats' D this year."

 

Another was quick to point out that the Wildcats had held BYU to 13 points the week earlier. I was completely confused with the fact Arizona fans regarded beating Brigham Young 16-13 as a major accomplishment.

 

Later on, I wasn't sure if the comment was directed at me personally or the LSU community in general, but another ardent Arizona follower labeled people from Louisiana as "the biggest redneck idiots anywhere."

 

Also, I liked the one where an Arizona fan said the LSU offense was one-dimensional, that all LSU does is run the ball, and that they would contain (JaMarcus) Russell. A little FYI:  The Tigers totaled 461 yards in the game, including 231 rushing yards offset by 230 yards passing.

 

But I digress.

 

The point I am trying to make is my gut told me LSU would roll over the Wildcats. And they did, pounding the Pac-10's cellar-dweller by the same score that they handled UL-Lafayette just a week earlier.

 

The 45-3 final score wasn't indicative of just how thorough the beating was, actually. Many fans grew bored by the slaughter taking place on the field. Huge gaps of empty seats were noticeable by the middle portion of the second quarter as fans chose to take advantage of the early kickoff and get in a few extra hours of tailgating.

 

But what many didn't see was the fact LSU could have scored 70, even 80, points in this one, making the score as lopsided as they'd have liked. The Arizona defense was hardly as good as previously billed coming into the contest. Stoops could only stand by and watch as LSU utilized one weapon after another in dissecting what some are calling "the best defense in the Pac-10." (And if that is the case, all I can say is YIKES!)

 

Another thing that wasn't represented in the final score was the way the Tigers physically manhandled the Wildcats on both sides of the ball. If you thought the Arizona defense was bad, you should see the offense. The Wildcats managed just 152 total yards, only 28 in the first half, and ran for a mere 35 yards in all. The LSU defense, most especially linebacker Darry Beckwith and free safety LaRon Landry, compiled a highlight reel of monster hits in demoralizing the helpless Wildcats.

 

Jonathan Zenon got another pick, one of three on the night, and returned it for a touchdown for the second straight week as Arizona quarterbacks were limited to just 117 yards passing.

 

In the end, 45-3 is the same as 7-0 or 80-6.  The score doesn't matter. More important is the fact the Tigers seem ready for the next task—no doubt the biggest one of the season in a trip to the Plains of Auburn for a showdown with the No. 3-ranked (AP Poll) Tigers.

Saturday's contest is being billed as the "game of the year" in the SEC, one of the biggest games in the nation, and could very well produce a team that will win the SEC title, and possibly a national championship.

 

Les Miles was asked prior to the season opener against ULL about players overlooking the Tigers' "tune-up games" versus the Cajuns and Arizona and prematurely focusing on the showdown with Auburn.

 

Miles laughed it off, saying no one in the program views any game as a "tune-up game." While the two games no doubt proved that just as LSU beat their first two opponents by a combined score of 90-6, Miles has to believe his team is properly "tuned" for the task at hand.

 

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Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag magazine. Reach him at matt@tigerrag.com.


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