This game, however, could well produce the national champion. At the least, the loser is all but out of it.
The winner gets no guarantees, but the loser has a markedly uphill battle to win the Southeastern Conference Western Division. If you can't win the SEC Western Division, you can't get to the SEC Championship Game. If you can't get to the SEC Championship Game and win it, you can't win the national championship.
So the stakes are huge. A national CBS audience, 2:30 p.m. kickoff, early long-term weather forecast for high 80s, overcast, maybe a thunderstorm.
This will be a battle of tremendous
The pure speed and anticipation is
After that? The next three plays netted a minus-21 yards.
Their next possession showed an incompletion, a 4-yard gain and an interception for a touchdown. Oops.
The next time they got the ball, already down 17-nil, it was three downs and punt, another minus-7 yards. And on, and on ...
LSU defenders combined for seven thrown-for-loss tackles. Jonathan Zenon hauled in his third interception of the season, running this one back for a touchdown.
Ten Tigers had three tackles or more, led by Darry Beckwith's nine, five of them solo.
LSU hasn't allowed a touchdown in
14 quarters—most significantly, not in the big Peach Bowl win over
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville was asked after beating State, at which point during the game he started thinking about LSU.
"Oh, about 14-0," he told The Birmingham News. "You've always got them in the back of your mind because we know we have to beat them.
"I'm sure in the back of their mind they know it is the same thing. There have been some great games over the last few years."
Indeed: Burned buildings, interception bonanzas, cigar smoking, weird calls and, for sure the past three years, national championship implications.
Such is the case this Saturday when the pregame hype will be real and warranted. If you're a college football fan, these are the games that not only define a season, but are fun to watch.