FEINSWOG: LSU expends little energy in win

Oh, give me a home where the Tigers roam... As compared to playing on the road, of course.

After beating Mississippi State on Saturday, 48-17, consider this:  In four games in Tiger Stadium, LSU has outscored its opponents 187-30. That includes Arizona kicking a field goal with 1:06 left in the game, Tulane getting a touchdown with 3:21 left, and State getting two TDs in a meaningless second half, one on an interception return.


State had about as much chance of winning that game as it did getting struck by lightning. Oh, wait … well, never mind. The good news is no one was struck by lightning.


A few minutes before halftime and the Tigers already up 35-3, an LSU official warned that a weather report predicted unsafe conditions in Baton Rouge in about a half hour.


The report was right on, because those black clouds to the west – that's the beauty of the new west side of Tiger Stadium, that you can see forever towards Texas on a clear day – were open for business.


Take away that 52-minute weather delay and LSU simply dispatched of woeful State in surgical fashion.


Not that many were there to see it.


Because of the 11:30 a.m. start and a matchup that had no sizzle, the crowd inside Tiger Stadium at kickoff looked like one of those gatherings during the end of the Curley Hallman era. And by the third quarter, the word "smattering" comes to mind to describe those remaining.


By then, JaMarcus Russell was already out of the game after putting together his finest aerial display as a Tiger. In the first quarter alone, Russell completed 7 of 8 passes for 202 yards, finishing the day 18-of-20 for 330 yards and three touchdowns.


To the guys who call into Baton Rouge sports radio and say, "I'm still not sold on Russell. …" What are you, nuts?


Anyway, he's been awesome at home this season.  But in one game on the road, Russell couldn't find the end zone in that 7-3 defeat at Auburn despite completing 20 of 35 passes for 269 yards.


This Saturday, LSU goes to Florida in the second of four road games that will define its season.


In the first, the loss to Auburn all but ensured that LSU will not win the Southeastern Conference Western Division, the overall SEC title nor the national championship.


At Florida, LSU has to win to stay in contention for a BCS bowl slot.


One never knows how these things work, but it's safe to say LSU didn't expend a lot of emotional energy against State. Florida, however, had to give everything it had to beat Alabama, 28-13.


As important as this game is to LSU, there's even more at stake for Florida, which is 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the SEC. With a victory over Tennessee already in hand, Florida is very much in the league-title and national-championship hunt.


Not that things are easy for the Gators. After playing host to LSU, Florida goes to Auburn. That means playing two of the nation's top defenses in back-to-back weeks.


By the way, let's say on the record that this is the best LSU defense ever through almost half a season. These Tigers are remarkable in every facet of the game, from speed to swarming to hitting to timing to, well, everything.


You're almost surprised when an opponent gets a first down.


That being said, the schedule has been kind to LSU. The first four home opponents should have been beaten into submission. LSU should win all eight of its home games this year. (Left on the schedule are Kentucky, Fresno State, Alabama and Ole Miss).


Entering the season, LSU knew its toughest challenges would be on the road, having to go to Auburn, Florida and Tennessee. Those are the cards dealt to the Tigers.


They might win more games at home by 40-something points, but they desperately need to win Saturday at Florida, regardless of the margin.




Lee Feinswog is a Baton Rouge sportswriter and host of the television show "Sports Monday." Reach him at (225) 926-3256 or lee@sportsbatonrouge.com. His book "HoopDaddy" is available at www.HoopDaddy.net.

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