Frustrations for both teams.
Rallies for both teams.
More drama – hold-your-breath-because-it's-that-good-drama – when JaMarcus Russell found Early Doucet for just more than 8 yards on fourth-and-8 from the UT on what was assuredly LSU's last possession.
And then, finally for Russell, a touchdown strike to win a game on the road.
Russell needed that TD pass in a big way, to almost validate himself and all he's done in two magnificent seasons at the helm of LSU's offense.
Until that last-minutes drive, until that last-seconds score, Russell was in danger of becoming another Shaquille O'Neal.
Seriously. Not that that's a bad thing, but at LSU, O'Neal certainly had his shortcomings.
During his three-year college career – and trust me on this, because I was the only media person to see and cover every one of his games – O'Neal never won a game on a last shot.
As a freshman, he had some big moments but was often shadowed by Chris Jackson and Stanley Roberts.
As a sophomore, despite being the national player of the year, he couldn't get LSU past the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Then, as a junior, it seemed as if
his play declined. And while all the focus remained on O'Neal, he couldn't
deliver a big victory as LSU's season and his career ended in the second round
of the NCAA Tournament against
Yet all the while during those three seasons you knew this man-child would go on to the NBA and have a marvelous career.
Fast forward to Russell, who also will go on to the NFL and have a tremendous career. He is, at 6-6 and 260, what O'Neal was at LSU, an athlete simply too good and too big and strong to fail.
Russell has the strongest arm I've
ever seen. Heck, he might be the strongest quarterback I've ever seen. There are
times – and it happened against
Yet, until Saturday, when he capped the 28-24 victory with a touchdown pass to Doucet with 9 seconds left, Russell's legacy had been left wanting.
In all probability, Russell will enter the NFL draft next spring. He will be a great success at the next level and be wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. But until Saturday, he hadn't delivered during a road game that had the kind of national-picture stakes that Saturday did.
Yes, he'd engineered great
victories, especially the TD toss at
That wasn't at
And it wasn't even in the first
three-and-a-half quarters of Saturday's game at
All of which set up that 15-play, 80-yard drive that ate up all but the last nine seconds of the game and left us praising Russell's first big-game, big-time comeback in a hostile place at a critical time.
Hard as it is to believe, Shaquille O'Neal could never make that claim while at LSU.
His book, "HoopDaddy" is available at www.HoopDaddy.net.