MULE': LSU's home slate actually not that bad

It's funny how different a season looks at the end as opposed to the beginning. Nobody would argue that LSU's 2006 home schedule was a back-breaker, but after the weekend it appears not quite as the barrel in which to shoot fish as before.

Alabama earned a lot of respect against the Tigers, playing hard and well. In fact, I think, the Crimson Tide played better in losing to LSU than Auburn played in beating LSU on the road the third week of the season. The thought of a Bama win over Auburn should fuel some of the long-shot hopes of Tiger fans still panting for a SEC West crown, despite the fact that Arkansas now looks like the most complete team in the conference.


And while Alabama was gaining grudging kudos from the LSU faithful, there was Arizona, a 45-3 victim to LSU the second week of the season, beating eighth-ranked California – the Wildcats' second consecutive victory against a ranked team, having beaten Washington State a week ago – and moving their record to a respectable 5-5. Also Kentucky, a 49-0 loser to LSU a month ago, is now bowl-eligible after getting its sixth victory Saturday against Vanderbilt.


The way Alabama struggled earlier in the season, and the way Arizona and Kentucky looked against LSU, it's a little hard to believe how these teams pulled themselves together for football respectability.


Kudos are richly deserved by all coaches involved.


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Even harder to fathom is the fact that after Saturday's 28-14 victory, LSU has now won six of its last seven against Bama, and a historical benchmark of four straight. Neither had ever been achieved before by the Tigers against the former ogre of the SEC.


For those who lived through the reign of Bear Bryant, when the Crimson Tide won 14 of 16 against LSU, including eight of nine in Tiger Stadium, the recent series brings home the realization that nothing is forever.


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QUIPS, QUOTES & NOTES – Here's a question for the oracles of the BCS: if an unbeaten Louisville was worthy of being considered for the national championship game, despite its Big East pedigree and schedule, then how come Rutgers is not? After beating the Cardinals 28-25 Thursday night, the Scarlet Knights, from the same conference, with a comparable schedule, are just as undefeated now as Louisville was when the experts were falling all over logic trying to make a case for the Cardinals.


Next week's Ole Miss game will the 324th consecutive LSU game covered by Lake Charles American-Press sports editor Scooter Hobbs. The streak dates back to when he was a student worker under former LSU sports information director Paul Manasseh. . . . Here's how urban legends get started and are perpetuated: On a New Orleans television station the discussion was the late ‘80s movie (italics) Everybody's All-American (end italics), and one of the anchors blithely said on the air that the story was based on Billy Cannon. It, of course, was not. The movie was filmed at LSU and the central character and football team wore Tiger uniforms and the crowds sang LSU fight songs. But the story, in the novel on which the film was based, was set in North Carolina. If the protagonist was based on a real player (and author Frank DeFord said it was not) it probably was the 1940s Tar Heel great Charlie Justice. Chapel Hill was where the producers wanted to shoot the picture, but UNC, sensitive about the issue, refused to allow it. Oxford, Miss., was the second choice, but that also fell through, which is how Baton Rouge became the setting for the story.


The Tigers must have hooked somebody outside the Pelican State. The LSU at Tennessee game pulled a 3.99 national household rating/share for CBS. It was the highest rated college football broadcast for the network during 2006, and the highest-rated college football game since a 4.4 for the, well, LSU at Alabama game last season.  CBS is averaging 3.07 this season.


Do you think sportscaster Verne Lundquist had a brain freeze during the Tennessee game? Talking about Chris Jackson's fake punt for a crucial first down, Lundquist said Jackson, unlike many kickers, is a real athlete. Making his case, Lundquist said Jackson was the starting third baseman for Skip Bertman's baseball team. Bertman, of course, hasn't coached LSU baseball for four years, meaning Jackson's athletic eligibility would be a question – a real big question.          




Marty Mule' can be reached at

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