Saturday's game in
It doesn't matter now. As of 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon, the Tigers are ranked No. 1 in the land.
Despite a penalty-riddled first half and a one-point, 10-9 halftime advantage over lowly Tulane, LSU gathered itself in the second half, scoring 24second-half points and rolling to a 34-9 win over a surprisingly pesky Green Wave team in the Louisiana Superdome.
While there were more than a few concerns voiced in the wake of Saturday afternoon's sleepwalk in the Big Easy, it could have been much, much worse.
Just ask anyone around the country,
most notably in
Saturday was one of those wild, wacky days that make college football the greatest game on Earth. Three top-five teams, seven of the top 13, and nine ranked opponents all went down in flames over the weekend.
How does all of this affect LSU?
Five top-10 teams lost for the first time since 2003. Ironically that year, those five losses helped propel LSU from No. 8 to third in the poll and inevitably thrust the Tigers into the serious side of the national championship debate.
LSU has been a fixture in that
debate this season with several other teams, but Saturday's free-for-all served
as a clearinghouse for the "who's really the best team" debate. The Tigers' ugly
win over Tulane, coupled with USC's mistake-ridden 27-24 win at
LSU earned 1,593 points compared to 1,591 by USC. The Tigers picked up 33 first-place votes, offset by the Trojans' 32. It is the first time since 1959 that an LSU team finds itself at the top of the AP poll and the first time the Tigers have been ranked in the nation's top spot during the regular season since that year as well.
It seems strange that the Tigers ascend to No. 1 this week – especially after they played so poorly against the Green Wave. LSU owns two previous victories this season over top-12 teams and neither were enough to boost the Tigers to the top spot.
Yet a 25-point win over a team LSU should have pummeled proved to be enough to get the job done. One e-mail I received on Sunday stated "No. 1 after that? The voters must really watch ‘SportsCenter.'"
I tend to agree.
Yes, LSU trailed at one point in the game. Things got a bit tense as hundreds of Tulane fans waved their green pom-poms in the air. Do not misinterpret this, however; never was the game truly in doubt. The Tigers continued shooting themselves in the foot time and again with penalties, turnovers, and one mental lapse after another.
They did recover, though, and in the second half looked much more like the team that dominated throughout the first four games and dismissed the Green Wave.
Prior to Saturday's game, the Ole Miss game a year ago was by far the worst performance of the Miles era. But that
at least came against an SEC team and not a cellar-dweller from Conference
Another piece of irony from this game is that an 11 a.m. kickoff probably saved LSU from national humiliation and allowed the Tigers to leapfrog the Trojans. While LSU fans hate the morning kickoff, if the Tigers had laid that first-half egg and trailed Tulane during prime time, it is likely LSU would have fallen in the polls … well, if the rest of the top five didn't lose.
The voters were still sipping their
coffee, reading Saturday's paper and marveling over
Welcome back, No. 1 LSU. It's been a while.
Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.