FEINSWOG: Week off well-timed for Tigers

An hour before the game, LSU athletic director Skip Bertman paced nervously around the press box.

Just gotta get our 24 points or so and then get out of here and take a week off. No team needs a week off more than ours, Bertman said.


Bertman knew going in that LSU was on shaky ground, playing for its BCS life with a banged-up roster that hadn't had a weekend off since beating Mississippi State the last Thursday in August.


Can you remember what you thought about the LSU football team back then?


Can you remember what you would have thought if we told you the Tigers would be 7-1 after beating Auburn 30-24?


Would you have taken that, knowing that it meant LSU was atop the SEC Western Division and ranked third in the country in the only poll that matters, the BCS standings?

Almost everyone said that the key to this season was that the two toughest games – the two LSU lost on the road last year – were at home this season.


And now that they're history, yes, LSU beat Florida and now Auburn in Tiger Stadium with incredible late-game comebacks. It's not unfair to think neither of those triumphs would have occurred in either Gainesville or Auburn.


You can take it a step farther: Don't you think LSU would have beaten Kentucky had that game been in Baton Rouge?


This past Saturday, because of that Kentucky loss, LSU's season was on the brink.


Hello, Tigers:


The first half counts.




The lessons you should have learned at Tulane were lost against Florida and almost came back to bite you in the butt again against Auburn.


Your lives would be so much easier if you didn't have to rally against all odds in the fourth quarter.


So now LSU gets to step back, heal a bit and prepare for the game that most of you have been anticipating since Nick Saban left the Miami Dolphins for Alabama.


Here's the difference:


Alabama's season is already a success. The Tide is bowl eligible and isn't expected to beat LSU.


LSU, rather, is playing for its national-championship life. Another loss and it's done. If that loss comes at Alabama, well, whoa is them.


Whereas Alabama is/was playing for respectability in its first year under Saban, LSU has aspirations of winning it all. Certainly after its 6-0 start it would be a huge disappointment to accomplish anything less.


Clearly the pressure is all on LSU.


Alabama is playing well. The Tide crushed Tennessee last Saturday, has won three in a row, and you could argue it was unlucky in its two defeats, in overtime to Georgia and by a touchdown to Florida State. Alabama also has this weekend off as it prepares for LSU.


Rich, delicious college-football drama in a season where no lead is safe, no favorite is favored and LSU keeps on coming back from the edge to celebrate pulling off another gamble.


By the way, as it turned out, Bertman was a point off.


LSU actually needed at least 25 to win in regulation, which it would have had if it went for and made the field goal at the end.


But in sports, you make decisions. If your call works, it was the right one. If it doesn't, it was wrong. More often than not, LSU has made the right calls this season as it heads into that much-needed weekend off.





Baton Rouge sportswriter Lee Feinswog is the host of the weekly television show Sports Monday. He's covered LSU athletics since 1984. His book HoopDaddy is available at www.HoopDaddy.net. Contact Lee at sportsmonday@aol.com  or (225) 926-3256.

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