For a team supposedly on the scent of a national championship, the Tigers were either remarkably undisciplined or lacked any of the poise required of all title teams with 14 penalties. FOURTEEN penalties! Let's face it: LSU – and its 130 yards in penalties compared to the Tide's paltry two for 15 yards – is what kept a lesser opponent in the game.
The Tigers were on the verge of blowing out the Crimson Tide early in the second quarter, had a 17-3 lead, had just held Bama for three downs, and was about to get the ball again in good field position.
Wait a minute! There's a flag. LSU roughed the passer on third down, giving the Tide new life. Bama went from there to a touchdown … and an eventual 20-17 halftime lead.
In a case of one step forward, two steps back, LSU was almost done in – and maybe deserved to be – with self-inflicted wounds. The coup de grâce very nearly came in the fourth quarter when the Tigers climbed back in the game with 10 straight points to tie the score at 27. Seeming ready to take command, LSU faced a fourth-and-inches at their own 36. LSU lined up, clearly in a situation to try to draw the Tide offsides – and did. Except that center Brett Helms was ruled to have moved the ball in a simulation of a snap.
To make matters worse, Tigers lineman Carnell Stewart jumped up to protest, taking off his helmet, an automatic and additional 15-yard penalty. Bama's Javier Arenas ran back the ensuing punt 61 yards to put the Tide back in front.
LSU had to beat two teams Saturday:
But I know this: Against a really good opponent, like
* * *
Events of the last week reminded us of the fascinating story of former LSU coach Paul Dietzel and his up-close view of history-in-the-making.
A center on the
Based on Tinian in the
On a runway adjoining the one used by the Banana Boat was a solitary and different-looking B-29, one without gun turrets, obviously being fitted for new equipment. A chain-link fence went up around a nearby large building. An extra-large contingent of military police surrounded the fence.
"We were told they were working on a new type of photo reconnaissance ship," Dietzel recalled. "But things did seem kind of strange."
Eventually, the Banana Boat crew, now battle-tested and savvy, was sent back to California to train as a lead crew in the continuing bombing of Japan. While they were there, the
"Little Boy," the bomb, was assembled in the building behind the chain-link fence on
Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay, died this week, bringing to mind Dietzel's proximity to perhaps the most world-changing event in history.
* * *
Bear Bryant, as every LSU fan knows too well, owned LSU when he was head coach at
Last year, in a snide, left-handed compliment, sage old ESPN commentator Lou Holtz said LSU was the most talented team in the history of football to lose two games. The question is this: Now that
For those questioning why LSU, with three victories that could have gone either way and one that did get away, should be in the mix for the BCS title game, listen up: because the Tigers' gaudy 8-1 record was achieved against the most demanding schedule of any of the contenders. LSU has played six (Virginia Tech,
Marty Mule' can be reached at MJM981@Bellsouth.net.