LSU could be best of all-time with win

Goliath vs. Goliath: Part II
January 3, 2012
3 locals part of LSU’s BCS plans
January 3, 2012
Goliath vs. Goliath: Part II
January 3, 2012
3 locals part of LSU’s BCS plans
January 3, 2012

For some, it happened in the first game of the season when the Tigers throttled Oregon in decisive fashion without their starting quarterback and most experienced wide receiver.

For others, it was maybe the Mississippi State game or possibly even LSU’s win at West Virginia.

Still some others may have needed the Alabama win for reassurance.

The date the light bulb moment occurred isn’t necessarily important – that’s an argument for another day.

But I think we can all agree now that this 2011 LSU football team is special.

How special?

If they win Jan. 9’s showdown with Alabama, they just might be the best college football team of all-time.

I know, I know – the term “all-time” is overused in sports, but hear me out – this one actually has some merit.

LSU is 13-0 so far this season – a staple of any national champion in the ultimate sport of perfection that is college football.

But dig deeper into the Tigers’ season and it’s easy to see that LSU’s version of perfection isn’t just a fluke – this team truly has been pretty darned close to flawless.

The Tigers have been dominant on the scoreboard this year and that’s putting it mildly.

In 13 games, LSU has outscored its opponents by an absurd 500-137 margin. Putting perspective to that level of dominants, the Tigers averaged winning games by a final score of 38-10 and have only trailed in four of their 13 games.

Dominating is nice, but it’s not unheard of in college football. The infamous Reggie Bush USC teams crushed everyone in their path in 2004 (even though the NCAA tells you those games were never played because of the Heisman investigation), just like the great Miami and Nebraska teams did in the early 2000s and mid 1990s respectively, as well.

But LSU’s dominance is different. They didn’t master a pudgy PAC-10 schedule filled with out of conference cream puffs like Hawaii or Fresno State – they dominated the best conference in America, the SEC.

Oh yeah, a naysayer might get cute and point to the fact that the SEC is a tad down this year.

But that SEC schedule LSU conquered was also glittered with some of the most premier out of conference games in the entire 2011-12 season.

Of LSU’s 13 wins, eight came in games where the Tigers’ opponent entered the game among the top 25 teams in the country.

Of that bunch, a handful of teams have since dropped out of the rankings like Mississippi State and Florida.

But the Tigers still have three wins against opponents in the Top 7 in the country.

PAC 12 champion Oregon? That team that just got done playing in the Rose Bowl? No problem, LSU pounced them 40-27 in a game that was not nearly as close as that 13-point spread indicates.

Big East champion West Virginia? That same squad that played in the Orange Bowl? Not a chance. LSU routed them 47-21 in the biggest game in the history of the Mountaineers’ football program.

The SEC’s second best team Alabama? No problem. OK, OK, maybe the game was a problem, but it was still a win.

SEC East Champion Georgia? Another decisive game where the ball game wasn’t ever in doubt in the fourth quarter.

What do all four of those games have in common? They weren’t even played in Tiger Stadium.

What do teams that routinely win showdowns on the road have in common? The heart of an unquestioned champion.

That unquestioned heart wasn’t often tested on the field for LSU, but it was tested all year off it for the Tigers in 2011 – another reason this team is special.

It all started over the summer when first-year offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe was forced to resign and take a lesser role because of Parkinson’s disease.

The chaos shifted to the start of the season and Kragthorpe’s setback was forgotten when the headlines became focused more on a police investigation than the team’s opening game with Oregon.

The culprit getting the police’s eyes wasn’t some backup offensive guard like it is for most teams, but instead the spotlight was cast onto the team’s leader Jordan Jefferson.

Where other teams may have faltered, LSU showed resolve and won four-straight games without its quarterback (three against ranked foes), all by double digits.

Jefferson returned, but the adversity continued when three starters, including Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu were suspended for LSU’s game with Auburn because of a suspected failed drug test.

Coaching turnover, locker room drama – every distraction in the book thrown its way – LSU persevered and pulverized the competition without limitation.

So as Jan. 9 approaches, the talk will be on the Tigers’ rematch with Alabama and rightfully so – that’s going to be a whale of a game.

But let’s not forget for a second just how special this 2011 season has been for local college football fans.

Greatness has been around us.

And if the Tigers are able to finish the job and beat Alabama, LSU will be in rare air.

Perhaps a stratosphere that’s never been reached before in the modern era of college football.

Yes, these guys are that good.

Either way, they’ve done us all proud.

For what it’s worth, my pick is LSU 24, Alabama 14.

There’s nothing big, nor easy about facing LSU in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.