Yesterday we saw the best of SEC teams and the worst of them. It was a kind of watershed weekend in the season where some teams who were looking defeated rose up powerfully, and others who had been dominant seemed to waver.
Of course, the big game was the LSU/Alabama game, which was as utterly schizophrenic and with as many twists and turns as any Hollywood movie writer could ever concoct. LSU looked totally dominant in most of the first half, then went on an insane penalty binge which saw Alabama completely take over the momentum and actually take the lead at the half.
The third quarter was a hard-fought push with both teams scoring on long drives. But the 4th quarter belonged to LSU, as it has almost every single time this season against every determined foe. Once again, Les Miles was fearless in his calls, even while his players were flawed in their execution, and arguably, their sportsmanship, racking up an otherworldly 130 yards in penalties, many on personal foul penalties that included roughing the passer, intentional facemasking, and and angry lineman ripping off his helmet after being called for an illegal shift.
Still, anyone who isn't impressed with a team who overcame an astonishing number of penalties and 3 interceptions to win in quite possibly the most hostile environment in the SEC is either dead, or an Ohio State fan. Of course, Dan Wetzel has been impressed with LSU all season, but really gets the significance of this win:
LSU is 8-1, back in the top two in the BCS, and incredibly dangerous. If it gets a title chance, then this is the most fearsome team in the country because if it can ever play minus the mistakes it is virtually unbeatable.People who have watched the SEC have known this all year, just as many of us doubted that any team, even powerful LSU, could manage to go through an SEC as tough as this years' unscathed. Maybe we wouldn't have picked Kentucky to undo their perfect season, but frankly, there just isn't a lot separating most of the SEC teams this year. The middle of the league is very crowded, and very competitive.
The Alabama bloggers, understandably, have little to say after a tough loss. The Tide Druid offers a bit of humor to assuage the injured pride of the Alabama faithful.
Understandably, the LSU faithful are jubilant. New Orleans Love lists five reasons why LSU came away the victor, including this one sure to arouse a bit of ire in the Saban supporters:
5. NICK SABAN WAS OUTCOACHED: Les has got Balls of steel. And can we coach better than Saban? Well, he beat him. Why? Because Saban played a straight game. Saban saw in the first half that his team was not physical enough for the Tigers, not mano-o-mano, but he didn't go into his bag of tricks. Les, on the other hand, reached down into his bag and had quarterback Matt Flynn catch a nifty pass from the receiver Doucet. Even late in the game, knowing he didn't have a running game, he did no counters, no misdirections. It cost him. Big time. He got outcoached.Richard Pittman of Geaux Tuscaloosa echoes my comments earlier in this post:
I don't want to get too caught up in criticism. Fact is, we went on the road in the SEC to a very hostile environment and we came away with a win. In a year like this, any SEC game you win should be satisfying. Heck, any SEC win should be satisfying, even if it's not on the road. This is a season in which Ole Miss took Florida AND Alabama to the wire, and they haven't actually won a conference game.Obviously, I agree.