Tuesday, January 8, 2008

LSU Vindicates the SEC and Les Miles Mouth

I have taken a long two weeks off from blogging, but it is time for me to salute the LSU Tigers, champions of the BCS.

In many ways, the outcome of this game was predetermined by Ohio State's fast start. It was a moderate improvement by Ohio State, but except for the first quarter, there was never really any doubt who the best team was. Despite this, LSU made a few poor decisions and mental errors that could have cost them dearly. But alas for Ohio State, LSU was able not only to recover from their mistakes, but to play very clean football while the famously poised Buckeyes took no less than five major penalties, every one of them personal fouls and every one of them costly.

Nobody can argue with Les Miles now. I think we can all safely say that when he said of the Pac-10, "They're going to play real knockdown, drag-outs with UCLA and Washington, Cal-Berkeley, Stanford - some real juggernauts," he nailed it. How is a comment about the Pac-10 relevant to this game? If you think it was only intended for the Pac-10, I think you are mistaken. That was meant for the ears of every non-SEC FBS team.

And the SEC? All the SEC has done is delivered two BCS championships in a row, both over Ohio State in convincing fashion, and the BCS championship 4 out of the 10 years of its existence, two more than any other conference. The SEC also went an astonishing 7/9 in all its bowl games, dropping only 1 BCS bowl out of 3, including the BCS championship. SEC fans have been utterly vindicated in every meaningful way when they asserted their superiority over the rest of the nation's football conferences. For at least the last 2 years, and arguably for the last 5 or 6, the SEC can lay claim to being the best college football conference in all the land.

Congratulations to the LSU Tigers for bringing the crystal back to the conference where it may well stay for most of the next decade, and where it truly belongs -- with the best football conference in the land. Looking forward, the SEC is likely to have 2 and possibly 3 teams ranked in the top five pre-season next year, and as many as 8 in the pre-season top 25. Pretty sweet.

So now, it's time for some comments from the LSU bloggers, who are probably much hung-over this morning from celebration last night.

And The Valley Shook says this wasn't all about SEC speed:

Clearly, the SEC Speed thing was overblown. Best I can tell, no one saw it coming (with the exception of SMQ and possibly Pete Fiutak at CFN): the SEC isn't a bunch of Nancy Boys who can only outrun other teams to victory; LSU, at least, can win - and has won - by simply being more physical.
That is simply indisputable. Clearly, Ohio State had speed. LSU won this game with speed in the defensive secondary and power in both lines, as well as overall athleticism. This game was as much about LSU power as it was anything else.

Louisiana Love notes Harry Coleman's nearly flawless performance all over the field:
What didn't reserve safety Harry Coleman do for LSU's defense? In the first quarter, the sophomore from Baldwin, La., recovered a muffed punt return by LSU's Chad Jones at the Tigers' 16. In the second quarter, Coleman blitzed and hit Boeckman, forcing him to underthrow a pass down the left sideline. Cornerback Chevis Jackson intercepted the pass and returned it 34 yards to the Ohio State 24, setting up the touchdown that put LSU ahead 24-10 at the half. Coleman added another fumble recovery early in the fourth quarter, after linebacker Ali Highsmith drilled Boeckman on a fourth-down play.
The kid was simply everywhere, all the time. It was a game-long highlight reel. Richard Pittman at Geaux Tuscaloosa calls the game "fairly boring."

How did the rest of the SEC bloggers see the game? Predictably, as a win for the SEC, which it was. Cocknfire at Garnet and Black Attack could speak for many:
There is a sense of pride in this conference. One Wisconsin fan I know was astonished that I root for every SEC team -- except, of course, Georgia -- when it comes to bowl games. He could never see himself rooting for Michigan or Ohio State. He seemed to see this as a uniquely Southern phenomenon.
It does seem passing strange to me that conference affiliation seems to be much weaker in other conferences. I would have assumed that all conference's fans were similar in the respect that they pulled for their conference first, except for rivalries. This is anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

Ryan Ferguson, writing for Fanhouse, says that even though preparation is usually the difference, it wasn't so in this game:
How did LSU win this game? First, from top to bottom, they simply fielded better players. QB Matt Flynn easily outplayed and outmanaged Todd Boeckman. LSU's offensive and defensive lines controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game. LSU's receivers were faster and more physical, and made big plays when it really mattered.
Indeed. At then end of the day, it was all about who brought the talent, and LSU had more, especially in the trenches where championships are won and lost. LSU's lines simply pushed the much-vaunted OSU "big uglies" around all night. And if that wasn't enough, OSU's receivers were simply out-athleted by LSU's secondary in one of the biggest athletic mismatches, offense to defense, I can remember. It is truly a wonderful thing when you don't have to play zone in the secondary, and you can send extra people flying into the backfield at the quarterback. The game just becomes so much easier.

Henry Gomez at Saurian Sagacity wonders what could be more embarrassing than losing two consecutive BCS championships by lopsided margins:
What could be more humiliating than losing two consecutive BCS SHAM-pionships to SEC teams by a combined score of 79-31?


PS, LSU has scored 265% more than OSU allowed per game this year. LSU has scored 10 more points than Illinois which had the previous high-water mark against OSU this season with 28.
Ouch, indeed.

Kyle King of Dawg Sports, in a post before the game, goes all Rodney King on us:
On this, the night of the B.C.S. national championship game, I interrupt my review of the Mark Richt record to offer a few words in defense of interconference unity. I have tried and tried to promote good relations between the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference, which is an objective in which some Big Ten fans are interested but others evidently are not.
I think interconference love is fine, as long as every other conference in America acknowledges the obvious fact of SEC football superiority. I'm certainly willing to acknowledge the accomplishments of other conferences -- as soon as they actually have any.

King notes for the record that Ohio State was anointed into this game last year and, for all intents and purposes, this year as well, while the Tigers had to fight, claw and scratch their way through superior competition just to have the right to prove the obvious fact that at least two and arguably three SEC team could have won this game.

Finally, we go for the record to the camps of non-SEC bloggers, and breathe deep of schadenfreude as they tread the sour grapes of defeat into the wine of misery. Mike at Card Chronicle will lead the way:
One of the most memorable college football seasons of all-time will come to a close tonight with a game that will undoubtedly be overwhelmingly forgettable. If LSU wins, then a two-loss team that fell to 6-7 Arkansas and 8-5 Kentucky will be deemed more deserving a national champion than two one-loss teams (one of which won a BCS game), and five other two-loss teams. If Ohio State wins, then it will be a team that defeated a grand total of one ranked opponent (Outback Bowl loser Wisconsin) in the regular season that will be crowned as the nation's best.
I can scarcely recall a post anywhere so disrespectful of a team's on-the-field accomplishments. I think Mike is trying to somehow escape the fact that bitter rival Kentucky defeated the football Cardinals who provided new meaning to the term "overmarket and underperform" coined by UK president Lee Todd of a couple years back. Rather than acknowledge that LSU's victory here validates not only Kentucky's victory over Louisville, but the entire SEC, he would rather just say "feh."

The Buckeye Blog wrote a redemption post before the game, proved pretty prescient, at least in part:
This game will come down to defense. The Buckeyes have one of the best in the land and I believe they will shock the LSU offense coming out of the gate. If LSU can adjust, we have a game on our hands. Likewise, a healthy Glenn Dorsey will give the Buckeye offense a run for their money. The offensive line needs to get on him early to give Wells the running room he needs.
The game did come down to defense -- LSU's. The Buckeyes did shock the Tigers early. The O-line did get Wells off early. Almost all that he hoped for came to pass -- in the first half of the first quarter. The rest went, well, less according to his script.

Some Buckeye fans have so far decided to take the high road. Men of the Scarlet and Gray writes:
As for LSU, I hope the media gives them the props they deserve. None of this “yeah-but-USC” argument. Any team that puts up 31 unanswered points against the best defense in college football is, without question, the best in the country.
Indeed. This is a classy post by a classy blog. The "USC is better" meme will no doubt be repeated endlessly, and not without at least the thinnest connection to reality. Unfortunately, because we still have no form of playoff as we have lamented many, many times, and since the Pac-10 as well as the Big Ten are adamantly opposed to a playoff or "plus one" game, I'd say it's fitting they are hoist on their own petard. Still, lemming-like, we will see many in the media dutifully vote USC as the number one team, regardless of tonight's result. They may even be voted #1 by the AP. It wouldn't surprise me in the least, especially after their "traditional" bowl format provided them with an overmatched opponent for them to crush.

And lest you not take my word for it, perhaps you'll accept that of the Southern Cal blog Conquest Chronicles, who writes:

Today there are some who seem to think that SC would actually have a claim to a split title depending on the outcome of tonight's BCS title game against Ohio State and LSU.

For those who would actually pine for a split title I would say...STOP IT!

We don't deserve it and it shouldn't happen. From the Baton Rouge Advocate via Wolf's blog:

J. Barker Davis of the Washington Times isn't buying it.

"Georgia -- just beat the lamest BCS team in history," Davis said. As for USC, whose 24-23 home loss to 4-8 Stanford was one of the season's biggest stunners, "The Trojans did less with more than any team in the nation this season and should be ashamed for having the audacity to do any stumping after the Stanford debacle."

What can I say? The guy is right on the dot, and it is very forthright of him to say so.

I expect to have more later today, but I make no promises. Blogging for me is a "when I have time for it" activity these days.


Dave said...

If you go back and watch it, you'll find that in last year's title game Florida also won by being more physical than Ohio State.

Jim said...

Congratulations and yeah, I had it right for the first quarter.

One question though, what is up with the SEC trolls you guys send out?

I met them for the first time last year and sure enough, there they are again, leaving comments all over the Ohio State blogs.

Not even Michigan fans are that bad. I mean really, if the SEC is such a great conference at least act like you've been there before.

Regardless, LSU had a great year. Congratulations and enjoy. We'll be back gunning for you again next year.


BestofSEC said...

I don't know where we get some of our wackier fans. Same crappy hole everyone else does, I guess.

Good luck next year, AnnapolisBuckeye. Should be fun.