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Saturday, October 10, 2009


BATON ROUGE - There was an interesting question at Les Miles press conference Monday.

Basically, it centered on the premise that LSU's next game is bigger than tonight's matchup between No. 1 Florida and No. 4 LSU. Others have asked the same question and brought up the same premise. I heard another writer bringing it up Wednesday.

It's interesting, but it's an example of thinking too much and trying to be cute and different to be cute and different. It's a mindset that has trouble with true and false tests because of over-analysis.

LSU coach Les Miles was put aback by the question, paused and delivered one of the best answers he ever has.

"There's a game after this? The only thing I'm focused on is this very next opponent," Miles said. "It's a very consuming task, and we're not looking to the bye week and those teams that we play thereafter. It's all about this Saturday."

All coaches focus only on the next game or say that. But this is one week where coachspeak makes sense.

The eggheads point to LSU's next game - Oct. 24 at home against possibly undefeated Auburn - as a bigger game than tonight's LSU-Florida "undercard" because the Auburn game matters more toward the Southeastern Conference West and thus reaching the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta in December. Wow, aren't you smart!

I understand the point, but don't be stupid.

Yes, the LSU-Auburn game is bigger than the LSU-Florida game if LSU's goal is to just get by, win the West and make it to Atlanta like Tennessee did in 2007. If making it to Atlanta is the only goal, then it doesn't matter if LSU is not ranked at the time. So then it doesn't matter if LSU loses to Tulane and Louisiana Tech, then LSU could just use those games to practice new plays and strategy for its West games the following weeks at Alabama and at Ole Miss. Miles could let Russell Shepard play the whole game at quarterback. Who cares how many times he fumbles or is lifted into the air by tacklers.

Because if the Auburn game is bigger than the Florida game then the Tulane and Tech games are meaningless. See what happens when you think too much.

But if LSU wants to soar into Atlanta as the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the nation with a shot at another national championship, tonight's game is this week's game of the century. Elite teams that compete for national championships don't think about divisions. Those get won in the process. I never forget while covering Alabama in 1994, the Tide beat Ole Miss to clinch the West and no one realized it until somebody did the math on Monday. Bama wasn't thinking about the West. It was thinking about the national championship.

Tight end Richard Dickson was asked the same ridiculous question.

"I didn't know we played Auburn next week," said Dickson, who also doesn't seem to realize that LSU is off next week. This is a good thing. The only thing on his mind is beating Florida. Smart kid. Doesn't think too much when he doesn't need to.

"This will be the biggest game of my career," Dickson said.

Right again, young man. Or at least until No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 LSU meet with those rankings for the first time in history on Nov. 7 in Tuscaloosa. THAT could be a bigger game than LSU-Florida and wil definitely be bigger than LSU-Auburn.

Big games are judged by how much winning it changes your season. This is where the rankings come in. An LSU win over No. 1 Florida will drastically change LSU's season. It will put the Tigers into the national championship race, because right now no one is really talking about LSU in that way. A win over lower ranked Auburn by an undefeated LSU team in two weeks would just keep LSU where it already was as would a win over Tulane the next week.

If you lose a smaller game like Auburn or Tulane, it drastically changes your season the other way, but winning it doesn't get you beyond where you already were. You just keep serve. This is why tonight is THE GAME. An LSU win means LSU has serve for another national title.

A good thing about huge games like this is that even if you lose it, it's not the end of the world.

This is why LSU should schedule USC early in a season. Even if it loses, it gets poll cred for playing the game and has all season to make up for it. If LSU loses tonight, it could still win out - it will have to beat Alabama anyway - and could play Florida again. And if it wins, it's where it would be if it wins tonight. So yes, this game carries within it a Mulligan, but that does not make it any less a game. It's just early enough in the season that both teams can make up for it. When you're in the best league in the land, you get Mulligans. That's just how it works.

And no one knows for sure if LSU will play Florida again after tonight, so each team better think it needs to take care of business tonight. So, again, THIS is THE GAME. LSU, meanwhile, will probably never get a chance to play Florida again this season without Tebow, so it needs to take advantage of it.

So don't think too much. THIS is THE GAME.

I think the 150,000 or so moving in as we speak to surround, then occupy Tiger Stadium by sundown would agree with me. They won't be there to swap there Florida tickets for Auburn tickets.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's be honest: at the start of this season, no one expected LSU to beat FL. A 5-0 start, however, got people to thinking - maybe ...

Back to reality: no one expects LSU to beat AL, either, so LSU needs to help to even think about winning the West. Ole MIss did not help them by losing to AL.

This team does not have a championship caliber O or D line, nor QB. Let's be happy if: LSU beats Auburn, Ole Miss, and Ark. A 10-2 season is not bad, but it won't get LSU into the BCS championship this year.

4:07 AM  

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