The LSU Tigers are watching the rest of the SEC fall short, except for the two teams which met last year in the national championship game… and Kentucky. The Bayou Bengals are noting that Auburn looks bad. They saw that Texas A&M did not look very convincing against Arkansas.
By Matt Zemek
They could not ignore that South Carolina has been profoundly disappointing through the month of September. They can tell that Mississippi State is struggling. There are only three SEC teams other than LSU which have delivered the goods so far this season, and Kentucky will be hard-pressed to continue winning at a high level.
LSU knows how great an opportunity it has to make a New Year’s Six bowl game. Everything is lining up for that scenario, which every LSU fan would have gladly taken before this season began.
Saturday in Week 6, the Tigers play the kind of game they HAVE to win if they want to reach this goal.
Let’s not mince words or avoid basic realities: LSU will have a tough time beating Georgia or Alabama, even in Tiger Stadium. Even though this season has gone extremely well, LSU is still on track to go 10-2, at least in the eyes of most observers. 10-2 will mean an NY6 bowl, but if LSU loses a game to teams other than Bama and Georgia, it will lose leverage and be boxed into a much more difficult situation. That sums up the meaning of this Florida game. LSU has to be ready to meet the moment.
1 – THE USUAL
Pancakes, eggs and black coffee? Hamburger with fries? Steak and a baked potato? “Give me the usual” has its applications at a restaurant, but it also has an application in a football context. For LSU, it can be only one thing: Don’t make the big mistake. That simple part of old-time football religion – football in the Bear Bryant era, football before Steve Spurrier started “pitchin’ it around the ballpark” at Florida in 1990 – has been LSU’s best friend this season. While Miami and Auburn coughed up the big giveaways, LSU hasn’t committed the key turnover which changes the balance of a close game in a negative way. The Tigers need to keep riding that game key. It hasn’t let them down thus far.
2 – DINK AND DUNK
Many SEC offenses need to hit the big play. South Carolina has struggled to hit big plays. Mississippi State’s beleaguered offensive line makes it more important for the Bulldogs to develop a quick-strike offense. MSU is not helped by having to slowly move the ball down the field. Its offense is not in a position to function that way.
LSU is different from most SEC teams in this regard. The Tigers are much better equipped to play dink-and-dunk offense than others. They don’t mind being patient. They don’t mind playing it safe. Their defense is far more than merely adequate. They are built to play physical, attritional football.
If this is a dink-and-dunk game, which means Florida doesn’t hit big plays, LSU should win if turnovers are equal.
3 – KICKING GAME
If LSU has no kicking game breakdowns to supplement zero turnovers, it’s hard to see how the Tigers will lose this contest.