Intro and more on ASU (2005)
I wanted to write blogs on two separate occasions, but my work week did not allow me that.
If you want to see my top 25, please click here.
I’m not one of those “homer” types who likes to dwell on how great my team is, but I am impressed with the fact that LSU hasn’t lost a regular-season non-conference game since opening the 2002 season with a road loss to Virginia Tech (then ranked #16). The streak of 40 wins in such games broke the mark completed by Kansas St. in 2003.
Although there are certainly more daunting non-conference schedules around, LSU has put forth a serious effort to have at least one non-conference opponent that at appears to be formidable on paper every year.
The other record is more of a “personal best” as LSU has won 20 consecutive home games since the 13-3 loss to Tim Tebow’s #1 Gators in 2009. This is the only time in its history that LSU has won so many consecutive home games.
I wanted to go through them and talk in detail about some of the close calls and big games (some of which were not so close) during the longer streak.
This piece at “Nola.com” covers several of them, but I’ll mention a few more:
Nola.com includes this game, but I had mentioned the win over Arizona St. immediately after Katrina in my (LSU vs.) Pac-10 blog last week. I talked to an Arizona St. fan (I guess) in the comments on a site where I post my blogs. His memory was a bit different from mine, but I’ll just give the hard numbers I posted. I did subsequently realize that the list of scores on ESPN were not completely correct (they indicated a 7-0 LSU lead in the first quarter when in fact the first quarter was scoreless and ASU scored first), so I’ll post the corrected information of course…
other person: I don’t want to sound like sour grapes, but here is the full story of the LSU/ASU game. Yes the game was moved here (I live in the Phoenix area), but only after ASU agreed to let SEC officials call the game. It was not exactly a back and forth game, ASU (I believe) was ahead 31-17 going into the 4th quarter. Then all the phantom calls against ASU started occurring, and I mean a slew of them. Was the game fixed by the refs? I sure believe it was. By the way, I was there…
LSU was penalized 11 times for 100 yards while ASU was penalized 6 times for 31 yards.
I watched the game. Calls went both ways. Being there in person means you’re less likely to know what the correct calls were.
7-7 tie in second quarter, 10-7 ASU at halftime, 21-17 LSU with 13 minutes left, then two more lead changes as mentioned. I call that back and forth.
Actually I forgot a couple. Let me start over: 7-7 tie in second quarter, 10-7 ASU at halftime, 21-17 LSU with 13 minutes left, 24-21 ASU with 11 minutes left, 28-24 LSU with 8 minutes left, 31-28 ASU with 4 minutes left, then LSU scored the winning touchdown with about a minute left. The largest lead of the game was 10 (ASU 17-7).
2002 to early 2008
The other 2002 non-conference games weren’t anything special as LSU defeated the Citadel, Miami U. (that’s in Ohio), and UL-Lafayette.
Then in 2003, the closest thing to a seemingly tough game was LSU’s trip to Tucson, where many a Pac-10 team has struggled. But LSU, which went on to win the BCS championship, destroyed the Wildcats, 59-13. The Tigers also defeated Western Illinois, UL-Monroe, and Louisiana Tech that season.
In 2004, the highlight of the non-conference schedule was the first game of the season against Oregon St. This one did not disappoint as the Tigers came away with a home win, 22-21 in overtime. This was also mentioned in detail both by Nola.com and in my Pac-10 blog. Also in 2004 was one of two close calls against Troy during the streak, with the Tigers winning this one, 24-20. Troy actually led with two minutes and 18 seconds left, when Marcus Randall threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to David Jones that turned out to be the game-winner. 2004 was only an 11-game regular season, so the only other game was a win over Arkansas St., the only breather of the three, 53-3.
2005 of course started with another Pac-10 team, Arizona St., as mentioned. The other two wins (another 11-game regular season) were Appalachian St. and North Texas. With the postponement of North Texas from Week 1, these two games turned out to be a welcomed breather between overtime wins over Auburn and Alabama on LSU’s way to the SEC title game in Les Miles’ first season. The Mountaineers (who I believe took the place of Virginia Tech when the Hokies delayed the second leg of the home and home) kept the LSU offense in check for a while but it was hard for them to make much of a game of it when the LSU defense shut them out, 24-0. The North Texas game wasn’t remotely interesting, however, 56-3.
In 2006, LSU had already had the second leg of the Arizona home and home scheduled (which they would win easily) and when a 12th game was added, the Tigers arranged this with the Fresno St. squad that had given USC all it could handle in Los Angeles the year before. Fresno St. had a reversal of fortune that season, however, so LSU won what in hindsight should have been an automatic win anyway. LSU also defeated Tulane and UL-Lafayette that season. Except for Fresno St. (a 32-point win), LSU won each of the other non-conference games that regular season by 42 points apiece.
2007 featured the long-awaited second leg of the Virginia Tech home and home, but the Hokies looked much like one of the also-rans in 2006 in a 48-7 loss in the second game of the year. LSU also had wins of 40+ points over Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Tech. The Tigers would have the most trouble in the only non-conference road game of the season, against Tulane in the Superdome. The Green Wave only trailed 10-9 at halftime, but the speed/talent gap was too much in the second half, as LSU would win, 34-9.
In 2008, LSU would start off with easy wins over Appalachian St. and North Texas in what turned out to be a very difficult transition year in which the Tigers lost 5 games and were only 5-3 at home. It was nearly 4-4 though.
After LSU suffered a heart-breaking overtime loss to then-#1 Alabama, Troy came to town to play a game that had been postponed due to Hurricane Gustav. Troy and LSU both entered the game at 6-3, but Troy apparently had a lot of confidence from being 4-1 in conference and LSU obviously wasn’t doing very well in the SEC.
The end of the first half had really exemplified the first three quarters of the game and much of the Tigers’ season that year. Troy took a manageable 17-3 lead in the early part of the second quarter, but then (in a situation that Tigers fans can hardly avoid recalling upon hearing his name), Jarrett Lee threw a touchdown to the wrong team with just under 7 minutes left in the half. LSU had a chance to get within 18 with a 43-yard field-goal attempt as the half ended, but the snap was dropped, and the score remained 24-3.
The Trojans led, 31-3, late in the third quarter. The already-dispirited crowd had left the stadium nearly empty, but the Tigers wouldn’t go down without a fight.
When LSU finally scored (on a Jordan Jefferson run) with about 90 seconds left in the third quarter, it had been about 35 minutes that the Tigers had been held scoreless. LSU had to know it had a chance just a few minutes later when after beginning at their own 14, the Tigers had a 6-yard run. Then, consecutive completions of 9, 33, 5, and 33 yards brought the Tigers to within 14 with 14 minutes to play. Les Miles would later take the blame for not allowing LSU to air it out more, although that had been problematic in a number of SEC games.
Troy would not manage another first down until its final drive. This gave LSU good field position. In the next possession, the Tigers took over at the 40 and Lee threw four more completions in consecutive plays to give LSU a first-and-goal, and the Tigers would run it into the end zone. Barely a minute later, Chad Jones intercepted a pass by the Troy quarterback to give LSU another short field. This resulted in a field goal, narrowing the deficit to just 4 points.
In its next possession, LSU took over at midfield and couldn’t do a thing on offense. But the Troy return man fumbled a short punt of only 30 yards, and LSU recovered. After a false start, the LSU offense returned to its early-4th-quarter form and finally took its first lead with a touchdown. The extra point was missed, but it wouldn’t matter as Troy once again did nothing on offense, and LSU took over at the Troy 34. Except for one yard, Charles Scott almost ran the ball in himself as LSU went up by 9 to all but seal the game for LSU with 1:40 to go.
2009 to present
I had written in detail about some other major games, but the hours I spent on that were wasted with a computer malfunction. I saved the document several times since an auto-save a few hours ago, but somehow the auto-saved version became the document, so it’s all gone except for what you see above and what’s in my head.
The other major game I wanted to draw attention to was the North Carolina game to begin the 2010 season. This was almost the opposite of the Troy game as LSU led 30-10 at halftime but stopped scoring and (after they should have been able to run out the clock) gave UNC chances to win from the 6-yard-line in the final moments. The play-by-play and game stats can be found here. UNC quarterback T. J. Yates threw for almost 100 more yards than LSU had as a team running and passing, but this is deceptive because of LSU’s special teams play in that game. Also, a passing offense generally has to come up with more yards to just keep pace with a good rushing offense. North Carolina’s only lead was 10-7, and that’s when a couple of key fumbles took place (one of them led directly to a safety), and LSU special teams set up a couple of one-play touchdown drives. Granted, they were good long plays in their own right, but it’s easier to score from the 50 than from your own 10. North Carolina had its own long one-play drive, a 97-yard touchdown pass.
I just don’t have the energy at this point to give a decent game story and highlight the major plays and players all over again. I wanted to get this out before the new playing week began.
There were also close but less-than-thrilling contests against Louisiana Tech in 2009 and West Virginia in 2010.
The Louisiana Tech game wasn’t too special. Derek Dooley’s Bulldogs, despite struggling that season, led LSU 13-10 at the half but could only come with a single field goal in the second half in a 24-16 loss. Tech did win some battles on the stat sheet: total yards (322-246), passing yards (144-105), rushing yards (178-141), first downs (23-15), and time of possession (36:20 to 23:40). LSU had only two third-down conversions (and was 0-1 on fourth down), but faced half as many third downs as Tech had. The Bulldogs were 3-4 on fourth down. Tech was penalized for 30 more yards. Neither team turned the ball over. The game was unspectacular enough on offense to lose Jarrett Lee his job as starting quarterback until the Oregon game last year.
West Virginia (back to 2010) only had one drive on the LSU side of the field in the last 22 minutes of that six-point game, and that one drive resulted in a missed 48-yard field goal attempt. After LSU had taken a 17-0 lead, the Mountaineers did get within 3 in the early third quarter with a 15-yard touchdown drive (resulting from a Jordan Jefferson interception), but WVU didn’t touch the ball the last 7 minutes in the third quarter. In the two drives after the missed field goal (in the third-to-last drive of the game), the Mountaineers netted only 6 yards combined, and in one of those possessions, LSU was penalized 5 yards for an illegal substitution. The ‘eers had 58 rushing yards on the game, about twice as many as UNC had had against the Tigers earlier that season.
Last season, of course, LSU beat West Virginia again (by 26 in Morgantown) after beating Oregon by 13 in Jerry World. The Oregon game wasn’t really that close (LSU led by 20 on two separate occasions in the fourth quarter after leading by 17 after 3 quarters). Oregon only led for about 5 minutes in the whole game, and WVU never led. The best the Mountaineers did was get within 6 late in the third quarter, but 16 seconds later, Mo Claiborne ran back the kickoff to put LSU back up 13. LSU would score 17 total unanswered to end the game. Both the Ducks and the Mountaineers would go on to win BCS bowls, but you wouldn’t have known it by those performances, not that the Tigers didn’t deserve a bit of credit.
Nothing to write home about schedule-wise this year. Washington may turn out to be a decent team. As indicated by some of these results, one can lose to LSU by significant margins and still turn out to be very good later on. Then the Idaho game will only be remembered for setting the record really. Of course, neither game was interesting by any rate. North Texas was the opener, that’s about all I have to say for that.
I’m not expecting too much drama from the Towson game next week, although another FCS team, McNeese St., gave LSU problems in what turned out to be a 22-point Tiger win in 2010.
The Tigers plan to welcome TCU to Tiger Stadium next season, scheduled for September 7, so that might be the next time the streak is put in serious jeopardy. The only game scheduled for 2014 so far is Georgia Southern, and then in 2015, LSU will play Arizona St. in the home and home that was supposed to start in 2005. It ended up being a single charity game thanks to Hurricane Katrina. Other future regular-season non-conference opponents scheduled are, tentatively (such arrangements of course get canceled with much less than 6 years’ notice), North Carolina St. and Oklahoma.