Normally I wait until I publish my top 25 to go into detail about the previous week, but I think an exception is in order here.
If you want to see my rankings of all 124 teams, go here.
Before I go into that, a few things about LSU. I wanted to mention that I’ve updated and revised my LSU/Ole Miss “Go to Hell” rivalry entry. I will paste the final section onto the end of this blog. You can follow the link I just gave if you want see the whole thing.
This link compares Beckham’s punt return to Cannon’s and also shows part of the Les Miles press conference. Unfortunately, the beginning of Danielson’s comments was cut off. But he pointed out the end (I believe Jalen Collins) routed the outside members of the kicking team toward the middle and then directed Beckham to go around his left side and back toward the middle of the field.
If you haven’t seen it yet, Les Miles was on a particularly hilarious emotional rollercoaster after the game. A two-minute clip is included in the link above, but here is the whole thing.
BCS Title Race
Some might be shocked by Oregon’s and Kansas St.’s losses, but I’m not really. I told people they didn’t need to cheer for Alabama against LSU in order to keep an SEC team in the mix, and they just wouldn’t listen.
Oregon seems to run into a wall on offense at least once or twice a season. In 2009, they struggled against Boise St., UCLA (whose offense was so bad they couldn’t capitalize), and Ohio St., scoring 8, 24, and 17, respectively. In 2010, they struggled against Cal and Auburn, scoring 15 (in a win) and 19, respectively. Then last year, they only really struggled against LSU, scoring a respectable 27 points; but 14 of those points were scored in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Although they’re not completely out of it, it would require a few strange results to get them into the BCS championship game. First of all, I don’t see any way they make it without being conference champion, so this would mean that in addition to beating the Beavers, Oregon would need Stanford to lose to UCLA. UCLA has had its ups and downs and I would anticipate it won’t have the same intensity this coming week as it had Saturday in winning a sloppy game over USC.
Also, they would need the eventual SEC champion or Notre Dame to lose. That might be possible in some years, but I don’t see any way Alabama loses to Auburn or Georgia loses to Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech has some chance (but then Georgia would have to beat Alabama afterward), but Auburn is just too consistently bad lately to pull that one out. I give USC a fair chance to beat Notre Dame. Barkley may be out, but I’m sure USC has a QB or two to take his place. And it’s not as if you have to be a good team to test Notre Dame. USC is clearly better than BYU, Pitt, or Purdue, all of whom were within a field goal of the Irish. And those three teams were on the road.
Even if one of those two lose, it’s still not guaranteed. Voters could pick Florida instead. I mentioned the Gators’ qualifications already. Florida St. is #5 in the AP poll, so that may be more impressive than even a combination of Oregon St. and UCLA (who has clinched the Pac-12 South). Maybe if Oregon beat UCLA impressively enough, they would pass up the idle Gators, but don’t forget that Florida is #2 in the computers right now, so even if voting is close, Florida would probably still prevail.
I think it’s over for Kansas St. barring some 2007-like scenario. It’s one thing to lose by a lot or to lose to a team that isn’t very good, but to do both in the same game in mid-November is too much.
The only other team I can see making a case is Florida St., which can beat Florida and win the ACC to finish with only a single one-point loss (to N.C. St. on October 6). Some SEC fans and tough-schedule enthusiasts may say that a two-loss SEC team (of which there will almost certainly be at least one) or maybe Kansas St. should go ahead in that instance, but LSU, Texas A&M, and South Carolina all lost to Florida while Oklahoma, Kansas St’s best win, has lost in its only games against top teams. We don’t know if Georgia Tech is in the ACC title game, but either way if the Wreck beat Georgia, that’s going to make the ACC champion look better. Alabama can’t have two losses in the last few weeks of the season. But you have to scratch out so many teams to even get to this point, it’s far-fetched to even talk about.
I’ll talk about teams lower on the list and out of BCS-championship contention later in the week. Here is that section of the LSU/Ole Miss blog as promised.
2002 to present: Mostly nail-biters, mostly LSU wins
The Rebels played LSU during another late-season collapse of theirs in 2002 but still only lost at Tiger Stadium by 1. They went on to win their final game in the Egg Bowl then beat Nebraska in the Independence Bowl. LSU, with a chance to return to the SEC Championship, lost by 1 in Little Rock, sending it to the Cotton Bowl and a loss to Texas.
In the stoutest challenge the Tigers received in their national championship season (other than that from Ron Zook’s Gators, who beat LSU), the Rebels gave the Tigers all they could handle in a 17-14 loss at Oxford. It was Manning and the Rebels’ only loss in his last 9 games.
In 2004 at Tiger Stadium, the Tigers finally evened out Cutcliffe’s record at 2-2. Although LSU would win 9 games in Saban’s final season and Ole Miss would only win 4 in Cutcliffe’s final season, it was another 3-point game, 27-24. I mark the decision to fire Cutcliffe (which I disagreed with at the time) as the beginning of Ole Miss’s recent troubles.
2005, Les Miles’ first season, is the first of only three exceptions to the close-win pattern in this group as LSU won 40-9, their 8th win in a row.
In 2006, despite another lackluster season for Ole Miss and another 11-win season for LSU, the Rebels took the Tigers to overtime at Tiger Stadium. They accomplished this with a blocked extra point after what looked to be the winning drive by LSU. The Tigers avenged the 1998 loss, the only other in overtime, which was played at Ole Miss. Colt David, who had attempted the extra point, redeemed himself with a 26-yard field goal.
That had been the fourth of five contests decided by 3 points or less, but LSU did not lose one of them.
Ole Miss got a measure of vengeance with a big win in 2008 and the 2009 game which they barely survived.
Then of course, LSU got another close win in 2010. The Tigers trailed with just 44 seconds left, as Stevan Ridley scored to give LSU its third distinct lead of the fourth quarter and fourth lead of the second half. For the Tigers, this ended a three-game losing streak against Houston Nutt, dating back to the 50-48 triple-overtime win by Arkansas over the Tigers in 2007.
LSU then gave Houston a hell of a send-off with a 52-3 win in Oxford in 2011. It was both the most points either has scored in the state of Mississippi in the series (probably the most points LSU scored in a single game played in the state of Mississippi ever) and the largest margin of victory in series history by either team. The score was actually deceptively close as LSU did all it could to avoid scoring in the final possession. After a first-and-goal at the 1, the Tigers kneeled four consecutive times.
Ole Miss was 5-5 entering the 2012 game, and LSU was 8-2, but the Rebels were motivated. Ole Miss gave the Tigers a scare before LSU scored the winning touchdown with 15 seconds to go. The Rebels had led 28-20 after three quarters and 35-28 with 10 minutes to go in the game. The play of the game in my opinion was a Billy Cannon-esque 89-yard punt return down the right side of the field by Odell Beckham to tie the game at 35. Jalen Collins, who Beckham went around when he first went left and then went right, was also instrumental in the return. A couple of possessions later, the Rebels had a chance to take the lead after getting a first and 10 at the LSU 18 but after sacks ended up with a 4th and 30 and only a missed 53-yard field goal attempt to show for it. LSU would parlay the resulting field position into the winning touchdown drive. Although Ole Miss out-gained LSU 463-427 (this did not factor in the punt return), the LSU defense was good when it mattered, allowing Ole Miss to gain only one first down (not counting another by penalty) in its last four possessions.
It was the seventh time in the last 11 games in the series that the game was decided by 7 points or fewer. LSU also has 9 wins in those 11 games.