NCAA FB

LSU's key to title? Don't beat itself

Share This Story

Thayer Evans

Senior College Football writer Thayer Evans previously wrote for The New York Times and Houston Chronicle, as well as contributed to The Economist, USA Today, The Washington Post and more. Follow him on Twitter.

MORE>>
 
   
 

BATON ROUGE, La.

LSU’s national championship dreams were considered in danger before the season even started after a brawl outside a bar led to the suspension of then-starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

Some wondered if the Tigers’ title chances would go up in smoke Saturday against No. 20 Auburn after three players, including star cornerback Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu” and starting tailback Spencer Ware, were suspended this week after testing positive for synthetic marijuana.

NICE GEAR

New-style or old-style, uniforms and helmets were the talk of the town. Here are some of the most distinctive.

But with BCS No. 1 LSU’s 45-10 trouncing of overmatched Auburn before a crowd of 93,098 on Saturday, its doubters once again were silenced. The rout also reinforced what you already should have known about the Tigers.

They are the team to beat in college football this season, despite all of their off-the-field problems.

The only question now is: Can they avoid the one thing that can stop them?

Themselves.

I am not saying LSU wins at No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 5 in a game already being billed as the de facto national championship game. But if the Tigers do lose, it will be because they made mistakes, not because the Crimson Tide is the better team.

LSU’s players know this. Just like they already know whom to blame if they are not raising the BCS championship trophy in New Orleans on Jan. 9.

“It’s going to be our own fault,” defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. “It means we shot ourselves in the foot.”

LSU’s starters could have done that before Saturday’s game and Auburn still wouldn’t have won. The defending national champions are talented, but they are young and clearly rebuilding this season without former quarterback Cam Newton.

LSU’s blowout victory once again highlighted its stingy, physical defense, but it also demonstrated the Tigers' embarrassment of riches in depth.

Freshman tailback Kenny Hilliard rushed for a career-high 65 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. He entered the game with only five career carries.

Starting in place of Mathieu and over also suspended cornerback Tharold Simon, senior Ron Brooks returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown nearly midway through the third quarter. It capped a 21-point explosion in 2:24 that pushed LSU’s lead to 42-3.

And with redshirt sophomore defensive end Barkevious Mingo’s game-high two sacks Saturday, he is tied for the team lead with four.

LSU’s backups are so talented they probably could win a Big East championship on their own.

“It is a great piece of the team,” coach Les Miles said of his team’s depth.

But LSU’s suspensions this week are plenty of reason to wonder whether the Tigers can avoid beating themselves this season. After all, a lesson should have been learned when Jefferson and reserve linebacker Josh Johns were suspended for the first four games for their roles in a bar fight the night the Tigers broke preseason camp in August.

“We have to police our room,” Brockers said. “If you’re doing stuff like what’s happened, it’s hurting our goal.”

After Saturday’s win, LSU sophomore safety Eric Reid told reporters the three suspended players will be back for Alabama. When Miles was asked if he will have the trio for that game, he said he probably knew the answer but didn’t want to talk about them.

Translation: Forget those idiots right now. Let’s talk about the guys not being stupid.

“This team really, in several times in this year, has really gone beyond distraction, beyond what could be perimeter noise to focus and play,” Miles said. “When this team does that, I’m thrilled.”

But with Miles’ team struggling with discipline, he probably wouldn’t be thrilled to know Brooks called the three suspended players at halftime. Using his cell phone, he only got ahold of Mathieu, whose demeanor he described as “hurt.”

“I see you, blood,” Brooks recalled Mathieu telling him. “Keep playing hard. Just cherish being out there because you never know. Something could happen. Go back out there and play every play like it’s your last.”

Tiger Sports Digest

Want more in-depth coverage of LSU football? Check out insider information, forums and exclusive video on Tiger Sports Digest.

Not an LSU fan? Find your team at Scout.com.

So far this season, LSU’s off-the-field issues haven’t caused problems on the field. On Saturday, the Tigers carried out exactly what was written in red marker on a whiteboard before the game:

MEAN
TOUGH
NASTY
60 minutes

When the final seconds of the last of those minutes ticked away Saturday, LSU’s student section chanted, “We want 'Bama!” But with both teams off next week, that game is still two weeks away.

That’s plenty of time for something else to happen off the field and for LSU to get caught up in the hype of the showdown.

“We don’t think that we’ve hung the moon in any way,” Miles said. “We’re in position to achieve.”

Miles, of course, is talking about winning a national championship. And if his team doesn’t achieve one this season, it’s because it got in its own way.

Tagged: LSU, Auburn, Ron Brooks

More Stories From Thayer Evans

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash