"Hey, Reuben? You're awesome!" (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
If last year's Tennessee win was a metaphor for the season, so is this one albeit in a totally different way. Last year's game took about five years off my life and was perfectly described by the mantra: I don't believe in moral victories, so I refuse to believe in moral losses.
Yeah, that's not a problem this season.
LSU is absolutely killing teams. Sure, Tennessee is banged up and not exactly at full strength. But LSU went into one of the toughest venues in the nation, against a team that traditionally flat out owns LSU, and won by 31 points.
The Vols made it tough for a half. Let's give them credit, they played hard and found some of LSU's weaknesses and exploited it as best they could. They had two long pass plays over 30 yards, and they found plenty of success on inside runs. Conversely, LSU couldn't find any holes running into the middle of the Tennessee defense.
Tennessee wasn't just plainly outclassed or anything. LSU did not dominate the first half, though they did outplay Tennessee. In fact, the Tigers needed a late score to go into the half with a 10-point lead. And really, the Vols got a big stop there by forcing LSU to settle for a field goal. Tennessee could rightfully feel that it was self-inflicted wounds that had put LSU up.
But LSU got the ball first in the second half, drove down the field, and scored a touchdown. 24-7, and the game no longer felt like a nail biter.
On LSU's next possession, the offense started on its own one yard line. Denied good field position for about the first time all game, LSU went on a 16-play, 99-yard backbreaking drive. 31-7. LSU would score on its third, and final possession, of the game as well.
That is how you put a team away.
LSU touched the ball three times in the second half, and each drive resulted in a touchdown. Each drive took at least 10 plays and went at least 60 yards. The drives averaged about 7 minutes. It was just an epic display of dominance.
Honestly, I felt Tennessee played better in the second half. they stopped making the mistakes that killed them in the first. But LSU found another gear, and they just buried Tennessee. That was one of the best halves of football you will ever see. LSU turned a 10-point game into a rout over the course of three drives.
I keep waiting for the letdown game. The game in which LSU loses focus and has to scrap to the last second to hopefully eke out a victory. Maybe need another miracle flag like we saw last year. But it just hasn't happened.
LSU seemed lethargic in this game, and then I looked up at the scoreboard and suddenly it was 38-7. This game is what dominance looks like. LSU marched into Tennessee and came away with a blowout win. LSU hadn't won by double digits in Knoxville since 1988.
I guess it's time to change the record books again.
See, I made it the whole way through this thing without even mentioning the quarterback rotation. Let's beat that drum later because Les handled it perfectly today. The story of the game wasn't who was under center, but that every player contributed to the dominating win.
It's not Lee's team or Jefferson's team. It's everyone's team. It's Les Miles' team.