I know that my Sunday pieces are typically more analysis and note-driven, but we're going to take a break from that this week. For one, I forgot to set the game to record on my DVR, for another, this game was such a laugher that I'm not even really sure we can draw any real meaning from it. Hell, Ole Miss was even gracious enough to make the first couple of cuts in this blood-letting, and LSU had a 28-point lead before they even had much of a chance to break a sweat. The No. 1 team in the country dropped the hammer on a team that, aside from being the worst in the SEC, appears to have quit on its lame-duck coach.
Honestly, the only significant development out of this game on the field might have been the injury to Eric Reid with Arkansas in just five days. Still no real news on the severity of the injury, and history tells us we likely won't get any until Friday.
If there was something I took away from this game, it was further evidence of the Tigers' continued transformation into the ultimate football team. Not just a collection of talented players working together to win a game. The magnum opus of Les Miles and a perfect symphony of football dominance. A purple-and-gold Spartan phalanx of shields and spears, each man protecting his brother against wave after wave of attack.
There aren't many individual stars on this team. Sure, players like Rueben Randle, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Taylor and Sam Montgomery will receive some postseason honors. And Tyrann Mathieu has the cool nickname that everybody recognizes. But by and large, everybody gets into the act at some point. Five running backs combined for 308 rushing yards (with two quarterbacks, a wide receiver and a walk-on fullback chipping in another 45) on Saturday. Thirteen different defenders had three or more tackles, and backups like Ron Brooks, Barkevious Mingo, Lavar Edwards and even Derrick Bryant had noteworthy performances.
When we look back on this team, and we think about all the distractions, all of the adversity, including one of the toughest schedules LSU has played in my lifetime, this will be the defining characteristic. They have played as one through all of it. When one side of the ball has struggled, the other has picked it up. When the offense has sputtered, defense and special teams have helped create points. When the defense hasn't been on point, the offense has come out firing. Be it a momentum-shifting kickoff-return touchdown against West Virginia, backup running backs running roughshod over Auburn or two quarterbacks combining for one of the 10 best team passer ratings in the country, LSU has gotten this far because every facet of this football team has played together.
I'm fully aware of how hokey and clichéd this sounds, but you can't tell me it isn't true. Think about it. Who is the leader of this team? Who is the pace-setter? There isn't one. Everybody's taken a turn with the job, even the friggin' punter. People wonder whether there's some sort of quarterback controversy? Only on talk radio and message boards. This team doesn't care; they'll bust their asses and win for either Jarrett Lee OR Jordan Jefferson. This team doesn't have an Andrew Luck or a Cam Newton or a Mark Ingram that can carry a team on its back. So that means that everybody has to chip in. Only by playing together and for one another can they reach their goals this season.
And now, those goals are finally in sight. Beat Arkansas, win the West and go to Atlanta. Beat Georgia, and its back to the Superdome for a chance at immortality. A chance to go down as the greatest LSU football team in history. Will it all play out that way? I don't know. But I know this much. These Tigers will win, or lose, together as one.