"LSU is lucky."
We won't be hearing a whole lot of that over the next few days, as LSU thoroughly defeated one of the best teams in the country tonight. Now, there will be excuses, as there often are -- LSU benefited from big turnovers, the offense still looks dysfunctional, LSU actually had less yards of offense than Oregon -- and those excuses aren't entirely wrong.
This win wasn't perfect. It was at times so deeply flawed that victory seemed impossible. So let's get the bad stuff out of the way first, shall we?
Jarrett Lee looked pretty mediocre, and downright awful in the first quarter. His ATVSQBPI was a 4.60, which is not very good. He threw off his back foot, made some poor decisions, and generally didn't inspire a whole lot of confidence.
But his receivers were worse. None of the young receivers stepped up to help out Lee. Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry seemed to be in a competition of who could drop more balls.
Ummm.... I'm tapped out. The running game could best be described as "strudy". Not a lot of big plays, but the combination of Spencer Ware and Michael Ford slowly wore down the Ducks. The offense wasn't spectacular, but it didn't have to be. Given great field position all night, the offense took advantage of its opportunities. When LSU needed to score, the offense scored. Usually a touchdown.
The defense? My God, the defense looks great. This isn't some chump team, Oregon can move the football. And for the majority of the night, LSU shut down (or at least contained) the Oregon attack. UO had one terrific drive in the first half, which relied on five 3rd down conversions, but other than that, the Oregon offense sputtered until garbage time.
The defense was opportunistic, making huge plays when we needed it most. The defense blew this game open in the third quarter with big play after big play. It was an awesome feeling. The secondary is as good as advertised and this is still Defensive Line U. This was a statement win.
The special teams were dominant. T-Rex's fumble recovery changed the game early on, and kept the Tigers in the game while the offense found its legs. Brad Wing punted the crap out of the ball. OK, Drew Alleman missed a PAT, but that was the only black mark on a unit that completely dominated a unit widely regarded as one of the best in the country.
Some will find a way to pooh pooh this win. We should expect it by now. But Oregon is a great team which will likely win at least ten games, and LSU just took them to the woodshed. Sure, LSU needed big plays to do it, but that's how big wins happen. Had things broken differently in the third quarter, it could've been a totally different football game. This is a great team that just had some bad breaks that just got away from them tonight.
Most importantly, this team didn't let a team up off the mat. The biggest problem with LSU last season was failing to finish games. Repeatedly, LSU let defeated teams back into the game, leading to some of those "lucky" wins. This time, LSU got up big and then stayed up big. When Oregon cut the lead to 13, LSU responded and closed the door.
That's what great teams do. Oregon is a very good team. LSU, my friends, feels like a great team.