LSU, amidst swirling coaching rumors (as of this morning likely answered), travels to Atlanta today for its 2nd SEC Title Game appearance in 3 years, this time against the Tennessee Volunteers. Here's hoping we have better success than we did in 2005. Rocky Top Talk has been covering this all week long from the Vols' perspective, so head over there for some of their thoughts.
We LSU fans are wildly disappointed after having controlled our national title destiny a week ago. All isn't lost though; a win tonight givses us our first outright SEC Title since 2003, and a win in the Sugar Bowl (over, say, Hawaii?) will deliver us a second consecutive Top 5 finish. Not bad for a coach riding off into the sunset.
Tennessee has had an up and down season, but it's been all up for the last five games after a 4-3 start to the year. The current stretch includes a 34-13 demolition over the very Hogs who ran roughshod through our defense last week. If Erik Ainge is healthy, expect him to pick apart our defense, which has proven itself over the past month to be rather overrated. Injuries have taken their toll, and some coaching decisions have been questioned (i.e. wherefore art thou, 4th and 10 blitz against Casey Dick? If only we could have you back!!), but on the whole ours is still a respectable unit.
Ryan Perrilloux will start, giving us a view towards the future and yet again more jitters about how this team will come out in the first half. It's been a string of excruciatingly flat first halves that dates back to the South Carolina game; even against Louisiana Tech (a 58-10 victory) we didn't really roll up the numbers until very late in the 2nd quarter. This week, with RP at the helm, it'll be as important as ever that we at least come out strong enough to keep him from having to play from behind all game. Despite his talent, a signal caller as inexperienced as he would have all sorts of problems executing under those circumstances; at least the crowd ought to be roughly neutral!
I'll be at a friend's place watching, so won't be commenting during the game. I'll have more thoughts afterwards.