This was a great win. There's absolutely no other way to read this, though many have chosen to. I was in a media blackout yesterday and simply had no idea the negative opinion of LSU's win.
From Doc Saturday:
There are a lot of directions to go with this game -- a tale of two halves, a gangbusters finish with four touchdowns in the fourth quarter after none in the previous three, even officials thrusting themselves into the narrative with a pair of ludicrous celebration penalties down the stretch -- but the one that keeps coming back to me is the insistence by Lou Holtz, of all people, before the game that LSU just "knows how to win." That is abstract, easily-dismissed vagary, to be sure, but also an alarmingly accurate description for the Tigers' two go-ahead touchdown drives in the second half of the fourth quarter after an entire half spent MIA on offense.
That's the narrative I was expecting. You know, statistical analysts hate stuff like "know how to win", but this really is a team that knows how to win. LSU's mental toughness and lack of panic IS a skill, it's even an observeable skill.
From Team Speed Kills
Both teams challenged impartial observers to find anything praiseworthy about their offenses. They both alternated between incompetent and minimally competent. Even when they did something good -- see LSU's crucial TD to take a 12-7 lead -- they found some way to mess it up -- see the scrambled two-point conversion attempt that followed.
Not that the defenses did much better.
Did we watch the same game? Obviously, I'm not an impartial observer, but to call LSU's offense devoid of anything praise-worthy in the first half seems completely and totally off base. LSU's red zone offense was terrible, but the team moved the ball up and down the field and put together several sustained long drives. Normally, that leads to lots of points.
And I don't know how one couldn't praise LSU's defense after this game. Georgia's offense was completely ineffective in the first half, and probably LSU had something to do with that. Even when UGa scored, it needed either one of the best individual efforts you'll ever see or a gut-wrenching EIGHTEEN play 60 yard drive. Say what you will, but that's a defense that made the offense earn those points.
In the end, LSU preserved its perfection and set up a huge game next week in Baton Rouge with Florida by having the last say and taking advantage of Georgia’s inability to handle its prosperity. The Tigers are a shaky 5-0, but they are 5-0, and in this season where top-10 teams seem to relish the opportunity to get upset, that’s quite an accomplishment.
Wow. Talk about damning with faint praise.
And finally, The Sporting News:
Watching this SEC slugfest, a 20-13 road win for LSU, it's hard to imagine either the Tigers or the Bulldogs hanging with conference favorites Florida or Alabama.
Muck it up, turn it ugly and maybe there's a shot. Maybe.
No chance of a score-for-score competition. Don't let the frantic final offense-filled minutes fool you. The Gators or Tide would have had their first-stringers relaxing with their feet propped up long before either the Tigers or Bulldogs woke up Saturday.
Well, we'll certainly find that out next week.
I don't really require media validation of the win, but did I watch a different game than everyone else?
I saw an impressive win in which everything started to come together and most importantly, the team showed mental toughness late in the game. Maybe those close games were a blessing, because LSU played like a team used to tight football games. Even during the penultimate drive when LSU receivers kept dropping the ball or a big play got wiped away by penalty, LSU did not panic. The offense calmly reacted to every setback by just getting the next first down and eventually a touchdown.
If there is a team more mentally tough than LSU, I'd like to see them. This team has been under siege not just from the media, but their own fanbase. They have reacted like their coach, by refusing to panic. While some fans want Miles to rant and rave on the sideline more, I think that misses his biggest positive as a coach this season. This team just does not react to pressure.
To see what wilting under pressure looks like, see how Georgia reacted to the terrible flag after Green's touchdown. they made the situation worse by allowing a huge return. Just 30 seconds later in game time, LSU was hit by the same exact terrible penalty. Georgia still had nearly a minute to score. LSU reacted by stuffing the return and then picking off Cox's pass.
It's not the bad break, it's how you react to the bad break.