This has been one of the most remarkable years of LSU football. We are nearing the close, and this team absolutely has to beat Georgia to validate this season -- winning the SEC means so much -- banners fly forever.
I do think this team will, like it has all season, come out focused and take care of business. Georgia is a quality team and they didn't make it to Atlanta by accident, but this LSU team knows it is playing for history. It has embraced this fact, and I fully expect the team to rise to the challenge again.
The key phrase here is "rise to the challenge". What makes this season so remarkable is not that LSU is poised to cap off its first undefeated regular season since 1958. What makes this season so remarkable is that it has done so despite seemingly overwhelming challenges.
Let's go back to the beginning of the season. Remember those two weeks leading up to opening kickoff? While LSU's blowout over Oregon now seems like it was such an inevitability, at the time, all of Tiger Nation was pretty damned nervous.
To review, here are the crappy things which happened to this team before opening kickoff:
1. The Shady's Incident, leading to the suspension of our starting QB
2. LSU is placed on probation, though the compliance department is cited for its positive efforts by the NCAA
3. Russell Shepard is suspended for "coaching" a witness in the investigation of his housing
4. Josh Dworaczyk, the team's best offensive lineman, is lost for the year due to injury
5. OC Steve Kragthorpe is diagnosed with Parkinson's.
That was perhaps the worst two week stretch in LSU football history in which a game was not played. Heck, I probably forgot a few things. Everything that could go wrong, did. And, if you remember, it took some of the joy away from the opening of this season.
If any team had an excuse to tank, it was the 2011 LSU Tigers. Faced with a brutal September schedule, LSU had its hands full before any of the additional adversity. Instead, it just kept piling on - bad news after bad news.
They could have whined and complained. They could have easily lost focus. They could have claimed persecution and thrown in the towel before the fight began.
But they didn't. We believed and this team rewarded that faith. Now, all of the honors and titles that go with success lie before this team for the taking. They just have to maintain that focus for two more games.
No excuses. This team has overcome so much and it has still proven itself to be the best team in the country. It doesn't matter what you throw at this team, they will rise to the occasion. That's what they have done all year, and they will do this Saturday as well.
This team wasn't supposed to go undefeated. They weren't supposed to win the SEC title. They weren't supposed to overcome all of those obstacles. Well, they have.
Nothing has been easy for this team. It has earned every single thing that has come to it. This year very easily could have been a disaster. With less mental toughness, it certainly would have been. While this team is extraordinarily gifted, it's greatest strength isn't physical ability. It is heart.
No matter what has gone on off the field, this team has shown up every Saturday and taken care of business. They will do so again against Georgia. This team knows it is playing against history, and history is undefeated. That ain't no thing for this team.
While Alabama sits back and slides its way into the title game through the back door, taking the easy road, getting rewarded for a close loss; this LSU team will smash through the front gates. Sure, we have to go the hard way. But we're better for it. If it were easy, it wouldn't be worth doing.
Geaux Tigers. Let's go out and make history.