NCAA
Rivalry Series: LSU-Kentucky
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA COLLEGE FOOTBALL FLORIDA KENTUCKY LSU

Series facts

LSU leads, 39-16-1
In Baton Rouge, LSU leads, 23-5-1
In Lexington, LSU leads, 16-11

Currently, LSU has won three in a row at home and five of six in the series overall. Also, in three of the last five and four of the last eight games in the series, four points or fewer separated the two teams in regulation.

Longest home/away streaks
Home winning streak Ė LSU, 12 games, 1955-1975
Home unbeaten streak Ė LSU, 13 games, 1953-1975
Road winning streak Ė LSU, 5 games, 1978-1986

Kentucky won two in a row at home 3 times, 1954-6, 1974-6, and 1993-5. The Wildcats never won consecutive games in Baton Rouge.

Highest-scoring games:
LSU 63, @Kentucky 28, 1997
@Kentucky 43, LSU 37 (3 OT), 2007
Kentucky 39, @LSU 36, 1998
LSU 33, @Kentucky 30, 2002
LSU 29, @Kentucky 25, 2001

Lowest-scoring games:
@Kentucky 3, LSU 0, 1960
LSU 7, @Kentucky 0, 1962
LSU 9, @Kentucky 0, 1959
@LSU 10, Kentucky 0, 1972 and 1985

Largest margins of victory:
@LSU 49, Kentucky 0, 2006
@LSU 34, Kentucky 0, 2000
LSU 30, @Kentucky 0, 1966
LSU 37, @Kentucky 10, 1969
@LSU 41, Kentucky 14, 1996
LSU 34, @Kentucky 7, 1952

Largest Kentucky wins over LSU:
Kentucky 33, @LSU 13, 1977
Kentucky 19, @LSU 0, 1949


Historical Narrative (skip to the last section for recent games)

I mentioned in the last blog that I had done this same basic blog before on TSN. I believe that blog was done before the 2007 game. That will be one of three specific games Iíll talk about in detail, but first I just wanted to cover the major developments in the history of the rivalry.

Before the SEC went to the 5-1-2 scheduling system (Iíll explain) in 2003, LSU had played Kentucky in 51 consecutive seasons. There were only two games before that streak began, but I suspect the annual nature of the game was because neither team had particularly clear rivals in the SEC. Kentuckyís closest rival is Tennessee, but the Vols have bigger rivalries with both Vanderbilt and Alabama.

That LSU-Kentucky streak of games began in the waning days of Tulaneís membership in the SEC. The only other must-play conference rivals for LSU were Mississippi St. and Ole Miss, at that time the only SEC schools in neighboring states. Florida andAlabama didnít become annual series for LSU until 20 years later.

The head coach of Kentucky the first time the Wildcats played LSU was none other than Bear Bryant, who always seemed to give the Tigers trouble. His teams shut out the Tigers the first two times he faced them, before LSU beat Kentucky in his second-to-last season there and tied them in his last.

Bryantís successor had three decent years after he left (I guess until the talent dried up), and the Wildcats beat the Tigers two of the next three seasons to go out to a 4-2-1 series lead in 1956.

The 1950s were not particularly good for LSU until 1958 though. LSU was #1 again for most of 1959, so they beat Kentucky for the third straight time that year. Kentucky got one back in 1960 (both teams were barely above .500 that season) but then lost the next 13 games in a row in the series. The Tigers have had a commanding lead in the series since then.

LSU had a winning record every year during that time, but Kentucky only had one.

The Wildcats won three out of four from 1974 to 1977, but the Tigers lost 4 games or more in each of those years. Kentucky also had a little bit of a revival during that time, building up to a 10-1 season in 1977.

Ten of the next 11 were won by LSU. while Kentucky went back into the pattern of having a losing record almost every year (although not as badly). The Wildcats beat the Tigers during one of only two winning records over that period, 1983, one of the worst LSU seasons since that 1958 national championship.

LSUís next 4-7 season was in 1989, and that was the next loss to Kentucky (who had a relatively good 6-5 season). The following loss to Kentucky was in the 1992, the worst LSU season since 1910.

Speaking of the early í90s, Bear Bryant wasnít the only mutual coach between Alabama and Kentucky. I also mentioned Bill Curry in my Alabama rivalry post:

ďLSU continued its losing ways almost throughout Curryís tenure at Kentucky, but the Wildcats didnít fare much better. 1992 and 1994 were probably the sorriest match-ups during that period. 1992 was Curryís only win with the Cats in Baton Rouge, but LSU would finish 2-9 and Kentucky would finish 4-7. In 1994, Kentuckyís lone win of the season was over Louisville in the opener. They still managed to make it close against LSU, losing 17-13 in Baton Rouge. LSU finished 4-7.

ďIn 1993, Curryís most successful season at Kentucky (6-6, with a loss to Clemson in the Peach Bowl), Kentucky won 35-17

ďAlthough LSU would finish 7-4-1 in 1995, the Tigers lost to Kentucky, who would finish 4-7, anyway. LSU made the unfortunate decision to wear purple pants for the game. And rather than causing Kentucky to avert its eyes for the entire contest, it seemed to make the Tigers self-conscious. I donít think LSU has worn purple pants since. The final was 24-16 in Lexington. Curry had another 4-7 campaign in his final year, but LSU, on its way to a 10-2 record, had no problem with the Cats this time, 41-14.Ē

Kentucky would go 5-3 against LSU from 1992 to 1999. The only one that was really an upset in hindsight was in 1995. LSU had its first bowl season since 1988, but they struggled on the road that year, going 1-3-1, the only win coming against a Mississippi St. team that would go 3-8. Kentucky only went 4-7 that season, but they did get the Tigers at home.

The Tigers have won 5 of 6 since then, but there was one major upset (the one loss) and a close call in another. 2002 wouldnít have been a huge upset since that wasnít a very good LSU season (thankfully 8-4 isnít what LSU fans call a good season these days), but it was the second consecutive year that the Tigers won in the last 15 seconds. I will detail those three games below.

LSU-UK into the New Millenium

I mentioned the setback in 1995 above. The next four years had expected results based on the strengths of the teams. In 2000, after two losing seasons, a new coach named Nick Saban came to town. He had mixed results his first year, which included an early loss to UAB and a characteristic blowout loss at the hands of Steve Spurrierís Florida Gators.

Kentucky proved to be no problem that year (the Wildcats had two non-conference wins but would go winless in the SEC), but the following two seasons would be adventures.

In 2001, Kentucky started similarly: 1-4 with a win over Ball St. LSU had two convincing wins over non-conference opponents, followed by setbacks against Tennessee (in a close game on the road) and Florida (another blowout).

A loss at Kentucky would have meant an 0-3 start in conference and almost no chance of winning the sec west. (At this time, two losses to sec east teams were not fatal.)

LSU started out reasonably well, taking a 19-3 lead at one point and a 22-10 lead into the half. The tigers had scored in four of their first five possessions. The only failure to score had been a missed field goal. The two teams had exchanged interceptions late in the first half, but there was no major cause for concern.

Kentucky must have made some adjustments on defense though, because LSU just could not move the ball down the field in the second half. It was still 22-10 going into the final third of the game, so at less the LSU defense had kept the lead.

Not for long though. Kentucky, led by Jared Lorenzen, would engineer touchdown drives on consecutive possessions (he threw for 70 yards in the first drive alone) while all LSU could manage was a series of punts.

After the go-ahead Kentucky touchdown with just over 8 minutes remaining, LSU still could not get a drive going, giving the ball back to the Wildcats with about 7 minutes left. Kentucky, with a three-point lead, drove to the LSU 44 before their drive stalled with 3 1/2 minutes to go. With the lead and the defense playing well, the Kentucky coach Guy Morriss stayed conservative and opted to punt on 4th and 1.

Kentucky quickly got LSU into a 3rd and 4 situation, but LSU quarterback Rohan Davey all of a sudden had an answer to Lorenzen. Instead of throwing for 30 yards at once, he threw for shorter distances, but 14 yards on the third-down play was more than enough.

After three more passes and two more first downs, LSU was in reasonable scoring position at the Kentucky 27. On the next play, Davey was sacked for a loss of 9 and it looked like the Tigers might not even be able to tie the game. He then completed a pass to his favorite target Michael Clayton for 18 yards, bringing up a third and 1. A pass to Clayton worked on the last third and less-than-5, so thatís what they did again, this time for 8 yards, bringing up a first and goal at the 10.

Davey nearly ran it all the way in on first down, but that would have been scoring too soon, so he waited until third and six (after an illegal procedure and threw to Clayton yet again for the go-ahead score with 13 seconds left.

After beating Vanderbilt to end its 15-game SEC losing streak, Kentucky would once again finish with only two wins.

LSU was still inconsistent the next two weeks: a blowout win over a weak Mississippi St. team, followed by a disappointing home loss to Ole Miss, but then something happened the following week at Tuscaloosa. LSU beat a comparable Alabama team by 14 and would not lose again.

The Tigers snuck into the SEC championship game, where they knocked off #2 Tennessee. Then LSU beat Illinois to finish 10-3 and win its first Sugar Bowl since 1967 That was an improvement of seven wins over two seasons before. But none of it likely would have happened has Kentucky won that game.

LSU would learn pretty quickly in 2002that you donít just magically keep your spot in the pecking order. The Tigers lost their opener at Virginia tech convincingly. Then, the week before the Kentucky game, LSU was walloped by Auburn, 31-7.

Kentucky, however, was much-improved and entered the game with 6-3 record, only two wins shy of their highest season win total since 1984. Also, they were to play LSU at home.

The Tigers seemed to recover well to the loss to Auburn and played reasonably well on both sides of the ball. LSUís offense wasnít the greatest, but it went up 21-7 at the beginning of the third quarter, which isnít bad against a winning team on the road.

The Tigers still held onto to 24-14 lead with around 12 minutes left. Kentucky was driving in LSU territory and faced a fourth and 1. Not knowing how many chances they would get (and likely not wanting to repeat the mistake of 2001), Morriss went for it.

Kentuckyís go-to back Artose Pinner easily ran for the first down, and this put the Wildcats within easy striking distance for Lorenzen, who completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to put Kentucky within 4. For some reason, they unsuccessfully tried for two.

The craziness was only beginning. When LSU went three and out and punted, the Wildcat returner fumbled, allowing the Tigers to take over at the Kentucky 19.

LSU got the ball to the two, but played it safe with a 19-yard field goal to go back up 7.

Aided by three different first downs resulting from penalties, Kentucky drove right down the field for the tie with 2:24 to go.

LSU then went backwards in its next possession and punted. A 21-yard punt return and face ask penalty for good measure put Kentucky back in scoring position.

Another LSU penalty made it just a 29-yard attempt, which gave Kentucky the lead with just 11 seconds left.

The Tigers took over at their own 13, and then seemingly in an effort to delay the inevitable, got a delay-of-game penalty.

Randall completed a modest 17-yard pass to Clayton, and everyone thought it was over. It wasnít over on the clock, but still, thatís not good field position for any type of scoring play. If you havenít seen what happens next, just watch the video at the beginning of this blog.

Kentucky didnít play LSU again until 2006. The Wildcats were having another fairly good season and actually would win 8 games this time (new {from LSUís perspective} head coach Rich Brooks would lead the Wildcats to four consecutive bowl games starting in 2006), but they had to travel to LSU and were coming off a tough loss to South Carolina. LSU had lost on the road to a very good Florida team (which would eventually beat Ohio St. for the BCS championship). I guess they had opposite reactions to losses, because LSU seemed hungry for blood, and Kentucky seemed to be looking forward to its bye week. The Tigers absolutely destroyed the Wildcats, 49-0, and would not lose another game that year. In fact, they would not lose again before their trip to Kentucky in 2007Ö

The winning streak had pushed LSU to a #1 ranking, which they had not held in the regular season since 1959 when the Tigers lost by a single point at Tennessee.

Even though no players and few (if any) coaches were in common, the game followed a similar pattern to 2001 and 2002. Kentucky did score first, but LSU would go up 17-7 in the first half and 27-14 with 3:49 to go in the third quarter.

The Wildcats would score almost immediately afterward. Led by QB Andre Woodson, UK did not even face a third down on the touchdown drive.

LSU had to punt on the next possession, but they nearly had a three-and-out defensively on Kentuckyís next set of downs. The Tigers were whistled for a pass interference that kept the drive going. The Wildcats would eventually reduce the margin to three points with just under 8 minutes to play in regulation.

Two plays later, LSU QB Matt Flynn threw an interception way downfield, setting up the Wildcats at their own 37.

After an incompletion on first down, the tired Tiger defense gave up passes of 11 and 35 yards. Kentucky tried to run down he clock a bit before kicking the tying field goal.

LSU got the ball back with time for a winning drive, but it took 2:45 just to get to the Kentucky 40. Colt David was a good kicker with the Tigers, but 57 yards was a bit out of his range, so the game went to overtime.

The Wildcats got the first possession, and the LSU defense shot itself in the foot again, it would have been second and 15 from the 30, but a roughing the passer penalty gave Kentucky a first down at the 15. Kentucky later faced a third and 8, but Woodson completed a 12-yard pass, which led to the touchdown.

The Tigers had little trouble responding. It took just four plays to find the end zone, and LSU didnít even face a third down.

The next LSU offensive possession did not go so smoothly. The Tigers faced third and 19 after a penalty and a sack, but got back into comfortable field goal range. The Wildcats responded with a three-and-out followed by their own field goal, but then the LSU defense was expected to hold them again and could not.

Actually, holding was the problem. After a Woodson incomplete pass on third and goal from the 6, the Tigers were whistled for a holding penalty. This allowed Kentucky a new set of downs, which led to the touchdown.

LSU ran four straight running plays, and the game ended about a yard short of the first.

No accidental Gatorade baths this time, Kentucky fans stormed he field and stayed there awhile. Maybe the team enjoyed it a bit too much,as they would lose four of the next five games. LSU would win 6 of the next 7 (the only loss to Arkansas, another team that would finish 8-5, also in here overtimes) on the way to itís second BCS championship.

In 2011, Kentucky, which was in the midst of a losing season under Brooksí successor Joker Philips, did not spoil LSUís next serious attempt at an undefeated season.

(LSU had started 7-0 in 2010, but that was before Alabama, Auburn, or Arkansas, the only eventual 10-game winners the Tigers would face that season.)

LSUís return trip to Lexington should have been in 2012, but that was Missouriís and Texas A&Mís first year in the SEC, so it went to a 6-1-1 rotation, which means 6 divisional games (as a result of the seventh team being added to each division), one permanent opponent, and one rotating opponent. So rather than 2 spots rotating among five teams in that last number, one spot rotates among six teams. Back-to-back games are not done under the new system, but there is still some uncertainty over the long-term scheduling format, so they didnít insist that LSU and Kentucky wait until 5 years had passed. That may happen before the next game, however.

Other ďRivalry SeriesĒ entries:

Team List:
Alabama (Pregames: 2011, 2013)
Arkansas
Auburn (2010 post-game)
Florida
Georgia
Mississippi St.
Ole Miss
(Steve Spurrier and) South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas A&M

Special editions:
Pac-12

Week 7 College Football Rankings 2014
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA ARIZONA AUBURN BAYLOR COLORADO ST. DUKE FLORIDA ST. GEORGIA KENTUCKY LSU MISS ST. NOTRE DAME OKLAHOMA ST. OLE MISS
Arizona kicker Casey Skowron sits on the field after his missed field goal attempt reduced the number of undefeated FBS teams to six.

Arizona kicker Casey Skowron sits on the field after his missed field goal attempt reduced the number of undefeated FBS teams to six.

Rank/team/previous
1 Florida St. 2
2 Miss. St. 3
3 Ole Miss 4
4 Auburn 1
5 Notre Dame 6
6 Baylor 17
7 Alabama 10
8 Arizona 5
9 Oregon 12
10 Marshall 11
11 Georgia Ė
12 Oklahoma 15
13 Mich. St. 16
14 Ga. Tech 7
15 Minnesota 20
16 USC Ė
17 Nebraska 13
18 UCLA 9
19 TCU 8
20 LSU Ė
colo st
21 Colo. St. Ė
KentuckyLogo
22 Kentucky Ė
23 Duke Ė
24 Okie St. Ė
25 TX A&M 14

Full computer rankings 1-128†(as I will explain, these are not in complete agreement with the top 25 given above)

Out of rankings: (18) Missouri, (19) Penn St., (21) Ohio St., (22) Arizona St., (23) Louisville, (24) UC-Berkeley, (25) Florida

Explanation and future rankings

Not to get too off-track, but the LSU game was about what I expected going into it. One of those goofy Les Miles games that we would somehow manage to win. LSU does not lose two in a row often. Itís only happened once since 2002. That was at the end of the regular season in 2008.

Iíll get to my broader thoughts about that later in the week. For now, Iíve updated myLSU/Florida Rivalry blog. Iím working on one for Kentucky. I had done one back on TSN, but I was waiting until LSU played Kentucky again before doing it again here. A lot of people donít realize that LSU had played Kentucky about 50 years in a row before the SEC reduced the permanent inter-divisional rivalries from two to one.

Anyway, on the list above, I am putting Florida St., who had been my preseason top team, #1 for now. It depends on how other teams do, but itís possible that Florida St. could beat Notre Dame and become #1 in the computer rankings, so I donít want to jump them over Mississippi St. when I might just have to reverse it next week. Regardless, after next week, I think I can just go with my formulaís results.

Kentucky isnít a bad team, but I doubt theyíre much of a threat to Mississippi St. a week from Saturday, so I donít see the point of prolonging it any longer if the Bulldogs are still the computer #1 after the result of the FSU/Notre Dame game. Iím glad that the major polls were willing to put them there though. I was worried the voters would be too deferential to Florida St. until they lose (if they lose).

Lower down, I found it interesting that I have one of the win chains in order, and the major polls do not. Arizona beat Oregon, who beat Michigan St., who beat Nebraska. Looking at the polls, you would think Michigan St. beat Oregon, who beat Arizona, who beat Nebraska. USC doesnít fit in, but donít forget they have two losses, not just one.

There were a lot of losses and bye weeks by low-top-25 teams last week, so that explains the turnover, but the highest team that fell out (Missouri) was only #18. Georgia, the team that beat Missouri, is the only new team that rose really high; but they were a close #26 last week, and they were the only team in that vicinity with a good win.

USC also made a fairly large jump, from nowhere to #16, but that can happen when you beat a previously unbeaten team. The Pac-12 overall strength of schedule is improving now that more of the top teams are playing one another. That phenomenon is why Mississippi St. and Ole Miss are so far ahead of the other unbeatens and Auburn is so far ahead of the other one-loss teams.

Kentucky and Colorado St. might not be great, but as I said, there were a lot of losses lower down on the top 25 and even as you continue into the top 35. Kentucky was #29 last week, and Colorado St. was #34. USCís win had some effect upon Colorado St. too, since the Rams beat Boston College, who had beaten the Trojans.

Duke also joined the top 25 by beating a previously unbeaten team, in their case Georgia Tech.

The Les Miles combo of LSU and Oklahoma St. were only gone a week, so I donít think I need to elaborate too much on those. Florida was #25 going in, and Oklahoma St.ís prior opponents had some mild successes to augment the Cowboysí win over Kansas.

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6

...For earlier access to my blogs, archives, etc., you can follow my†wordpress site†or my page on†facebook.

Notre Dame needs to sh*t or get off the pot!
Category: NCAA
Tags: Notre Dame football administration Davaris Daniels Keivarae Russell Ishaq Williams Kendall Moore Eliar Hardy

As much as I am enjoying the thus-far undefeated season for my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, I am also joining the frustrated masses regarding the still-unknown fate of 5 Irish football players who have been suspended from the team for 60 days and counting.† This includes wide reciever DaVaris Daniels, and 4 defensive players in cornerback Keivarae Russell, end Ishaq Williams, linebacker Kendall Moore and safety Eliar Hardy (Hardy's suspension came a couple weeks after the other 4, but STILL).† Daniels, Russell, and Williams were projected as starters before the suspension occurred.† The charges?† Academic impropriety; they are accused of turning-in homework that other students did for them.

I know that it's pretty common for hearing-and-appeals processes such as this to take some time.† Red tape.† I get that.† All 5 of these players did have their hearings last week, however.† Here we are a week later with the football season half-over,†and they're still suspended with no announcements from the ND administration or the athletes themselves as to their fate...are any of them back on the team and will they play again, or not???

Look, I'm not the Kool Aid drinking Irish fan who's automatically going to assume the "frozen five", as they are called, are innocent just because I want to see them back on the team.† If they are guilty, fine, kick them out and be done with it!† If they are innocent, let them play!

It's of consolation to me that The Irish now sit at 5-0 in spite of these players' absence and the team is doing well without them, but it is also a major distraction to the team.† Coach Brian Kelly keeps being asked about the players and keeps having to give "mum" answers about the situation being that the suspensions and hearing processes are not under his control...Credit to the guy and his charges that they've handled the distration as well as they have up till now, but the coach and the team are being put in an unfair situation by being the ones who have to answer questons about the suspended players†when it is the administraton who should answer, but won't.

GEEZ - Shit or get off the pot already!† That's what I'm sayin.

Week 6 College Football Rankings 2014
Category: NCAA
Tags: LSU FLORIDA OLE MISS ALABAMA AUBURN COLLEGE FOOTBALL PENN ST. OHIO ST. NOTRE DAME ARIZONA MICHIGAN ST. MISSISSIPPI ST. TCU FLORIDA ST

LSU plays Florida this week, so if youíre interested, here is my LSU/Florida Rivalry blog.

Dak Prescott evades an Auburn defender last year.  I rank the two teams #1 and #3 going into their game Saturday.

Dak Prescott evades an Auburn defender last year. I rank the two teams #1 and #3 going into their game Saturday.

Rank/team/previous
1 Auburn 1
2 Florida St. 2
3 Miss. St. 6
4 Ole Miss 11
5 Arizona 15
6 Notre Dame 12
7 Ga. Tech 13
8 TCU 23
9 UCLA 9
10 Alabama 3
11 Marshall 24
12 Oregon 4
13 Nebraska 10
14 TX A&M 8
15 Oklahoma 5
16 Mich. St. Ė
17 Baylor 17
18 Missouri 25
19 Penn St. Ė
minnesota
20 Minnesota Ė
21 Ohio St. Ė
22 Arizona St. Ė
23 Louisville 20
Cal-Football-Golden-Bears
24 UC-Berkeley Ė
25 Florida Ė

Full computer rankings 1-128 (as I will explain, these are not in agreement with the top 25 given above)

Out of rankings: (7) BYU, (14) LSU. (16) E. Carolina, (18) Georgia, (19) S. Carolina, (21) Okie St.. (22) NC State

Explanation and future rankings

I only made two adjustments to my computer ratings to make this top 25. One was to keep Florida St. at #2. They actually were #2 in the computer rating last week, but the big points by undefeated Ole Miss, Miss. St., and Arizona teams them all ahead of the Seminoles. I still think itís too early to put any of them #2 though.

If the Bulldogs win next week, I may even put them #1. If Ole Miss and Auburn win, they may be 1 and 2, but then Florida St. would have a chance to get back in the top 2 with a win over Notre Dame the following week. In that scenario, I may again keep Florida St. #2 pending the outcome of the game against the Irish.

The other adjustment was to keep UCLA at #9. It just doesnít look right to lose to an unranked team and move up. They were #1 in the computer ratings last week.

I may make similar minor adjustments next week (I mentioned one possibility), but after the following week, I plan to just follow the computer rating to the letter.

In total, 7 of my top 11 teams lost of the 9 possible. There were three games where top-11 teams were playing one another, so thatís why there were only 9 possible losses. The only survivor against a team ranked below #15 was Florida St. Auburn was also a survivor, but LSU was #14 going into last week. (More on LSU below.)

Iím going to talk about new teams in the top 25 and old teams that fell out. I think itís pretty obvious why South Carolina (losers to Kentucky) and North Carolina St. (losers to Clemson) fell out. Some teams only moved into the rankings because 12 teams ahead of them lost.

BYU fell all the way out after losing to Utah St. That wasnít based on past opponents so much (although Texas didnít help), but Utah St. (#87 going into the week) is a bad loss at this point, so having a bad loss this early makes you sink like a stone. Virginia is still a quality win though.

East Carolinaís loss to South Carolina continues to drag them down. Also, the Pirates essentially have zero points to show for the last two weeks (a bye and a win over SMU). Virginia Tech won, but they beat North Carolina (another prior opponent of East Carolina), so that didnít help much.

Georgia also lost to South Carolina, so that is hurting them as well. Also, Tennesseeís loss wasnít helpful either.

Oklahoma St. is having issues with prior opponents, and Saturdayís win over Iowa St. (which only has one win) didnít help much. Texas-San Antonio has struggled, and Texas Tech lost yet again as well. Florida St. is still a respectable loss, but itís not really more respectable than it was already.

Michigan St. is back after finally getting a good win over Nebraska, nothing controversial there. Their land grant rivals (Penn St.) might be more of a mystery, but Akron, Rutgers, Northwestern, and Central Florida all won last week, and of course some higher teams suffered losses.

There isnít much analysis required for Minnesota, Ohio St., and Arizona St. Minnesota was idle, so they didnít really have points added, but it still helped a lot that TCU (the team they lost to) beat Oklahoma. The other two also had fairly decent wins.

Cal is probably the worst 4-1 team, but their only loss is to undefeated Arizona. Even though the Colorado and Washington St. wins werenít pretty and the Bears have allowed 144 points in their last 9 quarters, a win is a win. The Pac-12 schedule is a decent boost as well. Iíll mention Florida below.

I donít factor in margin of victory, so you might wonder why LSU fell so far. The Tigers had two wins over otherwise-unbeaten teams (ULM and Wisconsin) going into the week, but both lost. LSU does still have an extremely good schedule (#12 in FBS average), but itís very difficult to be in the top 25 with two losses this early, and the ULM and Wisconsin losses made it impossible. Also, an average FBS opponent would have given more points than Sam Houston St.

Iíve already given my thoughts about LSU in the past few blogs, but this was a very good article about what is important in this season at this point.http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/90273/developing-talent-the-key-now-for-lsu?ex_cid=espnapi_public

Forget winning the SEC West. Sure, competitive divisions like that can theoretically have a two-loss champion, but they need to just put it out of their minds completely. It should be a relaxed atmosphere where if you can upset Alabama, Ole Miss, or whoever, thatís great, but just play a good game. We didnít do that against Auburn, it was like the worse it got the more afraid LSU was of making it even worse. Even though Auburn is in playoff position and could easily be overshadowed with just one slip-up, they played more like a team with nothing to lose than LSU did.

My one disagreement with the author in the piece above is I donít think you settle on one quarterback. If one of them plays a bad half, take him out. The only decent drives were orchestrated by Jennings in the last game (the touchdown drive was essentially one good play rather than a well-orchestrated drive) and by Harris in the previous game. Neither one should have stayed in. We donít have to pick next yearís quarterback until next year. If they both get an equal number of snaps this year, then you have even more to go on in picking the quarterback for next year.

I think itís far worse to wrongly settle on a quarterback and stubbornly refuse to make a change. Thatís what happened in the 2012 title game. Maybe they wouldnít have gotten any points with Lee (who had struggled in the first game against Alabama), but you canít do worse than 0. Saturday was only one of two times since then (the other being @Alabama last year) that LSU lost by more than one possession.

As mentioned, LSU plays Florida next week. They also have two quarterbacks. Will Muschamp benched one of them to provide an offensive spark, and it worked. I donít know if he put a better QB in the abstract in, and he probably doesnít either, but he made a change to see if it would help against a given team in a given situation and it did. I suspect the second quarterback will do better against LSU based on his skill set (at least they might not be shut out for three quarters); but if not, Iím sure Muschamp will put the other guy back in.

The Gators snuck into my top 25 because the Kentucky win was strengthened when the Wildcats beat South Carolina. The one-point win at Tennessee got them some points as well. I think beating a team like that on the road would be something for LSU to be proud of. There will be a lot of unhappy people if they donít win; but like the ESPN article says, there is a lot of potential for the future either way.

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5

...For earlier access to my blogs, archives, etc., you can follow my†wordpress site†or my page on†facebook.

What Happened: LSU-Auburn Reaction
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA AUBURN COLLEGE FOOTBALL FLORIDA GEORGIA LSU MISSISSIPPI ST. NEW MEXICO ST. OLE MISS SEC TEXAS A&M WISCONSIN

Iíve added to and updated my LSU-Auburn Rivalry blog.† Also, my new computer ratings are up.† Of the teams in my top 11 last week who weren't playing another team in my top 11, only Florida St. survived.† I'll post my official top 25 with discussion later in the week.

I guess I should start by giving credit to someone I talk to who goes by scurds. He predicted Auburn would win easily. Iím glad no one offered me LSU +21 (that was his predicted margin of victory for Auburn), because I would have taken it. There is a bit of a caveat to that: he seems to enjoy picking LSU to do poorly, and as you might guess has been wrong a few times. Broken clocks should be congratulated when they are nonetheless correct.

Iím disappointed. Not because it was a loss, which I expected. I ranked Auburn #1 for good reasons, and they were playing at home against a young team that hadnít really traveled before. I was disappointed that the young men on the field from LSU werenít given a fair chance to at least make it interesting.

Iím mostly just going to talk about the first half, because Auburn was able to kind of cruise through the second half; and to be honest, I skipped parts of it anyway. Other than losses to Alabama in January 2012 and November 2013, this was the first game where LSU lost by more than 10 since November 2008 against Ole Miss.

I was hopeful after seeing a couple of the upsets and especially seeing how well Mississippi St. handled Texas A&M. At kickoff though, they mentioned that four top-six teams had already lost. This made me even more skeptical about a fifth.

I thought LSU would play a bit better early on. There were a couple of minor mistakes typical in any college game, but the only real criticism I have of the early going (which was mostly just good plays by Auburn) was I thought LSU should have been more aggressive on offense.

They tried all these different looks and were able to execute the previous week (I know it wasnít a good team, but you could tell the plays had been practiced well), but then they didnít carry forward anything interesting into this game. Whatís the worst that could have happened? Falling behind early and the game being over at halftime? The runs were less up-the-middle and there were a couple of different blocking schemes, but it wasnít anything creative.

You donít give a team like that easy running plays to defend. Harris had some early jitters to put it mildly, so Iím not sure if different plays would have kept it from being 17-0 at some point. On the other hand, had they worked, he might have lost those jitters. I just thought they could have tried to use an element of surprise. Playing conservative in the first few possessions hadnít worked in the games against Wisconsin and Mississippi St. and didnít work yet again. It was also more of a problem since this was a road game. Auburn, on the other hand, did call plays to keep LSU unbalanced, such as the flea-flicker, which was successful.

Other than that, I donít blame LSU much for having trouble out of the gate against Auburn (one touchdown resulted from basically a jump ball that Auburn caught; I mentioned the flea-flicker). After LSU scored to get on the board, it was a manageable 17-7 score.

There were then two crucial defensive errors after the LSU kickoff. One was an easy interception that the average senior citizen in a walker could have caught that was dropped. LSU would have most likely gotten at least a field goal had the pass been intercepted (defenses on quick turnarounds after a touchdown drive usually donít have a three and out). So instead of maybe 17-10, it was 24-7 after a few more plays. Another error was a defensive hands to the face that gave Auburn first and goal around the 5 instead of 3rd and 10 at the 11. That may have made the difference between a field goal for Auburn and the touchdown.

The pieces to the puzzle seem to be on the field, but theyíre just not being put together very well, at least not where it does any good. When there is a sense of urgency, Harris has done well. So there needs to be some kind of tempo on the field, but they just canít get out of the traditional pocket passing type of setup, along with this thing that colleges do way too much where they look to the sidelines for directions and use almost the entire play clock before each play.

For instance, Harris completed a few passes (one was called back) and also ran for 32 yards to put LSU in field goal range at the end of the first half. Donít ask me why they didnít call a timeout or try a field goal, but playing like that makes him about 10 times better for some reason. It also seemed to help Jennings both in this game and against Wisconsin. It wasnít a hurry-up when they put Jennings in this game (late in the third quarter), but they did play with a focus on looking for openings downfield. I continued to be baffled as to why the coaching staff waits for there to be a significant deficit before changing the style of play.

The final Auburn touchdown of the half was poorly defended, but it wasnít drawn up poorly. I think thatís entirely the result of the defense not getting off the field. In both the Wisconsin and Mississippi St. games, when LSU established a productive offense, the defense shut everything down. Also, even in this game, Auburn only scored 3 points in the first 20+ minutes of the second half. They were trying to get that final touchdown at that point, so I think thatís relevant.

Anyway, LSU should have been behind no more than 14 going into the half and instead they were behind 24. Thatís a dramatic difference. Look how quickly Ole Miss came up with the last two touchdowns against Alabama. Thatís no joke of a defense either, but three or four scores? Thatís not even a game really. (People say itís three scores, but who goes 3/3 in two-point conversions?)

I knew we had a young team this year, and Iíve expressed disappointment (but not shock) in how slowly both quarterbacks are coming along. It happens though. Experience can do a lot of good and its absense can be clear. The coaches have to give the team a better chance to win though, even if a win still would have been unlikely had things been done well. The halftime score was ultimately the result of a lack of good strategy and leadership.

LSU did have scoring opportunities in the second half, but rather than kicking field goals, they went for it on fourth downs. I would have probably kicked field goals personally just to try to build some momentum, but thatís the least of my complaints.

Trivia and Looking Ahead

Tommy Tuberville remains an unpopular person in Baton Rouge for smoking a cigar on the field after the big Auburn win in 1999.

Tommy Tuberville remains an unpopular person in Baton Rouge for smoking a cigar on the field after the big Auburn win in 1999.

Likely due to those decisions, this is LSUís worst loss sinceÖ Auburn in 1999. LSU lost by an identical score that year when the Fighting Tigers started 0-7 in conference before Gerry DiNardo was relieved of his duties (leading to the hiring of Nick Saban in the following offseason). LSU won by 35 in 2011, so thatís still the biggest win in the series by either team. This is the fifth time Auburn has beaten LSU by more than 20 (49 games dating back to 1901), but it is only the third time since 1938. The closest of the three was by 24 in 1993.

LSU did have five losses of 28 or more since then, but only once was under Les Miles. They were Florida 2000, Florida 2001, Alabama 2002, Georgia 2004, and Florida 2008.

Miles will try to win his 100th game since coming to LSU at Florida next Saturday.

Since the SEC expanded to 12 teams in 1992, LSU has traveled to both Auburn and Florida in every even year. LSU has never won both games and not coincidentally has never won the SEC West in an even year, so this pretty much assures it wonít happen this year either.

Auburn is now the only undefeated SEC team outside of Mississippi, but they have what should be an interesting trip to Starkville next week. Ole Miss will travel to Texas A&M, so there may be only one SEC undefeated after next week.

...For earlier access to my blogs, archives, etc., you can follow my†wordpress site†or my page on†facebook.

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