It seems like a long time ago
analysts and fans alike were discounting coach Les Miles and his team. After
being raked over the coals by the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game,
the Tigers were left for dead by national opinion makers as LSU slid all the way
from the Sugar Bowl to the Peach.
Aside from being paired up with No.
9 Miami in the Dec. 30 bowl game, there weren’t too many exciting things to say
about LSU. On the home front, Miles was hammered from every angle and was
already being anointed as the next Mike Archer (or Curley Hallman or Gerry
DiNardo. Take your pick!).
What a difference a bowl victory
In the week following the Tigers’
40-3 domination of the Hurricanes in Atlanta, the tune has changed. Chatter on local
talk radio has shifted from Miles himself to the potential quarterback
controversy, the Tigers’ lack of a point guard and the final few tasty morsels
of recruiting news.
Fans have stepped up in defense of
the first-year LSU coach; one even went so far as to pen a letter to the editor
in the Baton Rouge Advocate in which he stated:
“For those pubescent navel gazers
in search of their own IQs, blame is fame. Their self-importance would be lost
in a crowd if they all got together and supported the LSU football program they
so complain to love. The upshot is: 11-2 in Miles’ first hurricane season as LSU
head coach and a 40-3 win over a top 10 team in the Peach Bowl. Perhaps Miles is
not wrong for LSU. If so, it would be for reasons opposite those his character’s
assassins think. He deserves better; his detractors don’t.”
Yeah in the midst of several big
words that most Miles critics probably didn’t understand anyway, this LSU fan
(who will remain nameless) slammed the door on the constant drivel about Miles’
inability to lead the Tiger football program.
And while this stinging reprimand
delivered more than enough pleasure to Miles supporters, a topic on talk radio
did even more for true LSU fans.
While some may think it is the kiss
of death, others will use ESPN Radio talk show host Collin Cowherd’s early bird
predictions as something on which to hang their collective hats. On his daily
talk show, Cowherd dubbed the LSU Tigers as his early favorite for the preseason
No. 1 ranking.
Yeah, yeah it’s a stretch, but
something in which Miles, the Tigers and LSU followers can revel for the next
Speaking of the No. 1 ranking, the
Texas Longhorns ended USC’s 34-game winning streak last Wednesday in a 41-38
victory in the Rose Bowl.
Coach Mack Brown and the Longhorns
staked claim to UT’s first national title since 1969 and did so in dramatic
fashion rallying from 12 points down in the final six minutes to unseat the
Vincent Young (I know you Heisman
voters have to be kicking yourselves) almost single-handedly propelled the Horns
to victory rushing for a couple of late touchdowns.
In the aftermath of that game, I
sat emotionally drained and tried to think of the greatest college games I have
had the opportunity to watch in my lifetime. So, as all sports writers do, I
jotted down the games I felt were my top five or so. I understand there are
those of you who are older than me and recall greater games, but remember I am
still less than a year from being 30 years old.
So here it goes (in no particular
LSU 17, Georgia 10, 2003. I don’t
think there is anyone who would disagree that this game might be the greatest in
Tiger football history. A Battle of two true heavyweights duking it
LSU 28, Florida 21, 1997. I’ll go
ahead and get the LSU games out of the way. It was the Tigers only win over a
No. 1 ranked opponent. LSU was a huge underdog and came out with the win over
Steve Spurrier’s team.
Notre Dame 31, Florida State 24, 1993. I didn’t begin watching
football until my early teens and this was one of the earliest great games I
actually remember watching from whistle to whistle while growing up. Notre Dame
upset No. 1 Florida State in South Bend, but lost
a week last to Boston College 41-39.
Texas 37, Nebraska 27, 1996. It was one of the biggest
upsets of the 1990s. In the first-ever Big XII title game, Texas upset No. 3 and defending national champion
fourth inches on their side of the 50, Texas coach John Mackovic called a pass play
to a tight end that clinched the victory for the Horns.
Texas 41, USC 38, 2006. I am not a huge fan of
either program, but I don’t think anyone will disagree when I say this could
have been one of the greatest, if not the greatest game, I have ever seen. It
had everything including offense, big plays, controversy and defensive
I always like to include of readers
in lists of this nature. I’d love top hear about your favorite games. Email me
at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger
Rag Magazine. Reach him at email@example.com.