As the media filled a small room in
the bowels of Commonwealth Stadium, Miles gathered his thoughts, searching for
the right words to say.
His team, almost a unanimous No. 1
in every poll, had just lost to Kentucky in triple overtime. A week after one
of the most stirring victories in LSU history when the Tigers defeated
Tiger Stadium, Miles sat dejected as his team fell from grace in heart-wrenching
Praised for his gutsy calls time
and again on fourth down against Florida, Miles
watched as his team lost on just that, a fourth-down play in the Bluegrass State.
“You have to be ready to play
anytime you go on the road in this conference,” Miles said, stern-faced and
tight-lipped, voice trembling ever so slightly. “You see this brought to life
All week the Tigers were showered
with praise in the wake of the Florida victory. Miles and his team spoke of
keeping an even keel because they knew what lay ahead at Kentucky. The Wildcats
were 5-1 and coming off a bitter defeat at the hands of South Carolina. LSU was a
team riding high after staking claim to all 65 first-place votes in the AP Poll.
Despite the hoopla, the Tigers had been warned about Heisman hopeful Andre Woodson and the Wildcats.
Saturday they found out the hard
Kentucky already owned wins over nationally ranked
Louisville and Arkansas. The Wildcats won both of those games
rallying from second-half deficits. Little could Miles have imagined that
dispose of his team in the very same manner.
The Wildcats rallied from a
13-point, third-quarter deficit to force overtime. Through three extra periods,
matched LSU point for point before finally finding a way to stop the nation’s
As Charles Scott lay on the ground
in agony after being stopped a yard short of a first down in the third overtime
period, Kentucky linebacker Braxton Kelly began
celebrating one of the biggest wins in the program’s history.
“We have to keep fighting,” Scott
said. “It hurts a lot. We have to push through it. This feeling right here is
what we don’t want to feel again.”
The initial shock of losing did
The Tigers’ 13-game winning streak,
longest active in the nation, had come to a screeching halt. After waiting 48
years to ascend to the nation’s top spot again, LSU relinquished the No. 1
ranking after just two games.
Sure the initial sickness of losing
hurt immediately – that and the thousands of ecstatic Kentucky fans that
stormed the field. But it will not be until the LSU coaches and players watch
the film that the Tigers will truly realize just how painful the loss will end
LSU had the game in the bag …
Sure, Kentucky scored first and
took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter. But the Tigers rattled off 17 straight
points and looked as if they would carry a 17-7 advantage into the halftime
locker room. Considering LSU got the ball to open the second half and if they
could score a touchdown on its first possession (which they did), the Tigers
could have owned a commanding 24-7 lead. A 17-point lead at that juncture would
have emptied Commonwealth Stadium midway through the third quarter, sending
UK fans home thinking of coach Billy
Gillispie and the Wildcat basketball team.
That wasn’t the case,
Instead, LSU gave up a 51-yard pass
from Woodson to Steve Johnson, which set up a 12-yard Woodson touchdown run some
44 seconds after the Tigers’ final score of the first half.
Halftime score: 17-14.
LSU took the ball in the second
half and scored that initial touchdown. That touchdown came on the heels of a
Chad Jones interception of Woodson that had Wildcat fans teetering on the edge
of throwing in the towel. They also added a field goal, making the score 27-14.
The problem with that 30-yard Colt David field goal was that it should have been a touchdown, which would have
extended the lead to 31-14. But Matt Flynn’s third-down pass skipped off the
hands of Keith Zinger in the end zone and LSU had to settle for
At that point, simply a
three-and-out stop by the Tigers defense might have broken Kentucky’s spirit.
Instead, Woodson led the Wildcats on a seven-play, 82-yard drive in only
two-and-a-half minutes, cutting the lead to a mere six points, 27-21.
You could feel the tide turning at
that point, and LSU was lucky to hold the Wildcats to a pair of field goals that
only allowed Kentucky to tie the score 27-27.
The Tigers looked as if they might
win the game in the most dramatic of fashions when David put a good foot into a
57-yard field goal attempt with two seconds remaining. But his kick missed by
three painful feet wide left with plenty of distance to seal the
LSU and Kentucky exchanged
touchdowns in the opening overtime sequence, and the Tigers actually took the
lead on a 38-yard David field goal in the second overtime period. LSU was a
Kentucky-missed-field-goal away from winning, but Lones Seiber knocked home a
43-yarder, sending the game to a third extra period.
A defensive holding penalty gave
Kentucky new life in the third extra stanza and Woodson threw a touchdown pass
to Johnson for the go-ahead and eventual winning score, but LSU held on the
required two-point try and could pull out the win with a touchdown and
But, as you know, that didn’t
happen as Scott came up short.
Lost in the midst of all this drama
were a plethora of dropped passes, many by LSU wideout Brandon LaFell. Fans are
beginning to question Matt Flynn’s ability at quarterback, but had his receivers
held onto passes that were dropped the game might not have been
When LSU wasn’t dropping passes,
the Tigers were committing mindless and untimely penalties. Many times LSU was
tagged with pass interference penalties, not to mention Tyson Jackson’s
unnecessary roughing-the-passer personal foul in overtime.
There is plenty of blame to go
around, but the Tigers still did enough to win the game.
And it wasn’t like USC’s loss to
Stanford and Cal losing to Oregon State, both of which were at home, by the
way. LSU lost to a quality, ranked opponent, on the road – in TRIPLE
All of this was taken into
consideration on Sunday when the polls were released and LSU had dropped to only
five in both the AP and Coaches Polls. The Tigers are actually No. 4 in the
initial BCS poll, which was also released on Sunday.
So do not fret, Tiger fans. Sure,
LSU lost. And yes, they lost to Kentucky. But it isn’t the end of the world.
It’s pretty obvious now, considering every team in the preseason top 10 has
lost, that whoever wins the national championship will likely have one loss. You
also have to believe that whichever one-loss team emerges as SEC Champion will
be playing the national championship game.
If that team is to be LSU, it all
begins on Saturday with Auburn.
Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger
Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.