Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SEC: LSU Rules

Well, whadda ya know. The AP voters finally got a clue. They dropped Oklahoma to second place in the college football Top 25, elevating LSU to the throne after the Tigers impressive 47-21 road win against No. 16 West Virginia.

 Not that it was pretty. LSU lost the total offense war, 533-366, and its secondary was toasted, allowing QB Geno Smith to pile up 463 yards. But LSU was never seriously threatened.

 Oklahoma has been top dog all season in the AP poll, but didn't really deserve the honor. Its lone notable victory was over Florida State which, it turns out, is overrated.

Here's a rule of thumb, based on the undisputable fact that the SEC conference is the best in college football. Whenever there's a powerhouse SEC team that's mowing down mighty opponents, that should be the No. 1 team. Right now that's LSU.

 But despite all their talent, the Tigers are an odd No.1 team. First of all, they've survived scandals, one prompting the suspension of starting QB Jordan Jefferson, that would have ripped apart most teams. Also, they're doing all this without any offensive superstars. Their leader is a QB, Jarrett Lee, who's an unspectacular, efficient (64.6% completions, one pick) game manager who's just keeping the seat warm for Jefferson. And how many No.1 teams can say their best player is a cornerback (Tyrann Mathieu)?

 What makes LSU particularly No. 1 worthy is that, this season, it has departed from the SEC's much maligned norm--padding the pre-conference schedule with patsies at home. This time LSU, with the exception of Northwestern State, loaded up on ranked heavyweights from other major conferences--Oregon, Mississippi State and West Virginia--all on the road, no less. And the Tigers bullied them all.

 Some AP voters soured on Oklahoma last week because the Sooners didn't destroy Missouri, but instead staggered to a 38-28 victory. You lose No. 1 votes when you fall behind 14-3 at home, playing an unranked opponent.

 But Oklahoma is still kingpin somewhere else. The voters in the Coaches Poll still have it wrong, once again naming the Sooners No. 1. Wake up guys, wake up.

 Speaking of waking up, in other SEC news, Vanderbilt certainly woke up.  Its dream undefeated season turned nightmare with a 21-3 trampling in South Carolina. Vandy's offense was pathetic, amounting to only 77 yards and five first downs. Not that South Carolina's defense is that sturdy. It's been battered all season. But in this David-Goliath battle, David didn't have a prayer.

 Vandy couldn't even capitalize on Carolina QB Stephen Garcia's miserable, four-interception day. The only fun in this snoozer was watching Carolina coach Steve Spurrier's sideline explosions as Garcia made gaffe after gaffe.