How about this – LSU versus South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
As far-fetched as that seemed only two weeks ago, it took on an air of plausibility this past weekend when LSU turned back Florida, 33-29, and South Carolina upset top-ranked Alabama, 35-21.
Suddenly LSU and South Carolina have become the toast of the SEC after most everyone assumed Alabama and Florida would be rematched in the title game. Maybe they might, too, given that there is a lot of football still to be played. Plus, Auburn can’t be discounted with a 6-0 record that matches LSU’s overall mark.
And, yet, what LSU and South Carolina accomplished makes them the heir apparents to win the Western and Eastern divisions, respectively. LSU went into the Swamp and won at Florida for the first time since 2004. In doing so, LSU moved up three spots to ninth in the latest Associated Press Top 25.
Just a week earlier, LSU failed to climb at all with its 16-14 victory over Tennessee. Worse than that, LSU coach Les Miles was lampooned unmercifully for his horrendous clock management that nearly cost LSU the victory.
The Tigers still have some clock issues, but they worked it well enough against Florida to have beaten the Gators on Jarrett Lee’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Toliver with six seconds left.
Lee has done all he can to show that he deserves more playing time. He’s directed two game-winning drives in a row and allowed Toliver to properly display his ability as the Tigers’ best receiver. Toliver’s skillful catch on a fade route was a nice en core to the 38-yard touchdown pass Lee threw to Toliver in the second quarter.
Not to be outdone, junior quarterback Jordan Jefferson showed that he still can serve a useful purpose. Jefferson has started every game this season, and since it’s not so important who starts, the Tigers may as well maintain the status quo as long as they keep winning. Jefferson scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 3 yards and was the game’s second-leading rusher with 11 carries for 42 yards.
The two-quarterback system is here to stay, and Miles and his staff seemed to make better use of it against Florida than they did Tennessee. It stands to reason it will be even more effective when LSU returns to action at home at 6 p.m. Saturday against McNeese State. Playing a Football Championship Subdivision team such as McNeese State will give LSU the chance to correct its many mistakes. For instance, Jefferson threw another interception that led to a touchdown and Patrick Peterson muffed a punt that set up Florida’s second score.
LSU might be able to overcome such miscues when it visits Auburn on Oct. 23 or entertains Alabama on Nov. 6. It didn’t appear as if LSU would survive against Florida, either, but the Tigers always have a chance with a defense that held Florida to 243 yards and intercepted a pass. What’s more, LSU amassed 385 yards against what was considered one of the SEC’s best defenses.
Page 2 of 2 - LSU certainly will be tested even more when it jumps back into the SEC fray, but the Tigers have shown that when properly prepared, they’re ready for most anything that might come their way. The same holds true of South Carolina, which was the first victim of LSU’s fake-field goal ruse that lead to its winning score against Florida.
South Carolina dismantled what had been the SEC’s top-rated scoring defense with the most points scored against Alabama since LSU defeated the Crimson Tide in 2007, 41-34. LSU won the national championship that year and could vie for it again with victories over Auburn and Alabama.
That’s jumping much too far ahead, though. Remember, this is the same team that scored only two touchdowns against Tennessee. At any rate, at least LSU took a giant step in the right direction.