by John Marcase
Oct 3, 2022
Just Win, Baby
I’m gonna let you in on a secret about Power 5 college football in 2022.
It is difficult to win games. Unless you are Alabama.
Ask Georgia. The top-ranked and defending national champion Bulldogs trailed Missouri Saturday night until midway through the fourth quarter before pulling out a 26-22 victory.
This is the same Missouri team that bumbled its way to a bad loss to Auburn, 17-14, the week before.
“Everybody in the world thinks you're going to go out there and blow some team out,” said Georgia coach Kirby Smart. “I've been in this league too long, man. I know different … You guys may think it's going to be easy at some point, but I promise you, it's going to be really hard in the SEC every week."
That win by Auburn a week ago likely kept Bryan Harsin employed for another week as its football coach, but his future appears even more tenuous after the blue and orange Tigers blew a 17-0 lead to the purple and gold Tigers Saturday.
As is becoming customary for LSU this season, the Tigers started slow and finished strong, led by its defense, to grab a 21-17 victory and move to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the SEC West.
It wasn’t until Greg Brooks Jr. picked off Auburn’s Robby Ashford with 2:18 left that LSU could finally exhale and run out the clock. Brooks ripped the ball away from LSU transfer Koy Moore for LSU’s fourth takeaway of the game.
"We just found a way to win the game," said LSU coach Brian Kelly.
Sometimes, that’s all you can ask, especially in a series as close and quirky as Auburn-LSU is typically.
This is the same series that has seen an earthquake, a massive fire and LSU quarterback Jamie Howard throw five fourth-quarter interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. (With a new coaching staff, Howard led LSU to victory a year later over Auburn.)
It also is a harbinger of things to come.
A win can propel a team to further success in a season, and that certainly could be the case for LSU as the Tigers find themselves ranked in the AP poll - No. 25 - for the first time since the 2021 preseason poll.
For LSU, this season begins in earnest this week when the Tigers host eighth-ranked Tennessee at 11 a.m. as the football gods were unkind to Kelly. Just imagine how electric Tiger Stadium would’ve been for a prime-time Saturday night kickoff.
Following the Vols, LSU visits Florida before hosting No. 9 Ole Miss. After a bye week, top-ranked Alabama comes to Baton Rouge.
Before then, Kelly and his team can look at the SEC standings and see there are only five teams left undefeated in conference play - Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU.
In a few days, that number will shrink by at least one.
The Vols will present LSU defensive coordinator Matt House his stiffest test so far as the defense continues to lead the way. A victory will be difficult for sure as Josh Huepel has quickly rebuilt the Tennessee program in a little more than a season in Knoxville.
LSU is not winning with style points, which may be maddening for fans, but don’t expect Kelly to apologize. The Tigers are doing enough to earn the points that truly matter - the ones on the scoreboard.
Comments? email John at firstname.lastname@example.org