A mark of LSU greatness: Stink for a half, win by 32 points

That's a pretty darn strong football team, folks. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Ladies and gents, that's a darn strong football team. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

After the Arkansas game, Lenn Robbins of the New York Post asked LSU coach Les Miles if he believed his team might be the greatest in collegiate football history. Eight days later, the Tigers laid sole claim to another superlative:

Worst first half ever authored by the offense of a team this great.

How bad was it? Well, LSU tied a record that can never be broken — fewest first downs in the first two quarters. And this goose egg wasn’t laid by Podunk State against Almighty A&M. This was the championship game of the nation’s best conference, and this monstrosity had been concocted by a team considered the nation’s finest by such a distance it was believed LSU could lose to Georgia and still play for the BCS title. But would an aggregation that couldn’t manage one crummy first down on such a stage deserve a mulligan?

First-half numbers: LSU had 12 total yards, 123 fewer than Georgia, and had completed two passes, one of them underhanded. It trailed 10-0 after one quarter and was still 10 points down six minutes before half. And was the man beneath the white hat concerned?

“That defense,” said Miles, speaking of his own,” and the way it was defending — when they got 10, I thought that would be it [for Georgia]. Quite frankly, we just needed to get it started offensively.”

To Miles’ other attributes — darn good coach, intriguing wordsmith, eater of grass — we can now add “ace prognosticator.” Georgia didn’t score again. LSU started scoring on Tyrann Mathieu’s punt return and never stopped. And we on the periphery can only stand back and wonder: If the Tigers can go an entire first half without benefit of an offense against a opponent of quality, might this be one of the finest teams ever assembled?

What transpired Saturday night beneath the Georgia Dome was truly breathtaking, and I mean that literally: You could see the air — and the life — sucked from the buoyant Bulldogs. Georgia started bold and fast and smart and, if not for two dropped touchdown passes and a missed field goal, would have had a lead so big even Miles would have blanched. But then the Honey Badger started running back kicks and John Chavis’ defense threw a hammerlock on the Bulldog offense, and midway through the third quarter a game that was nearly a runaway one way had gone the other.

Of Mathieu, the eloquent Miles said: “He really is the ‘Honey Badger.’ He takes what he wants. He takes what he gets his hands on.”

Which pretty much describes the Tigers in toto. Down 14-0 against Arkansas, they won 41-17. Down 10-0 against Georgia, they won 42-10. Nobody doubted that this was the nation’s best team before the past two weekends, but now there’s no doubt.

Miles: “Never are they out of it. Never was there any question that they would get their feet, get their bearings and compete.”

This doesn’t mean that this demonstrably superb team will win the national championship. The Tigers will almost surely have to play Alabama again, and how would you like to have your road to the BCS title blocked by a bunch coached by Nick Saban that you had to move heaven and Earth to beat the first time? We can argue forever the fairness of that, but Les Miles wasn’t really in the mood Saturday.

“It’s a tremendous conference top to bottom,” he said. “[Alabama has] a great team. We’ll look forward to competing against them. But I’m going to enjoy this night first.”

And why not? After a unbeaten regular season that closed with come-from-behind comprehensive routs against Top 15 opposition, why should Miles or the Honey Badger or any Tiger fear man or Saban? Tell the truth: When last did you see a team this powerful, this fast, this unyielding?

“That second half, we basically got it going,” Mile said. Then this: “This is a quality group. It’s a great team.”

By Mark Bradley

506 comments Add your comment

Benjamin

December 3rd, 2011
9:36 pm

Small correction: Down 14-0 to Arkansas, they won 41-17. ;)

That aside, I really enjoy your work these days, MB. Even though I didn’t enjoy this game…

george

December 3rd, 2011
9:37 pm

sec east is a joke.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
9:37 pm

Jesus Loves You

December 3rd, 2011
9:38 pm

Benjamin

December 3rd, 2011
9:38 pm

Two other things:

First.

Also, LSU played and beat eight teams this season that were ranked at the time, most in absolute blowout fashion. They’re deservingly the best team of the season, and may be the best I’ve seen since Nebraska in the mid-90s.

Delbert D.

December 3rd, 2011
9:38 pm

Strange to see. Last year, Auburn got way behind in games and won with offense. I’ve never seen a turnabout like this one, though.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
9:38 pm

82DAWG

December 3rd, 2011
9:38 pm

george

December 3rd, 2011
9:39 pm

“we are a year or two away” the dawgs favorite saying since 1980.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
9:39 pm

Can we find an OC that can make adjustments and have the sense to stay with what is working instead of going away from it

rally

December 3rd, 2011
9:41 pm

Just being there was a great feat for these DAWGS….however I am not sold on Crowell and BOBO just flat has to go. They had no offense the entire 3rd quarter. I am not one for conspiracies….but it looked like someone was threatened to lose that game or throw the game. Remember the Quincy Carter debacle vs SC. This game was eerily similar….because they laid a goose egg the second half….IMO

Colonel Forbin

December 3rd, 2011
9:41 pm

I just threw up in my mouth…

misterwax

December 3rd, 2011
9:42 pm

yes, it’s good to give back 7 points!

dublin dawg

December 3rd, 2011
9:42 pm

A tale of two half’s.

First half, 5 missed opportunities, at least 6 clipping or holding penalties on LSU not called including 2 on phantom LSU touchdown on a touchdown that should have been reversed.

Second half, first two plays of first three offenses series we operate under center, something LSU ate alive in first half and more so in second. Offensively and defensively, players and coaches lost focus and intensity.

Best team won but……………….what a first half defense and what might have been.

Hopefully recruits see we have a lot holes but there is hope we didn’t see this time a year ago. We still need to take care of our bowl game unlike last year.

- Greater Baton Rouge News

December 3rd, 2011
9:42 pm

[...] View post: A mark of LSU greatness: Stink for a half, win by 32 points – Atlanta Journal Constitution (bl… [...]

The Greatest B-Back in the History of College Football

December 3rd, 2011
9:43 pm

It was still a great season…..a championship season…we beat Florida, we beat Auburn, we beat Tech……….Go Dawgs!!!!!

Big Country

December 3rd, 2011
9:44 pm

As a GA Tech fan, I still give GA credit for playing for the championship. This just tells me how far Tech is from an elite team like LSU. At some point CPJ has to close the gap. Kudos to UGA to getting to the big game. Maybe Tech will give you a better game next year.

Bobo is Not the Problem

December 3rd, 2011
9:44 pm

That was an embarrassment. No one could catch a pass. Coach not smart enough to punt away from their most dangerous player. Coach getting uber-conservative with a 10-0 lead.

Four other SEC coaches won BCS championships in the last five years. Mark Richt has won zero in 11 years.

FIRE MARK RICHT.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
9:45 pm

Not surprised; our OC is good at calling plays for about a Quarter, which quarter is a toss up. Tonight it was the 1st quarter

Thuga

December 3rd, 2011
9:45 pm

Thuga beat noone this year! If there was ever a year for thuga to win it all, this was the year. Easy schedule, UF and UT down. Pathetic!

wild'n

December 3rd, 2011
9:45 pm

FIRE RICHT! HE HAS TO GO HE IS TERRIBLE! WE MADE THE CHAMPIONSHIP BY WINNING THE WORST DIVISION EVER IN THE SEC! RICHT IS STILL A JOKE

sarfdawg

December 3rd, 2011
9:45 pm

Which bowl for Georgia, Mark? And, when do we find out?

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
9:46 pm

Conservative playcalling after the 1st Quarter

Miamidawg

December 3rd, 2011
9:46 pm

We were out coached and out played. LSU just wanted it more and they were willing to earn it. Same old story for Georgia. Talk trash and can’t live up to it. See you next year for more of the same with this over payed under performing head coach.

Russell Hall

December 3rd, 2011
9:48 pm

A ten win season and headed to a decent bowl. After last year, I can live with that.

BobDawg

December 3rd, 2011
9:48 pm

The Bandwagon fan’s like the “above” can now jump off the bus… I’m still ON…. GIVE US A LITTLE MORE DEPTH AND SOME RUNNING BACKS AND WATCH US CLOSE THE DEAL NEXT YEAR!!!

GEAUX DAWGS!!!!!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
9:48 pm

Lets see how long it will take for the next UGA fan to come on here talking about going undefeated next year

DawgFan1987

December 3rd, 2011
9:48 pm

Good game by Coach Grantham. UGA defense gave it their all. Bobo came out calling great plays to keep LSU off balance but strayed away from it to establish an injured run game against the BEST DEFENSE in the nation (STUPID decision….Bobo should finally be let go), poor UGA receiver play, and inconsistent calls from the refs are all factors that decided that LSU would play in the National Championship. In terms of the Mathieu play, the ball never crossed the goal line and I thought it should have been ruled a fumble out of the endzone resulting in a touchback. Nevertheless, great coaching adjustments by LSU in the 2nd half and they are CLEARLY the #1 team and much luck to you guys in the rematch against Bama. GO DAWGS!!!!! (Richt deserves an extension!)

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
9:49 pm

I just love the 10 win season talk

yet we havent beaten a really good team in 6 yrs

Delbert D.

December 3rd, 2011
9:49 pm

I saw the stats on ESPN’s site, and each team gained 1 yard in the 2nd quarter. That doesn’t look right.

BobDawg

December 3rd, 2011
9:50 pm

I bet Ole Rocky Top would give their right arms and legs for those “lousy coaches” Chavis and Fulmer back…. We have an AD who is nudging this program in the right direction and won’t settle… Let McGarity do his thing and we will be just fine…

Joe Cox

December 3rd, 2011
9:50 pm

Man I love the dogs.

whodat70816

December 3rd, 2011
9:50 pm

Dawgs never stood a chance against LSU. When a team goes an entire 1/2 with 0 first downs, but are only trailing by 3 points at the 1/2….game over!

GEAUX TIGERS!

Gilderoy lockhart

December 3rd, 2011
9:51 pm

Beating the worst fla team in 22 years, a lousy auburn team and a mediocre team doesn’t make for a great season.

texasdog

December 3rd, 2011
9:51 pm

All you Murray fans keep blowing smoke up your a** he is the best quarterback in the SEC. The best quarterbacks win the big games which if I recall he has never done. He is a joke in big games. The best quarterback doesn’t fumble to start the second half and throw pick 6’s.

DetroitBraves

December 3rd, 2011
9:51 pm

I’m no LSU fan but those that support the BCS like to say that the current system makes the regular season a playoff. If that’s true, then it makes no sense that LSU would have to beat Alabama again. Doesn’t matter if Alabama is the second best team or not. They’ve already eliminated Alabama in the regular season playoff. They should now get Ok. State, or Va Tech or someone. Don’t quite get this BCS thing.

Gilderoy lockhart

December 3rd, 2011
9:52 pm

Oops mediocre tech team

Pago Pago DAWG

December 3rd, 2011
9:52 pm

Pre-season 2012….# 30,just above Akron. Sad.

BobDawg

December 3rd, 2011
9:52 pm

Congrats to LSU also like DAWGFAN 87 says… we will be just fine in the coming years !!! GO DAWGS

sarfdawg

December 3rd, 2011
9:53 pm

I am not a Bobo fan, but what did you want today? There were nine dropped passes – nine! That cost Georgia the game, plain and simple. We had a shot to be up three touchdowns, but the receivers failed miserably. The offensive line was getting shoved all over the place – bigger doesn’t mean better. Bobo has his lousy calls, but it’s not on him today.

Dawg48

December 3rd, 2011
9:53 pm

Flat
You can’t blam the loss on bobo………
The game plan was fine we had dropped passes….
We played toe to toe with the best team in the country for the first half……
We have no depth at running back you can’t call a game with no threat of a running game.
Every team scripts the first two drives of the game…… If you point the finger point it at the poor exicution and youth at wrong rout running and dropped passes.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
9:53 pm

Never been on this Bandwagon and wont be on it next year either until we can beat a good team and stop losing 2 games+ due to conservative play calling

Heck can we beat a top 10 team for once its been years

wins-by-a-link

December 3rd, 2011
9:54 pm

Great first half by Georgia but not enough depth on Dog squad to stand up to LSU in second half, Georgia’s defense is good but spent too much time on the field in second half while the offense was being man handled by the Tiger defense, Dropped passes by Dog recievers really hurt, Instead of going out at half leading 20-7 they only led by 10-7. Georgia has a long way to go to ever match LSU’s talent but so does everyone else except maybe Bama

dublin dawg

December 3rd, 2011
9:54 pm

CRM deserves another year but Bobo must GO! A few good quarters of play calling in a whole season not enough.

Delbert D.

December 3rd, 2011
9:55 pm

I don’t like Danielson’s idea for a playoff, either. By the time the BCS contract expires, something needs to be worked out so a BCS can never be part of the college football scene again.

BobDawg

December 3rd, 2011
9:55 pm

There were 10 other teams that wanted to play in this game and couldn’t… Same two teams in next years game and we will close the DEAL!!!

DawgFan1987

December 3rd, 2011
9:55 pm

We love to criticize Richt when he’s actually a good coach (check his record). The best we’ve had since Dooley. So for all you dopes out there that wants him fired, who will take his place……Kirby Smart? Doubt it! He’s earned the right to turn things around and he has. Bobo is the real problem! We complain that the division was down, who cares….WE STILL WON 10 IN A ROW! They did what they were suppose to do……JUST WIN BABY. Great season, great coach, and R.I.P. to the best…..Larry Munson! We miss you!!!!!

DetroitBraves

December 3rd, 2011
9:56 pm

@Delbert D., I missed Danielson’s idea. What did he have?

BobDawg

December 3rd, 2011
9:56 pm

FLAT TIRE… I hear ya and valid points… we took a huge step this year…

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
9:57 pm

Dawg48

I understand we dropped passes, but the game plan changed after the 1st qtr

Thats my problem with Bobo as Ive said all year. Bobo calls a good 1 or 2 qtrs but stops calling plays that were successful or cannot make adjustments

2nd half 1st possession and we run the ball when we were successful in the shotgun throwing crossing routes

Come on