Thursday, January 03, 2008

LSU 2007 Football Season Recap: How They Got There

The most awesome, captivating, exhilerating LSU football season in history came to a close last night, culminating in a 38-24 victory over Ohio State for the BCS championship. It was LSU's second title in 5 years. This is how they got there:

Thurs, August 30
Starkville, Miss. 8:15 p.m.
LSU opened up the season by picking off the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville, Miss. The game was broken open in the second half when LSU got 4 interceptions (6 overall) and put the Tigers offense in easy scoring positions. Senior LSU safety Craig Steltz picked off 3 all by his lonesome and in stood atop the NCAA standings in interceptions for the first two weeks.

Sat, Sep 08
Virginia Tech - Baton Rouge, La. (Tiger Stadium) 8:15 p.m.
The massacre last semester at Virginia Tech weighed heavily as LSU's band played the Tech song before the game. I thought the Hokies would sneak out a win here (I predicted 21-13), but LSU dominated from start to finish for a 48-7 victory. In the process,
Hokies senior QB Sean Glennon lost his starting job to freshman Tyrod Taylor, and the LSU defense got even more praise than before. Quarterback Matt Flynn in two games at this point has completed 29 of 46 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 77 yards and another score. But the biggest theme so far has been Michigan's failure to enter the win column after two tries at the beginning of the season. The speculation has started that Les Miles may leave LSU and go to U-M, his alma mater.

Sat, Sep 15
Middle Tennessee Baton Rouge, La. (Tiger Stadium) 7:00 p.m.
The key of the game was that Matt Flynn didn't play due to a sore ankle; backup and next-year starter Ryan Perrilloux was 20 for 25 for 298 yards and 3 touchdowns. 55-17 LSU

Sat, Sep 22
South Carolina - Baton Rouge, La. (Tiger Stadium) 7:00 p.m. LSU beat No. 12 South Carolina 28-16 in front of 92,530 in Death Valley.

"Ole Ball Coach" Steve Spurrier showed his scorn after LSU kicker Colt David ran around the right end for a 15-yard touchdown on a fake field goal (an instant SportsCenter highlight), and his point-after kick made it 21-7 with 1:10 to play in the half. South Carolina gained only 89 yards of offense in the first half and finished with 261. The Tigers sacked quarterback Blake Mitchell twice and held him to 70 passing yards. The Gamecocks ran for only 17 yards on 27 attempts.

Sat, Sep 29
Tulane - at New Orleans, La. (Louisiana Superdome) LSU (5-0) scored 24 unanswered second-half points in a 34-9 victory on Saturday. Matt Flynn was sacked six times, throwing for 258 yards. His passing was inconsistent in the face of constant pressure and he was intercepted once, finally showing chinks in his armor. But he stayed upright just enough for LSU to take a 10-9 halftime lead in the surprisingly tight game. If not for a pair of Tulane turnovers, Matt Forte's fumble and Anthony Scelfo's interception, the game might have been closer. The next day, LSU moved into the No. 1 spot, prompting Les Miles to famously say "Anybody that voted us No. 1 obviously didn't see the Tulane game." He was right.

Sat, Oct 06
- Baton Rouge, La. (Tiger Stadium) 7:00 p.m. In arguably the most exciting game ever played in LSU’s storied Tiger Stadium in front of the largest crowd in its history, the No. 1-ranked LSU Tigers overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat ninth-ranked Florida, 28-24, in front of record 92,910 emotionally spent fans. The major footnote in the game was Les Miles calling for and the Tigers going 5 for 5 on fourth-down conversions — including two that went for touchdowns.

The Tigers trailed 24-14 at the beginning of the fourth quarter but mustered a 4-yard touchdown pass from Matt Flynn to Demetrius Byrd with 10:15 left in the game on an improbable fourth-down play. The touchdown capped a 5-play, 27-yard drive that was sparked by a crucial interception of a tipped Tim Tebow pass by defensive end Kirtson Pittman at the Florida 27. There was a decibel-level cheer when the public-address announcer informed the 92,910 fans that Stanford had upset No. 2 Southern California in Los Angeles, meaning LSU would take the top spot.

Sat, Oct 13
Kentucky - at Lexington, Ky. (Commonwealth Stadium)LSU was able to cover mistakes by good defense and fortunate execution for weeks before the bottom fell out behind a blue background. No. 17 Kentucky upset the Tigers 43-37 in triple overtime after Charles Scott was stopped on 4th and 2 in the final extra period.
Earlier, LSU came at Kentucky in waves, sending in third- and fourth-string running backs to rack up yards, first downs, and points. With a 27-14 third-quarter lead against a wavering Wildcat defense, as the sun set it seemed like another test passed. With LSU just one pass away from getting into secure field-goal range in the final 30 seconds of regulation, Kentucky's defense — gashed on screens and flat passes all game long in third-down situations — finally reacted to a screen and forced a 57-yard Colt David field goal that just missed on the final play of the fourth quarter.

Sat, Oct 20
Auburn - Baton Rouge, La. (Tiger Stadium) A cardiac clinic of a game, LSU defeat No. 18 Auburn 30-24 behind a harrying-last second touchdown from Matt Flynn to Demetrius Byrd. Instead of calling a timeout with under 25 seconds remaining and running one last play before giving kicker Colt David a chance to win the game, LSU decided to pocket its last timeout and let the clock roll. The game turned in the second half: LSU’s offense was sluggish and out-of-sync in the first half, but recovered to gouge Auburn in the second half, finishing with 488 total yards, 319 of those coming from Flynn’s sharp passing. He completed 22-of-34 including three touchdowns and an interception that wasn’t his fault. He also rushed for 34 crucial yards, mostly in the second half.

Sat, Nov 03
Alabama - at Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Bryant-Denny Stadium)
The third-ranked Tigers did it again, scoring two touchdowns in the final three minutes to stay in the thick of the national championship race with a heart-stopping 41-34 win over No. 17 Alabama.
The game turned when Chad Jones caused a key fumble late and Jacob Hester cashed in moments later with the go-ahead touchdown. With No. 2 Boston College losing 27-17 to Florida State, it let LSU move up another slot in the rankings and the BCS standings.

Sat, Nov 10 Louisiana Tech - Baton Rouge, La. (Tiger Stadium)
7:00 p.m. Matt Flynn passed for 237 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 2 LSU to a comfortable 58-10 triumph over Louisiana Tech that could lift the Tigers back to the top of the national rankings. "I'll be shocked if they're not the national champions at end of the year," Louisiana Tech head coach Derek Dooley said. "They put it to us tonight." Flynn's scoring strikes included a career-long 71-yarder to Terrance Tolliver, which also was a career long reception for the freshman receiver. That was LSU's longest play from scrimmage this season until Tech's secondary over-pursued on a trap play and Jacob Hester broke loose for a career-best 87-yard touchdown run.

Sat, Nov 17 Ole Miss - at Oxford, Miss. (Vaught-Hemingway Stadium)
After a stylish start, forcing two turnovers on goal-line stands in the first half, the Tigers (10-1, 6-1 SEC) defense faltered against the last-place Rebels, giving up a season-high 466 yards. Trindon Holliday returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and the Tigers came up with a couple of pivotal turnovers to hold off Mississippi 41-24 and keep the national championship in their sights. The Tigers clinched their first outright Southeastern Conference Western Division title and set a school record with 10 or more wins for the third straight season.

Fri, Nov 23
Arkansas - Baton Rouge, La. (Tiger Stadium) 1:30 p.m.
It was the Darren McFadden Heisman show: The Razorback runner's rushing touchdowns went for 16 yards in the second quarter, 73 yards in the third period and 9 yards in the second OT as Arkansas stunned the Tigers 50-48 in triple overtime on the Friday after Turkey Day. His TD pass was a flawlessly executed 24-yarder over the middle to Peyton Hillis after McFadden froze the defense with a play-action fake. Peyton Hillis scored four TDs, the last in the third overtime for Arkansas. In the first OT LSU had Arkansas with a 4th and 10 at the 25 but they converted. LSU responded when Matt Flynn found Brandon LaFell for a 9-yard TD, but Matterral Richardson intercepted the 2-point conversion attempt, and Arkansas' bench emptied onto the field in triumph, having ended the nation's longest home winning streak at 19 games.

Tennessee - Atlanta, Ga. (SEC Championship Game) With Flynn banged up and on the sidelines, the Tigers turned to oft-troubled heir apparent Ryan Perrilloux. He didn't win the game, didn't lose it.
Tennessee senior QB Erik Ainge did that, throwing two fourth-quarter interceptions, the first of which LSU's Jonathan Zenon returned for the game-winning 18-yard touchdown with 9:54 left to play for a 21-14 Tigers' victory in the SEC's 16th annual title game. The second interception hurt almost as much. Ainge was driving the Vols toward the game-tying score when he forced a short pass into double coverage and it was picked off by LSU linebacker Darry Beckwith at the LSU 7 with 2:42 left. Les Miles was forced to make an almost-tearful vow to remain at LSU after media reports confirmed he had accepted the job at Michigan.

A win away from playing for the national championship, the West Virginia Mountaineers (10-2, 5-2 Big East) lost to rival Pittsburgh (5-7, 3-4) 13-10.

NO. 4 Missouri beat No. 2 Kansas 36-28, handing the Jayhawks their first loss.

No. 9 Oklahoma beat No. 4 Missouri, 38 -17.

UP NEXT: LSU (11-2) vs. Ohio State (11-1)for All The Marbles aka the National Championship.
LSU rallied from an early 10-0 deficit, taking a 24-10 lead at halftime that held up. Two key plays on special teams helped shift the game — Ricky Jean-Francois blocked a field goal, and LSU took advantage of a roughing-the-kicker penalty. Matt Flynn threw four touchdown passes and LSU made it look easy with a 38-24 win over No. 1 Ohio State, turning the title game into a horrible replay for the Buckeyes. Still, LSU was a runaway No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll. The Tigers received 60 of 65 first-place votes from a national media panel. Georgia, Southern California, Missouri and Ohio State rounded out the top five. Georgia had three first-place votes while Southern Cal and No. 7 Kansas each had one.


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