After absorbing a crushing blow to its College Football Playoff chances against Alabama, LSU was granted the opportunity to bounce right back Saturday at home against a pesky yet beatable Arkansas team.
But the Razorbacks delivered the first punch and continued to pounce on the Bayou Bengals until the clock ran out on a 31-14 defeat.
With two losses, LSU is all but out of the mix for a Playoff spot. In two weeks, LSU went from perhaps the favorite to win the SEC to now a virtual non-factor in the college football landscape.
In doing so, LSU blew a grand opportunity as well.
The top three teams all took care of business, but Baylor slipped up against Oklahoma and Stanford was upset by Oregon. With a win, LSU would have slid up the rankings, likely to No. 7, with the opportunity to continue to rise with a win over Ole Miss this coming weekend.
Instead, for all intents and purposes, LSU’s season is over. The question is who’s the blame for this folly?
The LSU defense allowed 440 yards to Arkansas, the highest total yardage yielded of any game this season. After holding opponents 297.2 yards per game over the first six of the season, LSU has given up 434 yards per game in its last three.
Offensively, the highly-lauded LSU rushing attack has been held to a combined 113 yards over the past two games. It’s not understandable, but somewhat forgivable for Heisman Trophy hopeful Leonard Fournette to struggle against Alabama’s vaunted defense in Tuscaloosa, Ala. However, for the running game to stall at home against Arkansas is a different story.
Sticking with the theme of offense, LSU’s preseason bugaboo has come to fruition. Quarterback Brandon Harris, who was chastised for being merely a game manager early on, has been unable to handle even that responsibility. Harris has thrown two interceptions in as many games — his first two of the season — and has taken seven sacks in that span. His trepidation with throwing the football has hindered the LSU offense.
Harris’ sacks are also a product of a faltering offensive line. Up front was where LSU was winning earlier in the year, and now it’s what’s costing the team. Sacks and the inability to open up running lanes for Fournette have caused an identity crisis for this team, which is unable to win the same way it did just a few short weeks ago.
LSU’s most recent blemish on the season was ultimately the most damaging. It has left us with a lot of questions being asked and fingers being pointed, and for good reason.
From 7-0 to non-relevant was too quick of a roller-coaster for this LSU team. LSU coach Les Miles accepted the blame for the loss Saturday night, but indicated he didn’t have an answer.
I don’t get in the business of calling for coach’s jobs. Nor would I want someone else to call for mine.
However, apologies and promising change can’t fix what happened to LSU’s season. Great teams don’t lose two in a row, and they most certainly don’t drop the second in embarrassing fashion.
With so much promise and the right path toward the postseason, it’s hard to stomach what happened. For a program that is expected to compete for SEC and national championships — one that has already done both under Miles — it would be more difficult to explain why no changes occurred in Baton Rouge, La.
The question is if and when that change will come.