It’s Thursday morning, LSU fans, and that means Saturday is only two days away. I know that feels like an eternity, especially since there wasn’t any LSU football last weekend, but today’s edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing is here to hold you over. Today in the Briefing we’re going to capitalize on a probably-no-longer-hip internet trend, take our weekly look at historical teams that are similar to LSU and revisit Wednesday’s discussion about Mike the Tiger. Let’s get to it.
Throwback Thursday: LSU edition
Today is October 13, which just might be the spookiest date of the year. October is a month for frights and the 13th is a day that’s been immortalized by one classic slasher flick and a near-infinite amount of ripoffs and unnecessary sequels. Just be glad today’s not Friday or else we’d have a real spookfest on our hands.
Instead, what we have is an interesting day in LSU football history. Dating back to 2001, the last three games that LSU has played on Oct. 13 have been decided by a combined 12 points. Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to revisit these memorable moments in LSU history:
Oct. 13, 2001: No. 18 LSU beats Kentucky 29-25
Down three against Kentucky in the fourth quarter, quarterback Rohan Davey led the 2001 LSU Tigers 80 yards in just over three minutes to provide the winning score, a 6-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Clayton, giving the Tigers a lead with 13 seconds left. The win snapped LSU from a two-game losing streak and helped LSU on its way to an SEC title and a Sugar Bowl victory in the second year of the Nick Saban era.
Oct. 13 2007: No. 1 LSU falls to No. 17 Kentucky 43-37 in three overtimes
2007 was a weird football year, and perhaps no game was weirder than Kentucky’s triple overtime victory over the top-ranked Tigers. Behind a 134-yard receiving day from Steve Johnson, who went on to be a three-time 1,000 yard receiver in the NFL, Kentucky upset LSU in one of the biggest wins in Wildcats history. But it’s hard to be bitter about this one if you’re an LSU fan. Everything kind of worked out in the end.
Oct. 13, 2012: No. 9 LSU beats No. 3 South Carolina 23-21
This was the day that, if you didn’t already know who Jeremy Hill was, he made sure you did. On a day where LSU’s defense held South Carolina’s star running back Marcus Lattimore to 35 yards on 13 carries, Hill rushed 17 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns, handing Lattimore, Connor Shaw, Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks their first loss of the season.
You are who you play like
As we do every Thursday on the Briefing, it’s time to take a look at ESPN and NumberFire’s “Similar Teams” matrix, a tool that compares college football’s 2016 teams to teams from recent memory based on how they’ve performed and how they’re projected to finish the season.
But since LSU hasn’t played a game since last time we looked at this projections, not much has changed as far as the data goes. So instead of our regular list of five teams, let’s take a more in-depth look at two of the team’s LSU has consistently been compared to.
As 94 percent and 93 percent matches, the 2014 and 2013 Wisconsin Badgers are the third- and fifth-most comparable teams to this year’s LSU Tigers. And that makes sense on one side of the ball; all three teams had defenses run by coordinator Dave Aranda. But a closer look at the numbers makes things a little more interesting, and optimistic for LSU fans.
|Statistic||2016 LSU Tigers||2014 Wisconsin Badgers||2013 Wisconsin Badgers|
|Scoring Offense||25.2 PPG (94th nationally)||34.6 PPG (29th nationally)||34.8 PPG (27th nationally)|
|Rushing Offense||237 YPG (20th nationally)||320 YPG (4th nationally)||283 YPG (8th nationally)|
|Passing Offense||161 YPG (112th nationally)||148 YPG (118th nationally)||197 YPG (95th nationally)|
|Total Offense||398 YPG (79th nationally)||469 YPG (22nd nationally)||480 YPG (18th nationally)|
|Scoring Defense||14.8 PPG (7th nationally)||20.8 PPG (17th nationally)||16.3 PPG (6th nationally)|
|Rushing Defense||108 YPG (18th nationally)||126 YPG (23rd nationally)||103 YPG (5th nationally)|
|Passing Defense||218 YPG (52nd nationally)||168 YPG (4th nationally)||202 YPG (17th nationally)|
|Total Defense||326 YPG (21st nationally)||294 YPG (4th nationally)||305 YPG (7th nationally)|
By just looking at these stats, these three teams look like extreme versions of one another. Both teams heavily rely on their rushing attacks and disregard their mediocre-at-best passing games. And Aranda’s defenses are stingy across the board. If anything, one would actually expect LSU’s already strong defense to get even better as this season goes on based purely on this track record.
But stats are one thing. Wins and losses are another. And these Wisconsin teams, which LSU at least superficially resembles, were quite good. In 2013, Wisconsin went 9-4 and in 2014 Wisconsin went 11-3 and lost the Big Ten Championship to the eventual national champions. Yes, the Badgers lost that game 59-0 to a third-string quarterback, but that looks far less embarrassing since Ohio State beat Alabama and Oregon.
If LSU can round out the season with records comparable to those Gary Andersen led Wisconsin teams, there’s a really good chance that Ed Orgeron keeps his job as LSU’s head coach. Just saying.
Funeral for a Friend
After the sad news that LSU’s live mascot Mike VI had died came out Tuesday afternoon, representatives from all over the college sports world reached out with their condolences and memories of Mike. But, naturally, no group rallied stronger and in bigger numbers than LSU loyalists.
In response to Mike’s unfortunate early passing, a memorial service was organized for the tiger who had served as LSU’s mascot since 2007. SEC Country’s Alex Hickey was on hand and captured this video of the proceedings.
Along the same lines, in Wednesday’s Briefing, I asked you guys to share some of your stories about Mike in the comments. The most touching comment came from Brandon Douglas. Brandon is deployed in service right now and said he’ll be home for the LSU-Alabama game, so he bought tickets to the game, expressly because his 5-month-old daughter had never met Mike. Obviously, things didn’t work out. But Brandon presented an interesting alternative to LSU’s situation in replacing Mike. Instead of buying a tiger from a zoo or wildlife sanctuary, Brandon proposes LSU rescues a tiger from a difficult living place.
(Reminder: If you have any comments on Mike, LSU football, or just the general state of this column, use that comments section to your advantage. I read your comments on here and on Facebook, and I respond too. Let’s interact!)
It’s always baseball season
LSU’s baseball season won’t officially begin until next year, but it’s never too early to start thinking about it. And it’s worth thinking about right now, because Baseball America released its list of the best recruiting classes in college baseball yesterday, and LSU slotted in at No. 4 on that list. The Tigers’ class ranked behind Ole Miss, North Carolina and Florida. Fellow SEC schools South Carolina (No. 11), Arkansas (No. 12), Vanderbilt (No. 14), Tennessee (No. 18), Auburn (No. 21) and Georgia (No. 24) also cracked the top 25.
The recruiting class brought in seven pitchers and six position players.
You’re doing my job for me!
Wednesday was Media Day for LSU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, and there was no shortage of news that came out of the day. I was there and I’ll be pacing myself and rolling out content from the day over the next couple of days. Be sure to check back to SEC Country for those stories.
But for now, I’ll leave you with an example of the women’s basketball team cutting out the middle man (me) and doing the reporting on its own. Watch this video below as redshirt freshman forward Ayana Mitchell interviews freshman center Faustine Aifuwa (pronounced uh-FOO-uh) about her day in the spotlight, and her sweet dance moves.
— LSU WomensBasketball (@LSUwbkb) October 13, 2016