With LSU trailing Wisconsin 13-0 in the second half, I sent a message to my editor: “Brandon Harris is still the brick that will drag Les Miles to the bottom of the Mississippi.”
The football gods heard me, and promptly gifted the Tigers a pair of turnovers. The first was a pick-6, and the second was a fumble recovery that allowed Harris — LSU’s junior quarterback — to play hero for a brief moment. He tossed a 31-yard wheel route to Leonard Fournette and a screen to Travin Dural that turned a 13-7 deficit into a 14-13 lead.
He even performed valiantly in the shadow of his own end zone on the next drive, completing a pair of first-down passes after Wisconsin pinned LSU at its own 2.
But when the moment came for his true test, it was 2015 all over again.
Facing a 16-14 deficit with the clock running out, Harris and Fournette led the Tigers into position for a 47-yard field goal that would win the game.
A foot injury forced Fournette out of the game, leaving Harris without the security blanket that has covered most of the Tigers’ offensive ineptitude for the past year. And, sure as sin, LSU’s signal-caller — the guy who Fournette and Miles and every Kool-Aid drinking fool (yes, me included) believed would be better this time around — tossed an ugly interception.
With 57 seconds on the clock of the very first game, LSU’s College Football Playoff hopes were effectively dashed.
The final line for Harris: 12-of-21 for 131 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.
Louisiana State University might have the most talented football program in America. It put what seemed like two-dozen players on our SEC 101 list last month. The defense is rock solid. The wide receivers have NFL talent. The running back is probably the best player in the country.
None of that could change the final result on Saturday evening, and none of that is going to change the fact that LSU can’t move the ball through the air when needed.
A national championship — and Miles’ place on the sideline in 2017 — became pipe dreams when the last ball at Lambeau Field left Harris’ hand.