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Why West Virginia's Orange Bowl Win Helps LSU's Case as Greatest CFB Team Ever

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers prepares to lead his team against the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2011 SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Dan VastaSenior Writer IIIJanuary 5, 2012

The West Virginia Mountaineers thrashed and dashed apart the Clemson Tigers by setting a few bowl game records in their 70-33 Orange Bowl victory.

Dana Holgorsen’s squad set the record for most points in a quarter (35), most in a half (49) and most total points ever in a bowl game (70).

And yet when they had the LSU Tigers in their backyard back in September, the Bayou Bengals smashed them 47-21!

Morgantown is not a fun place to play at, yet the top-ranked team in the land demolished them with ease.

Les Miles is only one more win away from perhaps capping off the most impressive season in college football history (modern era at least).

LSU has already defeated seven ranked teams, three of them played away from Baton Rouge. These too included question marks at quarterback, and some argued about the program due to suspensions in the middle of the season.

Yet Les found a way to put all the pieces together, and his team fought for him every single game.

The funny thing is that only one game all year was even remotely close, which is why this LSU has already accomplished so much.

Looking back at the few dominant BCS National Championship teams, only Texas and Miami FL come close in terms of talent. However, those two teams did not play half the slate that LSU had to encounter.

Texas may have knocked off a "Goliath" in the BCS title (USC), but they ended up playing just three ranked teams all season before that legendary game.

Miami FL had just four meetings against ranked teams before their BCS title game, and some have put that Canes team among the greatest to have ever played.

Certainly LSU must defeat Alabama to even ponder the thought of truly putting them over the likes of Miami's squad or the few Nebraska squads (’71, ‘95).

Looking at what LSU has already accomplished is nothing short of amazing however. The defense is third against the run (85 YPG), eighth against the pass (166 YPG), third in pass efficiency defense (93 rating), second in total defense (252 YPG) and second in scoring defense (10.5 PPG).

The defensive line reminds many of an NFL-caliber front, and the secondary is filled with ball-hawking superstars Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne.

“The Honey Badger” is as electric of a punt returner as Devin Hester (Miami FL) was, and it is laughable that teams still punt to the kid.

Tigers nation feels that their offense gets no love but make no mistake about it, their offensive line is arguably the best in the country.

We have seen four different backs throughout the stretch run of the season so everybody can stay fresh for the fourth quarter, and Kenny Hilliard is playing like Mariano Rivera as of late. He closes games out by gashing the opposition and he is trucking over defenders with ease.

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers against the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2011 SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

They were physically dominant in their last win (33 days ago) over Georgia and it showed in the second half, specifically in the fourth.

Despite trailing 10-0 right out of the gates, LSU ran roughshod over the speedy Dawgs D for 207 yards. Hilliard toted it eight times for 72 yards, Spencer Ware handled it six times for 13 yards, Michael Ford went for 34 yards on six carries, and Alfred Blue found paydirt and 94 yards on eight carries.

This was all with a quarterback, Jordan Jefferson, that many have doubted for the past three seasons.

Now in his final season, he and the team have been able to put all of the issues and distractions behind them. It surely is remarkable since this team seems to develop and mature better than any other young team we may remember.

That is the scary thing because this is not a senior-laden team by any means. After Jefferson, there are only eight other combined starters that are seniors and the entire two-deep has 24 underclassmen (not counting special teams) that will be expected back next season.

West Virginia’s crazy bowl win over Clemson was indeed ridiculous, but LSU has something even more impressive at task.

If this LSU team were to beat Alabama in next Monday’s BCS National Championship, the record books from West Virginia’s game would not carry a candle to the Bayou Bengals ninth victory over a ranked team.

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