The margin for error for LSU was eliminated two weeks ago, when head coach Les Miles and the Tigers dropped a 44-41 heartbreaker between the hedges to Georgia for their first loss and conference loss of the season.
Now, things get interesting.
No. 10 LSU will host No. 17 Florida on Saturday afternoon in Death Valley in what is the second of a series of elimination games for LSU in the SEC and BCS Championship hunt. Every game from here on out is must-win for the Tigers, and that's a long and winding road littered with potholes.
After hosting Florida this week, the Tigers have road games at Ole Miss and Alabama, home games with Texas A&M and Arkansas, with a cakewalk against Furman mixed in. Meanwhile, its primary competition for the SEC West throne, Alabama, has the Tigers and an end-of-the-season rivalry game with Auburn as its two toughest challenges remaining.
If LSU drops another game, it's unlikely that Alabama will lose two conference games to fall back into a tie with the Tigers, even if the Tigers beat the Tide heads up.
|Date||LSU (5-1, 2-1 SEC)||Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC)|
|Oct. 12||Florida (No. 17)||at Kentucky|
|Oct. 19||at Ole Miss||Arkansas|
|Nov. 9||at Alabama (No. 1)||LSU (No. 10)|
|Nov. 16||Bye||at Mississippi State|
|Nov. 23||Texas A&M (No. 9)||Chattanooga|
|Nov. 30||Arkansas (11/29)||at Auburn|
LSU is a flawed football team.
It currently ranks seventh in the SEC in total defense, giving up 367 yards per game, and has given up 437 yards per game or more to each of its three SEC opponents. The defense has shown flashes of brilliance, but there's way too much talent on that roster to only show flashes.
It's a team that is suddenly dependent on its offense putting its foot on the gas and speeding away, as was the case in Saturday's 59-26 win at Mississippi State, a game that was much closer than the final score indicates. Luckily for LSU, it can win those games thanks to the offensive resurgence under first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
That still could be a problem this week against the Gators, because quarterback Zach Mettenberger and that Tiger offense hasn't seen anything like what it's going to see this weekend when the Gators roll into Death Valley.
They lead the SEC in total defense, giving up just 217 yards per game, and have held opponents to 50 or fewer rushing yards in three of their first five games—including in a loss to Miami in Week 2.
Will LSU win the SEC West?
If they can get past the Gators, they still have to win what will likely be a similar style game in Tuscaloosa over Alabama and a shootout with Texas A&M.
That's not easy.
LSU can turn things around defensively, and catching reserve Gator quarterback Tyler Murphy in Death Valley in just his third career start could be the cure to what ails defensive coordinator John Chavis' crew.
If it isn't, LSU will continue to live dangerously all season long. Considering the stakes, that's a precarious position to be in if the Tigers want to win the SEC and make a case to play in the BCS National Championship Game.