The LSU Tigers and Arkansas Razorbacks never disappoint, and in the 2013 version of the "Battle for the Golden Boot," the future met the present.
Turkey and dressing might have stalled LSU's explosiveness in the first three quarters, but a resurgence led by a true freshman quarterback allowed the Tigers to hold on to the "boot" in a 31-27 winning effort against Arkansas.
With Anthony Jennings hitting fellow freshman Travin Dural for the game-winning score, the Tigers edged the Razorbacks in yet another classic.
But what was learned in final regular-season game? Dive inside for some postgame nuggets.
He cared, guys. He really cared.
Zach Mettenberger's collegiate career has been a storied one. He was kicked off the Georgia Bulldogs and after junior-college ball, he joined the Tigers, where he partied hard off the field and undoubtedly enjoyed his stay.
However, he took his career at LSU seriously, and that was obvious in his senior season, when he improved and led the Tigers to one of its most explosive offensive seasons ever.
In the victory against Arkansas, he became the third LSU quarterback in school history to pass for over 3,000 yards. Sadly, the game ended with Mettenberger on crutches, following a knee injury. However, the tears that fell down his face after the game beautifully portrayed the effort this man gave for the Tigers. Undoubtedly, he'll be remembered as one of the all-time LSU greats.
Jarvis Landry is a magician when the ball takes flight.
As Landry climbed over an Arkansas defender in midair and reeled in a fourth-quarter catch, my phone buzzed with messages like—"how the (explicit) did he catch that?"
It reminded me of the beginning of the season when Landry told us after practice that his teammates don't credit him with amazing catches anymore. It's just expected.
That's largely due to his "hands-of-Velcro" catch against Arkansas last season. I thought that was the best catch I'd ever seen, but Landry somehow, someway upped himself in the 2013 clash against Arkansas.
You all questioned me.
A week ago, I wrote a piece saying why Odell Beckham was the MVP of this team. With him in the game, the Tigers' passing game opened up and an effective running game followed.
But as soon as he went out of the game at the beginning of the second, this offense had a meltdown. Mettenberger was repeatedly sacked, despite plenty of time provided by his offensive line.
Because Arkansas concentrated on Landry, the Tigers had an eye-popping five rushing yards in the second quarter. Arkansas' pass defense allows 235.3 yards per game, and in the first half, the Hogs limited LSU to 67 passing yards. You better believe an absent Beckham made that stat.
There's no excuse for Rashard Robinson sitting during any of the game's action.
Without Robinson, this pass defense looked like it was playing on ice against Brandon Allen of all quarterbacks.
Seriously, it was mind-numbing, especially after the defense stagnated Johnny Manziel last game. And then, Mr. Robinson came in.
And though he wasn't perfect, he took away one-half of the field with lockdown coverage, forcing Allen to pick on Tre'Davious White's side. Robinson is a future shutdown corner for the Tigers, and he's proving it on a weekly basis.
Terrence Magee and Jeremy Hill were one of the best combination backs in the 2013 season.
Magee and Leonard Fournette have the potential to be even better next season.
With another season under his belt, Magee will be presumably better than he was this season, which is saying a lot, considering his last two games (207 rushing yards and three touchdowns).
If Fournette, one of the top recruits in the country, decides to play football at LSU, he and Magee will be a force in the running game for the Tigers.
Speaking of the future...slap hands! All around now! You over there, get hyped. It's party time in Baton Rouge.
So what were we saying earlier in the week? Panic spread throughout the fanbase as many started to take notice that Mettenberger, Landry, Beckham and Hill were all likely NFL-bound next season.
No worries. Jennings, Magee and Travin Dural got this. Jennings showed the poise of a veteran in the closing minutes of the game with an incredible game-winning drive down the field—clutch in every sense of the word.
And even though it came against the 11th pass defense in the SEC, the fact that the moment wasn't too big for him reveals what type of playmaker he could be.
In the most exciting conclusion of the LSU Tigers season, less than 80,000 fans were present to witness it. That shouldn't come as a surprise, though.
In fact, has more than 80,000 filled the stadium at any point of the regular season? I won't preach about the fans this week, because I did that last Saturday.
However, the disinterest of the LSU fanbase came across the CBS broadcast loud and (not so) proud.
Jalen Mills is a utility player on defense.
Mills, though he makes mistakes and throws his arms in the air in angst at times, is one of the more valuable players this defense has.
Let's see, Mills has gone from playing cornerback to nickel to safety in a season's time. He's had his miscues here and there, but all in all, he's played solid for the Tigers.
It doesn't hurt having a player whom you can shuffle at any position in the secondary, and Mills is that type of player for the Tigers.
Dural might have broke away in the closing minutes for a game-winning touchdown, but that doesn't negate the fact that LSU's wide receiver corps will be slim next season.
Indeed, Dural could be a breakout star for the Tigers at wide receiver, but he's going to need help without Kadron Boone, Landry or Beckham.
Looking at you John Diarse, Avery Peterson and Quantavius Leslie. Those three names will be heavily counted on to produce alongside Dural.
Will these four players be able to carry the passing game in 2014, or will the loss of LSU's dynamic duo (Landry and Beckham) be too much for LSU to overcome?
"It's a forced rivalry."
Yeah, I'm not so sure about that.
The Tigers and Hogs won't play on Friday after Thanksgiving anymore, because LSU and Texas A&M will become the new rivalry to close the regular season. The Arkansas-LSU rivalry apparently wasn't good enough, but are we forgetting the amazing finishes in the past decade?
From the "Miracle on Markham" to the 2007 triple overtime to this afternoon's conclusion, this rivalry has produced so many memorable moments. Don't ever get it twisted—LSU vs. Arkansas is anything but a pretentious rivalry.