LSU Football: Will the Tigers Finish the 2010 Season Strong?

Billy DayCorrespondent INovember 12, 2010

True Freshman Tyrann Mathieu
True Freshman Tyrann MathieuKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In the beginning of the 2010 football season, the SEC media came out with their pre-season picks for the SEC Western Division, and LSU was picked to finish 4th which was a surprise to most Tiger fans. Alabama, Auburn, and Arkansas were all picked ahead of LSU. 

I guess LSU was considered to be too young, but apparently the media pundits did not pay much attention to the last several years when LSU has been landing recruiting classes in the top 5 or 10 of Rivals.com.

As this season has played out so far, LSU has lost only to Auburn (the No 2 team in the land) and they defeated Alabama (the former No 1 team in the land), but they still have Ole Miss and Arkansas left to play.  

As the 2010 season has unfolded to this point, after 9 games, LSU is now ranked second only to undefeated Auburn in the SEC West with an 8-1 record and 5-1 in the SEC after their monumental victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide this past Saturday.

After their big victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide, the LSU Tigers have now been vaulted to the No 5 ranking in the latest BCS standings, and they are the highest ranked one loss team in the BCS.

This Saturday, however,  LSU will begin it's final stretch run to end of the season against The University of Louisiana at Monroe.  

ULM is not considered to be any real threat to LSU as they are a 32 point underdog, but as we have seen in past games,  LSU has shown a tendency to play to the level of their competition.

Good examples of this tendency are their games against McNeese State this year, and games against Louisiana Tech last year and Troy State the year before when the Tigers needed second half rallies to defeat the Bulldogs and the Trojans.  

If LSU is to finish this season strong and set themselves up for a big bowl game, the focus and intensity they had in the Alabama Game must continue this week and beyond.

An In-State Team like ULM circled this game against the Big Boys in Louisiana a long time ago and they would love nothing more than to have the chance to pull off a big upset against the Bayou Bengals.  So it will be mandatory for LSU to come out with full team effort and continue their focus and treat ULM as a threatening foe like another SEC rival. 

The ULM game will also be LSU's last opportunity to play against an undermanned squad that will allow them to focus on turning up their offense and defensive strategies with intensity for the remainder of the season.  

The Tigers should continue to use both Jefferson and Lee, but I think it is time to let Jarrett Lee open up the down field passing game to take advantage of the terrific talent LSU has in these positions.   

As we saw in Saturday's game against Alabama, LSU will need to have a balanced offensive output in order to put points on the board against Ole Miss and Arkansas.  Both are teams will put points on the board, and even though LSU's defense has been great the Tigers will still need a balanced offense to win these games. 

These final two games are big border state rivalry games and there is a trophy given for each game. The LSU vs Ole Miss game is the Magnolia Trophy and the LSU vs Arkansas game is the Golden Boot Trophy.  

Ole Miss is one of LSU's oldest and most intense rivalry games dating back to at least the 50s, and this year LSU feels they owe Ole Miss and Houston Nutt in particular some pay back for the last two years.

After the 2008 game played in Baton Rouge, Houston Nutt sort of rubbed it in a little with his remarks about how much fun it is to play in Baton Rouge.  

Then last year's Ole Miss game is known as the "Clock Management Game" where Les Miles and Staff had every chance in the world to win this game but they failed to manage the clock very well and LSU ran out of time before being able to kick the winning field goal.

The national media has almost branded Les Miles for that game and jokes have even been made about his botched end game Clock Management problems.  

So I would think Les Miles will also be highly motivated himself to set things straight against Ole Miss and Houston Nutt this year.   

LSU's regular season finale game will be against the Arkansas Razorbacks and it will be played in Little Rock Arkansas's War Memorial Stadium.

Within the last 10 years, both teams have been very competitive with each other and  the rivalry has begun to really grow in intensity.  Houston Nutt (the current Ole Miss Coach) is a big part of the growth of this rivalry.  The winner takes possession of the Golden Boot at the end of the game. 

This years game will feature Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett as the top ranked passer in the SEC going against LSU's top ranked SEC defense and it promises to be one heck of a matchup.

While LSU's defense will certainly have to do their part to insure an LSU victory, it will have to be a balanced LSU offense that will need to score enough points for the Tigers  to prevail against this very good Arkansas Team. 

The Tigers cannot afford a slip up in these last three games if they expect to keep their slim hopes of an SEC Championship game alive or finish their season strong and land in a BCS Bowl game such as  the Sugar Bowl.  

The beginning of the end all starts this Saturday for LSU against ULM.  

Are the LSU Tigers ready to finish their season strong ?