LSU Cracks the AP Top-5: Just How Good Are the Tigers?

James ReesAnalyst ISeptember 21, 2008

I learned something Saturday while watching LSU beat Auburn in one of the great games of the college football season thus far. 

I learned that LSU’s win over Auburn does not automatically punch their ticket to Atlanta for the SEC championship game, nor does it eliminate Auburn from the running.  

In all the hype leading up to the game, it was a popular sentiment to think that the winner would go on to represent the SEC West in the championship game and the loser would settle for second place.  After all, that’s generally been the case throughout at least the first part of this decade. 

I wasn’t convinced, though.  After watching Auburn barely beat Mississippi State and after witnessing LSU’s quarterbacks not throw a single touchdown pass against North Texas, I chose to withhold judgment.  Let’s see what they do against a quality team, right? And oh yeah, there’s also that other top-10 team named Alabama that might have a say in things too. 

So LSU wins the “Tiger Bowl” against Auburn, overcoming a shaky quarterback performance and sealing the victory with their defense.  What do I think now?  Can LSU start making hotel reservations at the Atlanta Hilton?  Not exactly.  In fact, my suspicions were confirmed.

The jury is still out on the Tigers as far as I’m concerned.  Sure they beat Auburn, but if you think about it, just how good are the Plainsmen?  I didn’t see much to convince me they were worthy of that top-10 ranking.

And LSU has flaws.  Inconsistent quarterback play and inexperience in the secondary are nails in LSU’s tire.  They’re not big nails and the tire will still roll despite them, but if they’re left unattended, it just might lead to a blowout.

That doesn’t mean LSU isn’t a good team, though.  They boast a phenomenal defensive line and a great offensive line—two vital requirements for any aspiring champion.

Looking at their schedule, three monster games loom on the Tiger’s horizon.  At Florida and home against Georgia and Alabama.  LSU will need a much-improved effort from the quarterback position to get through that stretch and on to Atlanta. 

The good news is LSU has taken the first step.  Auburn is out of the way and they’re still undefeated.  A trip to Atlanta is certainly attainable, but surely not a forgone conclusion. The Tigers will have to navigate some dangerous waters from here on out and Alabama and Auburn will be waiting should LSU falter.

What happens between now and December is anyone’s guess. That’s just the nature of the beast in the Southeastern Conference.