LSU Football: 3 Reasons the Tigers Will Be the Last Undefeated Team Standing
The Tigers are 3-0 in the SEC so far this season, and although their game against their toughest opponent this season (Alabama) isn't for a few more weeks, the Tigers look poised to be able to finish the 2011 college football season undefeated.
The Tigers have overcome adversity, doubters and a No. 2-ranked school to get where they are today. A team that is so passionate and close-knit is hard to stop from winning once they get going on the type of run the Tigers are on.
The Tigers' Defense
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The success of the LSU Tigers' defense has been well-documented so far this season. They rank eighth in scoring defense, allowing just 12.5 points a game and 254 yards a game—good for third in the nation in total defense.
The Tigers' defense is a total team effort, and overall has 13 sacks—48 TFL—and has created 15 turnovers (eight fumbles and seven interceptions). Despite the total team effort, the Tigers have individuals who are so highly-skilled alone that they can change a game with one or two plays.
Cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne are the superstars of this Tigers defense. They rarely get beat down the field, and opposing offenses like to shy away from throwing their direction because of their tremendous pass-defending abilities. Claiborne and Mathieu have combined for 65 tackles, six tackles for a loss, four interceptions, six passes broken up and four forced fumbles. They are easily the top CB combo in the nation.
Not only are the Tigers' corners talented, but so too is their defensive line.
Led by the likes of Sam Montgomery, Michael Brockers and Barkevious Mingo, the Tigers' D-line has been dubbed the "Freaks." The D-line of the Tigers has combined for 124 tackles through six games, and 29 of them for a loss. They have also racked up 10.5 of LSU's 13 sacks.
But the most impressive stat from the defensive line of the Tigers is their rush-defense. The Tigers allow an average of just 69 yards a game on the ground, which will be integral for the success of the team the rest of the season.
It is apparent that if the Tigers' defense continues to have the success they have been having through the first six games this season, they cannot lose a game. Their defense is that good.
Jordan Jefferson and Versatility at Quarterback
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When LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson was arrested and subsequently suspended in August, the LSU Tigers' success this season looked to be in jeopardy.
In Week 4 of the college football season Jefferson's fortunes turned for the better, and the NCAA reinstated him.
But by this point, Jarrett Lee had already become the starter, and head coach Les Miles had said that will not change, but Jefferson will see some reps. So far Miles has stayed true to his word, and Jefferson has thrown for a touchdown and rushed for one in two limited appearances since being reinstated.
The importance of Jefferson to the Tigers being the last team to lose a game is huge because he allows the Tigers more versatility on offense. Jefferson is a much more mobile quarterback than Lee, and his limited appearances in games allow the Tigers and Les "the Mad Hatter" Miles options to catch the defense off-guard for big plays.
Jefferson adds versatility and a different dimension to the Tigers offense and allows the Tigers to have what could be the best backup in college football. If Lee goes down or is unable to compete, they have the option to throw Jefferson in, and he is fully capable of leading LSU to victory.
The Tigers' versatility at quarterback with Jefferson will allow LSU to be the last team to lose—or not lose at all—this season.
Ability to Beat Alabama
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The biggest challenge and what seems to be the only opportunity the LSU Tigers could suffer a loss this season is when they travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide Nov. 5.
Luckily for the Tigers they have the talent and ability to defeat the Crimson Tide, and if they win, they will most likely be in the BCS National Championship Game come Jan. 9, 2012 in New Orleans.
The Tigers' rush-defense, as previously mentioned, is ranked fourth in the nation, allowing just 69 yards on the ground per game. If the rush-defense lives up to its prowess, they will be able to shut down the nation's No. 8 running back in Trent Richardson, who has 11 touchdowns on the year and is averaging 121 yards per game. Richardson is Alabama's biggest offensive threat, and with the Tigers neutralizing him, their passing game with A.J. McCarron won't be able to win them this game.
The game will be a battle of defenses, but with the versatility the Tigers have on offense since the return of Jordan Jefferson, as well as the recent resurgence of receiver Russell Shepard, the Tigers' offense is finally becoming effective (which was displayed in their big 41-11 victory over Florida this past weekend). The 'Bama defense may be ranked first in points against and third in total defense, but the Tigers' offense could be at their peak when they meet in November—spelling a loss for the Crimson Tide.
The Tigers have all the talent and ability in the world to hand Alabama their first loss, just as they did one year ago, and this will allow the Tigers to be the last team to suffer a loss or go without a defeat this season.