SEC Championship Game: 5 Things We Learned About the LSU Tigers
Towards the end of the first half of the SEC championship game, LSU fans were wondering whether their team would get their act together, while the rest of the nation sat at attention, rooting passionately for Georgia to shake up the BCS standings.
But with 5:48 left in the second quarter, Honey Badger lit a fuse.
After Tyrann Mathieu's 62-yard punt-return touchdown, the Tigers never looked back.
Following the Kenny Hillard show during the third quarter—which saw the true freshman run for two scores and catch for a third—LSU closed out their victory against Georgia and solidified their claim to the SEC championship, a perfect record and undisputed status as the single best team in the country.
We'll wait until tomorrow's BCS standings come out before we begin the prognostication about the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans, but for now, the SEC championship game showed us five things we absolutely know about the No. 1-ranked LSU Tigers.
No. 5: Honey Badger Should Change His Name to "Heisman Badger"
One of the most memorable moments in the history of the SEC Championship came towards the end of the second quarter, when Tyrann Mathieu fielded a punt from his own 38-yard line.
With a convoy of blockers setting the wall, Mathieu ducked and weaved past a hopelessly-complacent Georgia special-teams unit into the end zone.
What makes the moment so memorable (and the Honey Badger such a dangerous weapon) is that until then, LSU's offense was anemic, failing to convert a single third down in the first half.
Right about then, the whole country (read: a nation of Tigers, Tide and SEC haters) was screaming to itself "How can LSU be No. 1 in the country without getting a single first down in a half?"
The Tigers looked weak in the first half. They needed a spark, and this year, that spark was a Honey Badger.
There is no better example of how valuable a single player was to his team, and while he's not projected to win the Heisman Trophy, he should definitely be considered at least a finalist, and at most, next year's front-runner.
No. 4: LSU Doesn't Need to Blitz When They've Got a D-Line Like That
Between Michael Brockers, Bennie Logan and Barkevious Mingo, the Tigers might not ever blitz again.
The twin towers on the defensive line, Brockers and Logan, wreaked havoc on the Georgia passing and running attacks, as the Bulldogs managed just 78 yards on the ground.
Georgia QB Aaron Murray threw the Bulldogs' only touchdown in the first quarter, but the rest of his day was marred by blurred vision, bad reads, big hands in his face and two crucial interceptions.
But the play of the day for the defensive line came early in the third, when Bennie Logan stripped Murray of the football, forcing a fumble, recovered by none other than the Honey Badger.
Mathieu's recovery led to quick points on offense, but the pressure Murray faced from a relentless pass rush made LSU's job on offense easier, consistently finding themselves the benefactors of field position through most of the second half.
No. 3: It Really Doesn't Matter Who's Starting at QB for LSU
Five completions on 13 attempts, netting 30 yards.
That was Jordan Jefferson's best, apparently, in his final SEC championship game.
You read that right.
To put it in perspective, LSU had a larger margin of victory (32 points) than the number of passing yards they accumulated.
There really isn't anything left to say, except...
No. 2: The Tigers Really Are the No. 1 Team in the Country
...Which only allows for one logical conclusion:
No. 1: Alabama Will Face LSU in the National Championship Game
The resumes of Alabama and Oklahoma State are similar, but with one glaring omission:
Oklahoma State hasn't already played LSU.
Without a quarterback, and essentially without any kind of passing game, the Tigers defeated Georgia by 32 points.
As little doubt as there is left that LSU is the best team in the country, that's how little doubt there should be that Alabama is second.
The Cowboys, who were once led by current LSU head coach Les Miles, have played a fairly good schedule, but they've been closer to defeat more often than the Crimson Tide.
The only team that had a chance at beating Alabama was No. 1-ranked LSU, who, in fact, beat them.
Oklahoma State nearly lost to Kansas State, nearly lost to Texas A&M and Texas, and their one loss came against a much-less fearsome opponent: Iowa State, at the time sporting a 5-4 record.
The only team that defeated Alabama was the best team in the country. Iowa State, of the 3-6 conference record, got its third conference win against Oklahoma State.
Based on how good LSU was today against Georgia, Alabama can proudly say that they're the second-best team in the country, and the rematch, as I've said before, will be televised.
The stars have aligned.