I must admit, I love stats. As a former coach, I would always dissect every imaginable stat to find out any situational tendencies the opposing teams might have. However, occasionally, there are teams that make no statistical sense. Such is the case with the 2011 LSU Tigers.
What makes this Tigers team so special is the box score does not always reflect the actual game. Look at LSU’s last game in the SEC championship versus Georgia. The Bulldogs dominated the box score stats, but were defeated 42-10. UGA won the total yards (296-237), the won the first downs battle (19-13) and the time of possessions battle (36:36-25:24). If the game was played on paper, Georgia won.
This is not the first time this has happened this season, and it might not be the last time this happens this season. In their first matchup versus Alabama, the Tigers won the game 9-6 but were behind Alabama in first downs (17-15), total yards (295-239) and the time of possession.
Many fans and ill-informed media members have declared that Alabama played better but just did not win the game. Alabama very well might win the next matchup, but they were just another victim of the LSU game plan in the first game.
It was not the missed field goals that cost Alabama the ball game, it was the missed opportunities by LSU that kept that game close.
It was LSU that got inside the Alabama 15-yard line three times and only came away with nine points. The Crimson Tide, on the other hand, never got inside the LSU 15-yard line one time. They did get inside the 30 multiple times, but had negative yards once they got inside the 30.
The LSU season is full of statistical examples like these, and opposing teams and fans cite those stats as the reason their team will beat the Tigers—yet LSU is still undefeated.
For example, Arkansas was sure they would have a shot to win because of how West Virginia was able to move the ball through the air. Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith had 463 yards passing and two touchdowns. Tyler Wilson only had 207 yards and one touchdown, and the Razorbacks were defeated 41-17.
LSU plays cat and mouse with their opponents, knowing they will make the plays that are needed when it is time. There are several teams that could point to five or six plays that made the difference. However, they all have one thing in common: they were defeated by LSU.
Over the next three weeks, you will hear one stat after another about why Alabama will win this game, but statistics have nothing to do with LSU’s success.
Alabama might win the 2012 BCS National Championship. However, there is also a great chance the Tide will win the stat battle but lose the game.
LSU is a great football team because they are good on offense, defense and special teams. Each unit has players who can win the game for them.
The bottom line is that the Tigers are the most complete team in the nation regardless of what the stats say.