Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Night Thanksgiving Was Saved

November 18, 2006

LSU (8-2) vs. Ole Miss (3-7)

In their final home game of the season, many LSU faithful had a confident feeling the LSU Tigers would have no trouble with a Rebel team that was once again going to be left out of the bowl picture. Looking at their schedule clearly showed that the Ole Miss Rebels were better than their record indicated. Going into the game, Ole Miss had lost to Auburn, Georgia, and Alabama by an average of 5 points.

Right from the get-go LSU got jumped. I do not whether LSU was down after having seen Arkansas win or the fact that they were playing Arkansas next week. Whatever it was LSU looked flat out sloppy and unprepared.

As an LSU fan, I like to refer to this game as The Night Thanksgiving Was Saved. I was looking forward to a Top 10 showdown the day after Thanksgiving between LSU and Arkansas. I never expect for LSU to fall flat after going up 7-0. Not only were 20 unanswered points given up, the defense was not nearly as dominating without LB Darry "Uncle Trouble" Beckwith. As for the offense, Russell was off. His throws were off to the point it cost LSU at least two touchdowns.

I will be honest. When the score was still 20-7 and there were about 10 minutes left, I was starting to give up. Again, I have to point my finger at Russell. Things were getting so aggravating at Tiger Stadium last night that I was simply letting it be known if Russell could not pull himself together, than he lost a lot of my support.

Still, the team hung in there. The D kept giving the offense plenty of chances. When LSU scored to make it 20-14, I thought taking the lead would be no problem. Like so much of the game, the Ole Miss defense was aggressive and tough for the Tigers to penetrate.

Late in the game LSU got the ball at midfield. The offense was finally starting to come together and one more score seemed definite. A few plays later LSU was punting. That was a drive where Russell's throwing was off yet again. Ball at midfield and you could not squeeze out any points?

Right before LSU got the ball for one more final try, I anxiously watched the Ole Miss punt. When I saw the flag thrown for roughing the kicker, I was certain the penalty was 15 yards, automatic first down. LSU was toast with no timeouts left. Turns out it was only 5 yards as the call was a mere running into the kicker.

That final drive Russell kept chipping away at the Ole Miss D. All day Russell had struggled, but yet no INTs had occurred. That thought alone terrified me. Play after play LSU continued to get closer. But as each play ended, more time ran off the clock. With under 2 minutes remaining, Russell was sacked in a way similar to the final moments of the Auburn game. Something like that was not happening again.

After the Tigers got into a 1st & Goal and Russell overthrow Bowe slightly, I was free of stress knowing LSU had plenty of tries. Before I could realize what was going on, Jacob Hester dropped the potential GW touchdown on 3rd & Goal from the 6. The game came down to one play. At this point in the game my heart rate was around 200 beats a minute.

Tiger Stadium was rocking and in a single motion the play had started. The crowd quieted as everyone waited to see how one of the greatest LSU/Ole Miss games would end. After not finding his initial receivers, Russell threw a rocket to Bowe. Bowe caught it and the stadium was chaos.

For much of the final drive, my friends and I were in certain standing positions because of our crazy superstitions. After Bowe caught that touchdown, I lost my footing. Sure the blocking was the reason for the missed kick, but hey I did not do my part. Blaming that missed kick on Colt David is a crime. Blocking was the sole reason OT happened.

Thankfully an Ole Miss player did not return the blocked kick for a TD. I will not lie. That ball bounces different and Rebel fans are talking about winning the game on a blocked field goal.

Overtime was an eerie feeling. The stadium had generated so much momentum in the 4th quarter. To all of a sudden be in OT after a missed field goal, frankly, killed the crowd somewhat.

Winning the coin flip was huge. Playing defense is always preferred. Thanks to some hard tackling, LSU was fortunate to scoop up a fumble. That final OT drive was nothing but Hester, Hester, and so more Hester. Watching the final kick was too painful to watch. All I could think about was that missed PAT. I closed my eyes and after the hollering began, I knew that LSU had indeed just saved Thanksgiving.

Final Thoughts

1. Dwayne Bowe played awesome. 2 touchdowns in clutch moments. With that said, I still feel our most reliable receiver is Early Doucet. Game in and game out, Doucet makes crucial receptions. That 4th down catch overruled is something I am not sure I agree with, but 9/10 Doucet makes that catch with no questions asked.

2. Jimbo Fisher's calls were a bit odd at times. A run up the middle again when the last 10 times did nothing? LSU NEEDS TO THROW THE BALL MORE!

3. Did I mention the defense without Darry "Uncle Trouble" Beckwith is phenomenally different.

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