When you looked at LSU’s daunting schedule before the season started, any sane person would have thought it impossible to go undefeated. Even a die hard LSU fan like myself thought the Tigers would be hard pressed to beat Oregon, West Virginia, Mississippi St. and Alabama on the road.
I thought a 10-2 record with this schedule would be excellent.
In retrospect LSU’s difficult schedule might have been their biggest ally this season as it kept the Bayou Bengals laser focused for each game. While many teams loaded up their schedule with sugary sweet cupcakes to fatten up on, LSU knew they had to push themselves to the limit to win.
The Tigers entire off-season was spent running wind sprints and training for Oregon’s high octane offense. This improved strength and endurance helped the Tigers dominate opposing teams physically and mentally in the 2nd half of games.
When all of the off-field issues starting swirling around the program, the players didn’t have time to worry because of the schedule. Each week was a new challenge.
So don’t expect LSU to lose focus or be intimidated when they play at the Georgia Dome in front of a pro-Bulldog crowd for the SEC championship.
“We’re used to playing in that environment,” LSU coach Les Miles said during a Sunday teleconference. “We’re used to being on the big stage. I think our guys translate the glare of the lights to making plays in the game. I think that they did that against Oregon in Dallas and right on through.”
The mental toughness developed by playing such a difficult schedule has galvanized this team.
“I remember we were a little dead getting off the plane in West Virginia, and it was just live. I mean, it was a big-time environment and a wonderful night. Our guys just had come to life,” Miles said.
LSU dispatched the Mountaineers with ease and haven’t looked back.
Now the Tigers face a Georgia team that has won 10 straight games to earn it’s way to the SEC championship.
“I can tell you that our football team is looking forward to the opportunity to play them,” Miles said. “The opportunity to get through the regular season and get to a game that is representative of our conference championship is really the goal of our football team.”
Would you expect anything different from this group of LSU Tigers?