Second, LSU out-schemed Ohio State. The Bucks started the game using their one good idea: the fly pattern to Brandon Saine off of a fake pass to Beanie Wells. After that, all of the innovation came from the Tigers' sideline. The touchdown pass to Richard Dickson was a thing of beauty, as Ohio State left the tight end totally uncovered because of the unbalanced formation that LSU threw at them. Generally speaking, LSU's offense was way more diverse than Ohio State's and they kept the Bucks' defense off balance all game. On the defensive side, the blitzes dialed up by Bo Pelini consistently generated pressure and they were coming from all sorts of different angles. LSU simply did more creative things than Ohio State, which isn't bad for a team that was supposedly going to lose because of its inferior coaching staff.
(To me, the explanation for SEC teams deploying better schemes than Ohio State comes down to competitive pressure. LSU won't succeed in the SEC solely on the basis of its athletes because there are a number of teams in the conference with great talent. [This is why most of the criticism of Les Miles misses the mark. If he was just rolling Nick Saban's players out onto the field, he wouldn't be 34-6 in the SEC with a national title, a conference title, and two major bowl wins.] Thus, they have a sideline full of excellent coaches who do creative things to put their players in positions to succeed. Ohio State, on the other hand, faces only two teams in the Big Ten with comparable talent, one of which is coached by a checked-out octogenarian and the other was coached by a pretty good coach who has been gradually retiring for the past four years. Ohio State doesn't face the same pressure to maximize its talent, so they're a little like Saudi Arabia right now.)
Third, by the end of the game, LSU was whipping Ohio State up front. Ohio State did a reasonable job of handling LSU's defensive front in the first quarter, but as the game progressed, LSU's defensive front got better and better. They negated Beanie Wells and they were getting after Todd Boeckman on just about every passing down. Conversely, LSU's offensive line played better and better after the first quarter. Bill Walsh said that the most important thing in football is a fourth quarter pass rush and last night's game illustrated the point.
See, it's possible to analyze a game without once relying on the speed crutch. And the great thing is that I don't have to try to explain why LSU's speed was decisive when Ohio State's 240-pound tailback ran away from the LSU secondary on the fourth play from scrimmage.
1. Could someone explain to me why Mayhem in the AM spent roughly half of their time this morning regurgitating the Roger Clemens "news" from yesterday? If you're "Atlanta's sports leader" and the Atlanta market is dominated by college football, then why are you spending so much time on the morning following the college football national championship game discussing an issue that is much more of a Bob Ryan-Mike Lupica story (read: something about which the Northeastern media obsesses and then assumes that the rest of the country cares)? For the love of G-d, you people were at the game! Tell me about the game! Tell me something I might have missed not being in the Superdome! Don't babble on about a story that you acknowledge is a farce! My thoughts on the steroid jihad are nicely summarized in this passage from Gary Huckabay at the Baseball Prospectus's blog:
[Henry] Waxman and his committee are displaying the basest kind of vile pandering, willing to do anything for a few minutes in front of a live camera with an opportunity to wag their atherosclerotically clubbed fingers in righteous anger. We’re talking about small widgets in a small business, that’s already done a hell of a job cleaning up their act, if you actually look at the numbers.
And before anyone gets the idea of writing me with yet another ironically juvenile “What about the children?!?!?!?” diatribe…piss off. The children are at far greater risk from the advertisement barrages that bracket innings within the game. No six year old should know who the hell Spuds MacKenzie or the Budweiser frogs are. Let’s tally up the damage to children from steroids compared to alcohol, shall we? Selective protection of the young teaches hypocrisy.
This whole issue is bulls–t, and everyone, in their heart of hearts, knows it. The collective societal masturbation on this issue is something out of Ionesco, and the number of whorish sell-outs who should resign in disgrace is climbing faster and more brazenly than Barry Bonds‘ HR totals ever did.
2. This will be a one-time admission from a Michigan grad, but when Ohio State is beaten in the national title game by a head coach from Elyria and a defensive coordinator from Youngstown, that's an indication that there's something special about football in the state of Ohio. Now, returning to our regular programming...
3. Der Wife could not believe how Hitler Youthy the Ohio State band looks in their berets and quasi-military uniforms. There, that felt much better.
4. In their heart of hearts, LSU fans need to acknowledge that they've won all three of their national titles in New Orleans and that playing at home might be a wee bit of an advantage. (Miami and USC fans need to make the same admission.) Home crowds are good for a lot of things, one of which is prolonging momentum. That seems like a relevant point to make on the morning after a game decided by a 31-0 run.
5. In the realm of things I'm excited for next year, Ryan Perrilloux in Gary Crowton's offense ranks right up there. When I put my objective hat on, I'll admit that I'm also excited to see what Beanie Wells looks like as a junior because he was pretty phenomenal as a sophomore.
6. In a reflective moment, proclaiming Georgia to be the most overrated team in the country was my worst pick of the summer and tabbing LSU as the best team in the country when everyone else was stuck on USC was the best. The weird thing is that I was totally right about Georgia for the first seven games of the year and then they had one of the most complete transformation I've ever seen from a sports team after the dance off in the end zone in Jacksonville.