We did not see two of the nation's top 12 teams. Rather, we didn't see
two of the top 12 teams in the country play much good football. A little
of Arizona's royal badness rubbed off on LSU, and then residue from the
Tigers all but soaked Georgia.
This was, while a wild and momentum-changing and second-guess-filled
game, yet often uglier than a 50-year-old stripper 70 miles away on
Early on, the game took on one clear feel: whoever played the least
worst would win.
That would be LSU, 17-10.
This was a humbler for both teams, who are conference favorites and
have thoughts of national championship contention.
Not so fast, my friend.
So much for Georgia erasing red-zone problems.
So much for the rumor of a big S on David Greene's chest.
So much for the tailback position belonging almost solely to Michael Cooper.
So much for heading to the fridge when Billy Bennett lines up because
it's a done deal.
OK, Bennett could easily miss no more this year like the ones Saturday,
and just because Georgia didn't win doesn't mean Greene doesn't have
that special thing. After all, there he was again, putting Georgia in
position to win a game that really and truly should have ended in a tie.
When Georgia took over with 1:16 left and the ball on the 15 and a
terrifically frenzied crowd forgetting about flasks, it brought with it
the eerily familiar feeling of Knoxville two years ago when
then-freshman Greene drove the Bulldogs to a win in the final seconds.
"The way our defense had been playing all day, of course after that
touchdown," said Tyson Browning, receiver of the screen pass that went
for 93 yards and the tying score, "I felt that the momentum had
definitely swtiched our way to take over."
Back then, there wasn't enough time for Tennessee to get the big
special teams play that LSU got Saturday.
And, in fact, it ended up being the play of the game. When you are at
midfield with 4:16 left and you need only three points to win and your
kicker already had nailed a 47-yarder, your odds improve.
This was the worst game Georgia has played in awhile. The numbers were
there - the Bulldogs outgained the Tigers 411-285 - but numbers, as they
often do, don't tell the whole truth.
The Bulldogs never had any flow or fluidness, and frankly, the game
itself lacked a certain personality. Imagine a Kentucky-Vandy game.
Close, strategy, excitement, but you walk away less than dazzled.
Neither team played near its ranking, and the other team didn't have as
much to do with it as one might think. This was a game of pure and
Georgia really won that battle. LSU ran out of bullets.
There were dropped passes, missed tackles, tipped passes, running right
into masses of humanity rather than to uncrowded fields of green, and
missed field goals.
Neither head coach's show will have the boss smiling a whole bunch. The
guess here is, though, we'll probably see these two play again, and
they'll be substantially better on the turf in Atlanta.
LSU survived this one. It had chances galore and left them on the
field. The Tigers made more big plays than the Bulldogs, and made the
biggest when it counted.
Consider that Skyler Green dropped more passes than anybody, and was
whistled for running into the kicker in the third quarter. Had that been
roughing, Georgia would've gone from fourth-and-28 to a first down.
And then who just blew by Tim Jennings on a busted play to catch the
game-winner right in front of the LSU students and band? Skyler Green.
The youngster will go to church today.
It was that kind of game. Funky.
Geez, Greene hit only 43.4 percent of his passes and only at times look
like the Greene touted as a Heisman candidate.
Such talk is on hold for awhile.
There were some positives. Browning proved that overlooking him - as
most have done - is a mistake. Gordon Ely-Kelso is a pretty good
freshman punter. The defense remains a collection of football freaks.
LSU toughed it out as well and seems way too balanced and consistent on
both sides to lose the West.
But Saturday, the Tigers were only decent.
And on a muggy afternoon in Death Valley, only decent was enough to