Smiley: Surprising Tigers

If it’s August, it’s time for the Fearless Football Forecast, aka “Smiley’s Folly.”

This is my annual look at the LSU Tigers’ season from my unique perspective as a somewhat casual fan who doesn’t actually go to the games but reads about them in the paper and watches them on TV if they’re not on past my bedtime.

This year, our student-athletes engaged in their traditional preseason boyish pranks — assault, theft, playing with firecrackers, etc. But hopefully they’ve now settled down to playing the game. And I foresee a surprisingly good season for the lads in purple and yellow.

For this is the year that Les Miles can get back to his beloved Big Ten football — three yards and a cloud of mud (this IS Louisiana, after all). With Leonard Fournette and Terrence Magee running the ball and a couple of mobile quarterbacks, Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings, keeping it on the ground more than in the past, the Tigers will have a grind-it-out offense to go with its usual stout defense. It won’t always be pretty, but the new look will win some games by wearing down the opponents.

Bye, Badgers

The Bayou Bengals open the season in Houston with a solid win over Wisconsin, a performance that gets the team some national press and a dark horse title in the SEC.

Home sweet home

The Tigers open a four-game home stand with relatively easy victories over Sam Houston State and UL-Monroe, games in which a lot of younger players get to see the field.

An improved Mississippi State team comes to town and gives the Bengals all they can handle and then some. A last-minute field goal pulls the game out for the feisty home team.

LSU gets a breather after the State game, and rocks New Mexico State to go into October with a 5-0 record and high hopes.

Up and down on the road

But its first SEC road game ends in disaster as Auburn thrashes the boys from Baton Rouge and puts them behind in the SEC West chase.

Fortunately, an improved Florida team isn’t improved enough to vanquish the Tigers, who return home with a welcome win in Gainesville.

Up and down at home

Kentucky gives it a valiant effort in Baton Rouge, but can’t overcome the fired-up LSU team and its rabid, Earth-shaking fans.

Sadly, the next game is the first home loss for the purple gang as Ole Miss wins a squeaker and gives LSU two losses in the competitive SEC West, virtually knocking them out of the SEC championship chase.

The year’s best win

The Tigers are down but not out as they prepare for a game that’s been penciled in for a year — against the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide and its coach, the Prince of Darkness. All the experts predict an Alabama win. And all the experts are wrong. LSU upsets the Tide by beating it at its own game, relying on a pounding running game and a stout defense to wind up victorious and send its supporters in sold-out Tiger Stadium home deliriously happy.

Road warriors

The final two games are on the road, and present good opportunities for the Tigers to stumble. But the battle-tested boys from the bayou are on a roll, and take care of Arkansas and Texas A&M to finish the regular season with a stunning 10-2 record.

Win one for Les

The record’s not enough to get LSU in the SEC championship game, but it is enough to send the lads to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl, at which they win a close one against a Big Ten team well known to its head coach — the Michigan Wolverines.

Worthy causes

STAR (Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response) and the LSU Women’s Center display the Monument Quilt from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Baton Rouge’s North Boulevard Town Square.

The quilt is “a collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape and abuse from around the U.S.”

Call (225) 615-7093 or visit www.brstar.org.

Special People Dept.

Annie Cali Starlone, of Hester, celebrates her 102nd birthday on Monday.

Gloria Rivault Wilbert celebrates her 90th birthday on Monday. She is a World War II veteran.

Cheap at any price

Tony Falterman, of Napoleonville, says reading about divorce lawyers in the Thursday column, “I was reminded about one of my first clients many years ago.

“He came into my office and wanted a divorce from his wife; however, at that time there was a requirement that the party suing for divorce needed ‘cause.’

“Upon inquiring of my client’s circumstances, I told him he did not have sufficient cause and that I would not be able to file a petition on his behalf.

“He responded by saying, ‘I don’t know nothing about no “cause,” but I got money and I want a deevorce!’ ”

Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.