Just another night for the new normal that is LSU football in the 21st century.
At the tailgates and warmdown parties around town, a toast was raised to impossible standards. It was celebrated with worries and complaints about what was wrong with LSU’s 63-14 victory Saturday night over Idaho.
To be sure it wasn’t a 27 up, 27 down kind of win. Les Miles acknowledged as much to open his postgame remarks.
“Imperfect today,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “I think everybody can see that we can be a dominant football team. All three phases at different times were dominant today. We have to eliminate some mistakes down in the red zone, but frankly we will learn from this one. We will be better and we will improve.”
Zach Mettenberger, in just his third major college start, threw his second goal-line interception that turned what looked destined to be a 21-0 lead into a much tenser 14-7 affair in the second quarter. After the first of two LSU pick sixes by Ronald Martin, pressed into an emergency start at strong safety as Craig Loston rested his turf toe, Idaho quarterback Dominique Blackham had the Tigers’ secondary turned every which way but the right one as the Vandals marched 81 yards on their best drive of the night.
And then the Tigers mashed the accelerator, scoring 42 unanswered points with another pick six by defensive end Lavar Edwards (having a superb senior year), a run-over-you-very-much 71-yard touchdown run by Kenny Hilliard, and bombs and surgical strikes by Mettenberger as the Tigers finally stretched the legs on their passing game.
And just like that, LSU had piled up its most points since a 63-28 win at Kentucky in 1997, its most points against anyone since a 70-14 romp over Arkansas State in 1991.
Ah, remember 1991? The first glorious year of the Curley Hallman era. Good times, great oldies.
Lots of losses.
As the last hardy souls streamed out of Tiger Stadium, they blew a kiss west toward Stanford, Calif., where the Cardinal was beating USC 21-14, thus insuring when the polls come out Sunday, LSU will be a rock solid No. 2 behind Alabama in the major polls.
In the shadow game that has been the Tigers’ fate to deal with since Jan. 9, LSU’s rent-a-win romp will be measured against Bama’s plodding but coldly effective 52-0 win at Arkansas over a Tyler Wilson-less, imploding Razorbacks team.
Comparative scores do little good when there are five games to play for the Tigers and Crimson Tide before their next seismic event on Nov. 3.
For now, LSU’s first road game looms at Auburn, which is a Warhawk’s whisker away from being 0-3 for the first time since 1950.
Far from a finished product, LSU may not exactly be where it wanted to be after three games. It isn’t quite where Alabama is.
But you can bet USC and a bunch of other teams would gladly trade places.