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July 29, 2010

First Thoughts on LSU vs North Carolina

"LSU opens the season against a very good North Carolina team in Atlanta. I think the game will be a very physical battle between LSU's offense and North Carolina's defense. I think LSU will control the second half and win 24-13."

Dandy Don Long is a man that LSU fans have come to know, love, and respect.  The predictions that Dandy Don makes on his LSU recruiting and sporting news website are not always right but, often, what Don says about LSU football, you can take to the bank.  Don has started the ball rolling in this discussion of LSU versus North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.  Here are some of my thought:

This reminds me of three other games and seasons in LSU's past and this opening game and LSU's 2010 season could play out like any of the three examples.
Two of the games were against perennial ACC powerhouse Virginia Tech (Sept. 1, 2002 and Sept 8, 2007) and the other game was an early season game against a highly touted University of Arizona team (Sept. 9, 2006). 

Game 1: Virginia Tech 2002
In 2002 LSU fans had high expectations after a 10-3 season that was capped off by a Sugar Bowl victory against #7 ranked Illinois.  LSU opened the season against Virginia Tech and got pummeled to the tune of an 8-26 score. That season LSU went  8-4 in the regular season and lost to Auburn, Alabama, and Arkansas.  They completed that season with a loss to Texas in the Cotton Bowl.  I wonder if the media that picked LSU to finish 4th in the SEC West this year considered the 2002 season in making their decision.  The similarities are hauntingly familiar: 

  • LSU opens against a solid ACC opponent. This year North Carolina has 4 to 6 early round NFL prospects on defense this year.  Virginia Tech had an outstanding defense in 2002.  Could the 2010 Tigers be held to a low score like the 8 points the Hokies held the 2002 Tigers?
  • In 2010 the media picks LSU to finish 4th in the SEC West behind Auburn, Alabama, and Arkansas.  Not only are those the same three teams that beat LSU in 2002 but, at #10 Alabama was the highest ranked team of the three.  Alabama is likely to be easily be ranked in the top 10 when the meet LSU in November and very well could be ranked #1.  By the way, in 2002 Alabama shutout LSU in Death Valley with a score of 31-0.
You have to wonder if that is what those sports journalist were thinking of when they picked LSU 4th in the SEC West. 2002 was not a good year for the Tigers.  The 2003 BCS National Champion Tigers helped Tiger fans forget about that disappointing 2002 season.   

Games 2 and 3:  Virginia Tech (round 2, 2007) and Arizona (2006):
I know that I am handling these two games out of chronological order but, I feel obligated to tell the happy ending to the LSU-Virginia Tech story.  In 2007 many experts of the national sports media were predicting that Virginia Tech would destroy LSU in route to a national championship.  LSU had just beaten Mississippi State 45-0 and the thinking was two-fold: 1. Miss. State was not nearly as good as Virginia Tech and 2. LSU would come into the game way overconfident.  LSU beat Virginia Tech  48-7 and completed the season as the first two-time BCS National champion.  In the 2006 LSU vs Arizona game a number of experts and others were predicting that a very talented Arizona team had a great shot at proving themselves by notching a win against LSU.  Arizona's high-powered offense was predicted to be a bit too much for LSU to handle.  Before the game nobody was 100% sure but, there was talk that Arizona had a serious chance of winning this one.  LSU won the game 45-3 and that year only lost to a #3 ranked Auburn at Auburn in a controversial 3-7 loss and to then #5 Florida at Gainesville.  That year Florida went on to win the BCS National Championship and LSU beat a very good Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl 41-14.

I know, games 2 and 3 were played at LSU but, the Georgia Dome is often referred to as LSU's second home because of the success they have enjoyed in that venue.  The Georgia Dome will certainly not be as hostile or difficult an atmosphere as the 2002 Tigers faced in Blackburg, Virginia.  Also of note is the fact that the coach of the disappointing 2002 season was Nick Saban.  Thank goodness LSU "fans" did not run off Saban after the 2002 season.  Les Miles coached the Tigers in 2006 and 2007.  So far, Miles seems to have prepared LSU football teams very well for these strong season match-ups.

Since we are seeing what comparisons might be drawn from some historical analysis, it is probably appropriate to mention that when LSU and North Carolina meet in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic September 4th it will be only the seventh time the two school have met.  LSU owns a 5-1 record against North Carolina.  The two schools met last in 1986. LSU won that game 30-3.

Baton Rouge Morning Advocate sportswriter Randy Rosetta predicts:
"LSU 21, North Carolina 16: The star-studded Tar Heels defense is left depleted and deflated after the NCAA inquiry and Tigers star Patrick Peterson reaches the end zone to bolster LSU’s point production in a low-scoring slugfest in Atlanta."

Brett Stephen of the Bleacher Report predicts:  LSU 27  UNC 13

I will do a bit more homework/analysis before I make a prediction.


Anonymous said...

That most of the college football fans are saying, the North Carolina,LSU, football game in Atlanta," is going to be a close game". Should give everyone a moment, to stop and think, that if that game is to close to call,the same game could go against LSU also.
So the reality is clear, Les Miles is a middle of the pack coach, that has slowly over the past years, has brought the LSU football program down to his level..If Alabama,Florida,were starting their season opener with NC,what would your prediction be then?
How do you think the tiger fans are going to feel after North Carolina beat LSU?

Anonymous said...

The Nick Saban state of the art Train, is now running in Alabama,LSU Les Miles slow moving fright train, is something no one "want" to look at..We have the Saints now.

T-Tigga said...

I guess there is just not much interesting being written about Bammer. LSU was robbed at Bammer last year. This year it is time for pay back. Talk big you anonymous Alabama fans.

Anonymous said...

Rise up Tiger Nation Rise Up! Did you read the article - Saban was the last LSU coach to embarrass us against an ACC foe. He struggled against VaTech last year, too.

Anonymous said...

Good Read. This is history whats it have to do with this team.

HIRoss said...

Ah! I am still enjoying last year's Penn State - LSU game. A wonderful permanent item on my Tivo. Not much better!

Anonymous said...

So, LSU v UNC is going to be a 'physical game'. Please tell me, when is a college football game not 'physical'. Oh, we're playing MSU this week, but its only flag football, but next week, we play Auburn and its going to be full contact !!!

Or do you by 'physical' that its going to be all running, few first downs and maybe one TD in the first half by the offense, if we're lucky. After all, for most of Jamarcus Russells sophmore season with Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis and Early Doucett Miles ran the ball almost as a lifestyle. Is it any wonder top receivers are no longer coming to LSU? Why should they...

LSU is on a downward trend, and its just so easy to see one wonders why its even an arguement.

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