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Sunday Morning Observations, Week 10

LSU Proves that Defense Wins Championships; Penn State on the Precipice


LSU Alabama 2011

Tyrann Mathieu and the LSU defense proved their mettle against Alabama.

(Getty Images)
Updated November 06, 2011

So in the end, it turned out that those defenses at Alabama and LSU really were every bit as good as we thought they were. Either that, or neither of those teams has an offense worth a lick.

Could be the latter. But, yeah, I’m leaning toward the former.

College football's latest Game of the Century, played on Saturday night in front of a frantic crowd down in Tuscaloosa, pretty much lived up to expectations. The hitting was ferocious. The intensity was through the roof. And again, those defenses—two of the finest defenses that college football has seen in recent years—more than proved their mettle. They are both undeniably, unquestionably outstanding.

And the stats told precisely that tale: LSU managed only 239 total yards on the night; 'Bama mustered just 295. Neither team ever looked a threat on offense, and indeed, neither ever crossed the goal line. Yes, forward progress was that hard to come by.

In the end, it was LSU would won this battle of field goals, gutting out a 9-6 overtime win that puts them firmly in the driver's seat both in the race for the SEC championship and the national championship. Having survived Nick Saban's Crimson Tide, the Tigers now must only survive Western Kentucky, Ole Miss and Arkansas (at home) to secure their place in the SEC title game. Once there, they will be heavy favorites over whoever comes out of the very mediocre SEC East.

Then, of course, it will be off to the BCS National Title Game, where Les Miles and crew will clearly lean on their defense—suffocating, athletic, aggressive—in hopes of securing yet another national title. The Tigers offense may not be outstanding, but their defense most certainly is.

Hate on the SEC hype all you want, but there’s no denying it: The LSU Tigers are officially the runaway favorites to win it all in 2011.

The reason is simple. They cannot be scored on. Which makes it awfully hard to beat them.

Just ask Alabama.

♦ I will be writing much more later this week about the absolute mess up at Happy Valley. And by then, hopefully we'll have more clarity about who knew what, and when, regarding the very ugly Jerry Sandusky situation. But I wanted to at least get something on the record here today, because it's a story that simply needs to be addressed. So here goes: While it is of course true that, in this nation, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and while it is also true that we have yet to hear Penn State's side of the story (and by the way, Penn State, you would be well served to start talking, and quick), the Grand Jury report regarding Sandusky's behavior paints a pretty bleak, pretty ugly and pretty disgusting picture of what went down in State College. The report indicates that Penn State president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and, yes, coach Joe Paterno were made aware in 2002 of an alleged assault by Sandusky of a young boy in the Penn State football facility. Even still, the report alleges, the incident was never reported to police, and even more shockingly, Sandusky allegedly maintained access to Penn State and the football program. If this is true—if the powers-that-be at Penn State allowed a suspected sexual predator to remain around the program—then it is clear that Spanier and Curley (the two men who, apparently, decided against reporting the 2002 incident to legal authorities) must be fired immediately. It also clear that Paterno, who has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the matter, must be removed at year's end, along with his entire staff. Penn State stands on the precipice of complete and utter disaster. The university will be stained by this years, and if the allegations in the report are true, justifiably so. It only seems to make sense, then, that the men responsible for letting this situation get to this point should have to pay. This is ugly, ugly stuff—some of the ugliest we've ever seen in college athletics—and it cannot stand. We can only hope that the allegations prove false; we can only hope that Sandusky never molested anybody; we can only that officials at Penn State didn't try to cover this up. But if we find out this is true, well, action needs to be taken. That action needs to swift and it needs to be significant. If this is how the Paterno era has to end, well, so be it. This is bigger than football, bigger than one man's legacy. This is about justice. And justice must be served.

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