This was no fluke. LSU is better. LSU is a lot better. There was some ability to explain away last year's OSU collapse, like the standard line about them taking their press clippings too seriously. No such excuse exists this year. They got beat by a better team. Simply put, in the first half, Ohio State played about as well as they could possibly expect and they were down 24-10.
When LSU added a TD on the opening drive of the game, it was over. I started sampling the cheese dip and actually talking to people. Everything that happened from that point on was just LSU protecting a lead by running out the clock.
And for all of the talk of Les Miles being too emotional and not being nearly the game day coach Tressel is, it was Miles who exuded calm in the early going when the team fell down 10-0. It would be hard to imagine a worse start for the tigers: a long TD run allowed by a pretty egregious bad line taken by Steltz, a fumbled snap setting up a short field, and a botched coverage allowing a huge gain. All in the first six minutes of play.
And LSU didn't blink. They responded with a 14-play drive which resulted in 3 points. Then the defense got a stop. Then there was another long drive, this one resulting in a touchdown. Tie game. Coaching isn't all about X's and O's. It's about falling behind big early and showing confidence in the team to slowly rally back. Miles is never going to be a top tier tactician, but he was clearly the better coach yesterday. Because his team, even down 10, was cocky and confident. It was great game day management, and I hope this is when Miles' detractors will shut up. In fact, the most common theme of the pregame coverage was Ohio State's huge edge in coaching. Tressel is a great coach, but Miles is now deservedly on that level.
As far as talent, two things struck me: Our secondary absolutely dominated their receivers and we have tons and tons more depth. The secondary's performance speaks for itself, as they blanketed the Buckeyes' receivers all night, forcing Boeckman to make pretty bad decisions, as he is wont to do. His line gave him time, but there was no one open.
But the depth was the key. OSU's starters are just as good as LSU's at most positions. But our depth at almost every position was staggering. Their offense was Beanie Wells and not much else. Only 6 players showed up on their rushing/passing/receiving scoresheet. LSU had 8 different players rush the ball and 8 players catch a pass (only 2 of them also rushed the ball). That's 14 players who got a touch. And though it doesn't show on the boxscore, our defense also showed a similar kind of depth. Steltz went down with injury and the defense didn't miss a beat. LSU just kept coming in waves.
To say some nice things about Ohio State, Beanie Wells is the real deal and their offensive line is awesome. Their line won most of the battles during the game, but it didn't matter because no one was open. You're not going to stop Dorsey from making plays, but they did a pretty good job. Ohio State is a good team. LSU is just better.
Then again, LSU is the best team in the nation. #1 in the AP. #1 in the BCS. #1. Feels nice to say. We're #1.