LSU chasing more than just a title
January, 3, 2012
By Chris Low | ESPN.com
Charles LeClaire/US PresswireLes Miles has the LSU Tigers on the brink of a historical accomplishment.It’s a phrase you’re going to hear often over the next week as we get closer to Monday night’s Allstate BCS National Championship Game.
If LSU wins Round 2 over Alabama and effectively sweeps the Crimson Tide, where do these Tigers rank among the best college football teams of all time?
For starters, they would have to be considered among the most worthy national champions of all time.
Already, the Tigers have eight wins over nationally ranked foes. Since the advent of The Associated Press Top 25 poll in 1937, no national champion has recorded eight wins over ranked foes.
And with a win over Alabama, LSU could make it nine conquests over nationally ranked foes.
“We want to be remembered as the best ever, here at LSU and maybe even in college football,” LSU senior offensive guard Will Blackwell said. “I don’t think it’s fair that we have to beat Alabama again to win the national championship, but that’s the way it’s set up. That’s the system we’re in.
“We have to go through them a second time to get where we want to get, and then, there shouldn’t be any questions.”
The only team to come within single digits of LSU (13-0) this season was Alabama in the 9-6 overtime game back on Nov. 5. If you eliminate that game, the Tigers have beaten their other 12 opponents by an average margin of 30 points.
Not only that, but LSU owns seven double-digit victories over nationally ranked teams and has scored 40 or more points against six ranked clubs.
For perspective, the most double-digit wins over ranked opponents by a team that went on to win the national championship in the AP poll era is six, which Florida accomplished in 2008.
So, in short, it’s difficult to imagine a more impressive résumé than what LSU would put together if the Tigers finish this season with a 14-0 record, beating Alabama two times along the way.
Not just any Alabama team, either, but an Alabama team that boasts a defense that’s being compared to some of the best in that program’s storied history.
The Crimson Tide are ranked No. 1 nationally in all four of the major statistical categories defensively -- total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and passing defense -- and the last team to do that was Oklahoma in 1986.
Plus, a win over Alabama would give LSU a fourth win over a top-5 team. The Tigers have already beaten Oregon, Arkansas and Alabama, and two of those wins came away from home.
Even though the title game is in New Orleans, that’s still not a home game, which means LSU has a chance to win three of its four games against top-5 opponents away from home.
Only one national champion in history, Notre Dame in 1943, has beaten four opponents ranked in the top 5 of the AP poll.
But that 1943 Notre Dame team also lost a game en route to winning the national title.
The 2000 Oklahoma national championship team and 1988 Notre Dame national championship team both won three games over top-5 opponents, and both the Sooners and Irish finished unbeaten.
At least in modern times, both of those teams are also considered among the strongest national champions ever.
In the BCS era, it’s difficult to top that 2001 Miami team, although the 2004 USC team, the 1999 Florida State team and each of the last three national champions from the SEC -- Auburn last season, Alabama in 2009 and Florida in 2008 -- may all beg to differ.
In the realm of the SEC, you can also add the 1979 Alabama team, 1980 Georgia team, 1992 Alabama team, 1996 Florida team and 1998 Tennessee team when ranking the best national champions from this league over the past 40 years.
Where the Tigers would fit in remains to be seen, but it’s clear that simply winning a national title isn’t enough for this team.
“We want to do something that hasn’t been done, something we’ll always be remembered for,” LSU junior receiver Russell Shepard said. “We’ve dealt with everything that has come our way this season.
“We know what’s at stake.”