Wisconsin shocked LSU 16-14 to shake up the season before it even gets started. What are the 5 Things That Matter in the epic showdown in Lambeau?
Les Miles shouldn’t have lost this game
There’s absolutely no excuse.
LSU has the more veteran talent than any team in college football. It’s got the best player, an NFL receiving corps, an NFL secondary, and it has Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator, Dave Aranda. Meanwhile, Brandon Harris is going into his fourth year, while Bart Houston was starting his first game against an elite defense.
Wisconsin has talent and it’s a proven program, but it’s also not even remotely as skilled on either side of the ball as LSU.
Of course there’s still time for LSU to turn this around and win the national title, just like Alabama did after losing early last year, but this is the type of game a team as good as LSU is supposed to find a way to win. Instead, LSU got outcoached, outplayed, and to make up a word, outhearted.
Now it’s time to see just how good Les Miles really is. He’s still got the talent across the board, and he’s still got everything in place to make this a special year. But now he has to take this phenomenal team and do something more with it.
In the end, he’s Brandon Harris
I spent the entire offseason defending Brandon Harris. He’s a veteran who had a better year than he received credit for last year, and he came into the season with the talent around him to come up with a great year.
All he had to do was not screw it all up, and while he threw a touchdown pass – Travin Dural made that happen, though – he threw two interceptions including the game-sealer that a guy who’s been through the wars he has can’t do. He didn’t lose this game for LSU – the coaching staff did – but for those who doubted the team because of the quarterback situation, go ahead and chirp.
They wanted it more
I hate that cliché. In this case, though, it absolutely fits.
Leonard Fournette ran for 138 yards and set up a score with a big catch, but Wisconsin RB Corey Clement came into the game with a major attitude that he could play a little, too. He ran for 86 yards and a score on 21 carries, but he helped steady the offense.
The team had to hear about how Dave Aranda was going to stuff the Wisconsin O, now that he’s handling the LSU D. It had to hear about how talented LSU was, about how there wasn’t a chance of winning, and it had to see that it was a double-digit dog in a home game.
LSU had the juice in the third quarter on its 14-point scoring run, but that was it. The Badgers had more energy, they played far smarter, and they figured out how to beat a far more talented team.
So how do you beat a team like LSU if you’re a team like Wisconsin? You take the air out of the ball and you don’t let all the next-level offensive talent get on the field.
This is the part of the puzzle the hurry-up offensive types don’t get. If you can take the air out of the ball and hold it for over 37 minutes, the other team never gets into a rhythm. Wisconsin only converted 3-of-15 third down chances, but it was deliberate, it ground down the clock, and it controlled the game outside of few minutes of meltdown in the third quarter.
What Does This All REALLY Mean?
Wisconsin beat Kentucky in the 2015 Final Four, but it still had to play Duke. One step at a time, and while this was an epic win, after playing Akron and Georgia State, the Badgers have to go to Michigan State, Michigan, and then host Ohio State. However, if the team is good enough to beat LSU, it’s good enough to beat anyone left on the slate.
LSU has plenty of time to get its footing back. It’ll beat Jacksonville State, and then it gets a Mississippi State team that lost to South Alabama. Beat Auburn, beat Missouri, and then everything is back on track. Beat Florida, and then with Southern Miss next, the season is back on the rails. This is still the most talented team in the country, and now it’s gut-check time to see if it can actually play like it.