All On The Line

LSU to battle Clemson in the title game
LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

The year 2019 will go down in the history books as one of the finest for football in Louisiana. On the college level, Nicholls State and Southeastern qualified for the FCS Playoffs, Southern went to the SWAC Championship, Louisiana Tech shut out the University of Miami to win the Independence Bowl and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns won 10 games and will appear in something called the Lending Tree Bowl. There are success stories everywhere and, I’m sure you did not forget, Tulane and LSU still have big games ahead.

Then, of course, everyone’s favorite NFL team is heading to the playoffs.

 

New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints (13-3) were in no mood to mess with the depleted Carolina Panthers (5-11) and quickly jumped out to a commanding lead, never letting up in a 42-10 win in the regular season finale.

The game was over before it began. The defense would only record two sacks but repeatedly rang Carolina starting quarterback Will Grier’s bell, forcing the rookie to quit (fine, they called it a foot injury) early in the second quarter.

It was an old fashioned butt whoopin’ but not without some noteworthy, um, notes. First and foremost, Carolina may have given the playoff teams some insight into how to play Michael Thomas, who would finish with only three catches. Thomas took a few big hits early and always had a defensive back in his face whenever the ball arrived.

On the flip side, and due to the focus on Thomas (and Ted Ginn Jr. remaining an afterthought at best), Tre’Quan Smith finally shined a bit on a day that saw the second-year wide receiver catch five passes. The Saints need this kid to do this every week. A three-headed attack of Thomas, Smith and tight end Jared Cook could lead this club to the Promised Land.

Unfortunately, even after a spectacular 13-3 season, the Week 14 shootout loss to the 49ers came back to haunt the Saints in their quest for a first round bye. The playoff scenarios didn’t go the Saints way on Sunday and New Orleans will now host the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday in the Superdome. After that win, they will be on the road to play the Green Bay Packers.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

LSU Tigers

Record books. It’s all about record books with Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers (14-0). The latest re-writing occurred in the College Football Playoff game that saw LSU make a mockery of the inclusion of the Oklahoma Sooners (12-2) in a 63-28 blow out, a score which, unbelievably doesn’t capture just how bad of a beating took place.

The game was a joke. The game was an embarrassment to the NCAA Playoff format. The game was hilarious to watch. Within six minutes it was all too obvious that LSU had already faced three tougher teams this year at least and the outcome will call into question adding any Big 10 team to the playoff field in the near future.

In just a kiss over three quarters of work, Joe Burrow would pass for 493 yards and 7 touchdowns while adding a rushing touchdown because why not? Most of his passes found there way into the hands of Justin Jefferson, who also put up video game stats with 14 catches for 227 yards and 4 touchdowns. So, on the season so far, Burrow has thrown for 5,208 yards, 55 touchdowns against 6 interceptions. Good lord, man.

Wild to say, but, even after that display, this team could still be improving overall as the Tigers defense is starting to make major impacts on opposing offenses. The Tigers completely handled Oklahoma (three of OU’s touchdowns were in garbage time) after only giving up 10 points to Georgia in the SEC Championship.

At this point, the team’s biggest hurdle, aside from the Clemson Tigers (14-0) who have won 29 games in a row, may be not listening to the “greatest team ever” hype that is being thrown around.

LSU and Clemson play for the title in the Super Dome on Jan. 13. One way or the other, it’s going to be a classic.

 

Tulane Green Wave

The buzz died down around Coach Willie Fritz leaving town for bigger pastures and the goal remains the same: win back-to-back bowl games. A victory for Tulane (6-6) also gives the team a true winning season instead an awkwardly worded “non-losing regular season” (modern parlance for a team that finishes 6-7 with a bowl loss).

In an awesome matchup that begs to be played somewhere halfway between New Orleans and Hattiesburg instead of the Armed Forces Bowl in Texas, the Green Wave square up against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (8-4) in a revival of the, “Battle Of The Bell.” Southern Miss leads the all-time series 23-7 and has won the last nine out of 10 games, but the teams haven’t played one another since 2010. Point being, history is cool, but this a Wave team with a new attitude — one that expects wins.

It will have been almost five weeks since their last game when Tulane takes the field on Jan. 4, which could be a blessing. Justin McMillan and the passing attack faded down the stretch and couldn’t keep up with opposing offenses that were ringing up the once-stout Tulane defense to the tune of 37 points a game as the team would only post one victory over the last six games.

Yet, in the end, the Green Wave made it to their second consecutive bowl game and a win sends everyone into the offseason with a smile with another great recruiting class coming to campus. Now, let’s get this game moved to a big high school in Biloxi and really throw some spice on it. Roll Wave.

 

Quite the year so far but it’s a long way from over. Who Dat!

 

 

 

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