5 Thoughts - Ryan Perri-Who?
LSU QB Jarrett Lee
LSU QB Jarrett Lee
Posted Sep 21, 2008

Why USC has to win and win big, in praise of the LSU coaching staff, dogging the Florida State situation, and the new SEC quarterback star in this week's 5 Thoughts.

5 Thoughts ... Sept. 22

Five Thoughts: 2007 Thoughts | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

But the team gets extra style points for the cheerleaders

By Pete Fiutak   

1. I don’t mean to pile on the poor Pac 10, but it's becoming more important than ever to realize just how much this league has clunked after Arizona State got run over by Georgia and with Oregon losing at home to Boise State. I know that Oregon was down to throwing the No. 2 sousaphone player at quarterback, but that doesn’t excuse a lousy day from the secondary.

The bad play of the Pac 10 really wouldn't matter all that much except for one thing: the No. 1 team in the land plays in the league.

Now, every Pac 10 team but USC has a non-conference loss. The Big Ten still has four unbeaten teams, and before you scoff, Wisconsin won at Fresno State, when Oregon couldn’t beat a WAC team at home, and Penn State throttled Oregon State. The Big 12 has seven unbeaten teams. The Big East has two, and the Mountain West, a.k.a. the Pac 10 Max, has five who have gotten through non-conference play so far without a loss.

USC had better win every game, and win big.

I’m not saying USC isn’t the best team in America, and I’m certainly not saying an unbeaten Trojan team can’t win the national championship, but would USC win the SEC or Big 12 title? .... Ehhhhhh, maybe, but it wouldn't be a lock.

Thanks to its conference, USC can’t take a week off. It’s not necessarily fair, but that’s the reality after the way this season has started. If Georgia can drop from No. 1 for doing nothing more than survive a nasty road battle at South Carolina, then the same logic will have to be applied to the Trojans if they don't blow up against this mediocre schedule.

Yeah, this season, style points count.

Ryan Perri-who?

By Pete Fiutak   

2. LSU won a big game on Saturday night. Maybe more important, it might have found a quarterback to build around for the next four years. It’s not as if the program didn’t know what it had in redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee. He was one of the nation’s top recruits, when the Tigers plucked him out of Brenham (Tex.) High School two years ago. However, no coaching staff really knows what it has until the lights are on and the road crowd is trying to intimidate from every corner of the stadium.

For reasons that extend well beyond the numbers, Lee was remarkable in the first big test of his college career. He bounced back from a terrible pick six in the second quarter to lead LSU to a monumental win over rival Auburn. Freshmen just don’t do that in SEC games of this magnitude. He hung tough in the pocket on a beautiful touchdown pass to Chris Mitchell that cut the lead to four points in the third quarter. On the game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute, he put the ball where only Brandon LaFell could make the grab. Lee always had the physical ability to play the position at this level, but on Saturday night, he proved to everyone in attendance that he also has the make-up, moxie, and maturity inherent to all great quarterbacks. LSU is going to win titles with Jarrett Lee under center. Because of the way the redshirt freshman performed on the Plains Saturday night after starter Andrew Hatch had his bell rung, those titles could come to Baton Rouge as early as this fall.    

And Jimbo had better be really, really strong.

By Richard Cirminiello

It's over. The Bobby Bowden era needs to come to a polite close.

We’ve all got reverence for what Bowden has accomplished at Florida State. It goes without saying that he’s a legend regardless of what the Seminoles have been mired in over the past few seasons. However, the program shows no signs of breaking through with Bowden at the controls. In fact, it might be getting worse. Witness Saturday night’s miserable loss to Wake Forest, the ‘Noles third straight to the Demon Deacons. Florida State was out played and out coached by a very solid program, but one that doesn’t have as much talent as the team in garnet and gold. If you’re keeping score at home, Florida State has registered exactly three points in the last two games with Wake Forest at Doak Campbell Stadium. That is wholly unacceptable for this program, and unlikely to change as long as it’s business as usual on the sidelines.

On the other hand, Bowden’s best measuring stick, fellow AARP member Joe Paterno, is enjoying a rebirth of sorts at Penn State. These days, both are tower coaches, delegating more than they get their hands dirty, but the Nittany Lions are flourishing where the Seminoles are floundering. While Paterno has found the right formula and pushed the right buttons to get Penn State up to No. 12 in the latest polls, Florida State appears lost once again. Maybe the ‘Noles regroup after Saturday’s feeble loss. More likely, however, they’re going to lose a handful of games and move another year further from the glory days when ACC championships were as perennial as the change of seasons. It’s time for a change at the top in Tallahassee, but let's hope it all ends on a high note for one of the game's greats. This team isn't a representative of one of the all-time great careers.              

That's not just a hat rack

By Matthew Zemek

4. After last year's roller-coaster ride, on and off the field, who knew what Les Miles would bring to the table this season for LSU? After watching Saturday's game in Jordan-Hare Stadium, one can only tip one's hat to the Hat, who--in tandem with a very safe-in-his-skin coordinator, Gary Crowton--had his untested quarterbacks ready to perform under pressure.
He's received his share of knocks--and deservedly so--after some baffling bouts with brain cramps over the years (then again, this writer has had his own personal share of them; the human condition demands that the species will experience the agony of a misfiring synapse every now and then), but on a larger overall level, it's clear that Miles has maintained the trust and confidence of his players. That says something very significant about a man who was THISCLOSE to Ann Arbor last December.
Mr. Miles has to be marveling--with a little bit of quiet awe, I'd imagine--at the ways in which life's long and winding road has turned in his favor. While Rich Rodriguez has a long-term reclamation project on his hands at Michigan, the Hat has LSU atop the SEC West along with a certain soul named Saban. Four weeks into the 2008 campaign, Les Miles has to be very satisfied with the way his team has begun to defend its national championship.

Yeah, and I bought those .com stocks in 2001, too.

By Steve Silverman   

5. I may be a little late to the party, but they can really play football down in the SEC.

After years of defending the Big Ten in print and over the air waves, I submit fully to the SEC. All you have to do is look at the events of Saturday and in particular Saturday night. Start off with Georgia going out to Arizona State and giving the Sun Devils a thorough 27-10 spanking. It’s not only that they went out to Pac-10 country and won, it’s the way they did it. Mark Richt’s squad was not particularly impressive in the first half, but the second half was a different story. All the Sun Devils could get was one third-quarter touchdown in the first five minutes of the second half. Arizona State could muster nothing after that. Georgia looked every bit as dominating as they could possibly have hoped for prior to this visit to Tempe.

That was an excellent performance, but LSU and Auburn produced oohs and ahhs throughout the game. Auburn builds the double-digit lead at home and LSU keeps fighting. LSU takes the lead, Auburn comes back and then Les Miles’ team gets the win on Jarrett Lee’s 18-yard TD pass to Brandon LeFell with 1:03 left. Of course, LSU closes the deal with its defense.

That’s what SEC football is about and even Big Ten dinosaurs have come around.