For as limited as LSU was offensively for most of this season, it’s amazing that the Tigers finished up as well as they did.
That tells you a little something about how good they were on defense and special teams, although their defensive production waned those last couple of games.
The Tigers (10-2) struggled to throw the football for a second year in a row. They’re ranked 107th in passing offense, and junior quarterback Jordan Jefferson threw just four touchdown passes and nine interceptions in 12 starts.
For the second half of the season, Jarrett Lee also rotated in at quarterback. He threw just two touchdown passes, but they both came in the 33-29 win at Florida, including Lee’s 3-yard scoring pass to Terrence Toliver.
In vintage Les Miles fashion, the Tigers kept finding different ways to win despite their shortcomings on offense, and in fairness, junior running back Stevan Ridley had a very good season running the football. He’s one of four SEC players to rush for 1,000 yards and enters the bowl game with 1,042 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.
John Chavis’ defense was one of the best in the country and still ranks eighth nationally going into the bowl game, but the Tigers showed some wear on that side of the ball in those last two games.
Offensive MVP: Running back Stevan Ridley. He showed flashes a year ago when he received some opportunities after Charles Scott was injured. But as the centerpiece of the Tigers’ running game, Ridley flourished with 1,042 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s one of the more physical runners in the league.
Defensive MVP: Cornerback Patrick Peterson. Defensive tackle Drake Nevis and linebacker Kelvin Sheppard deserve some serious consideration, too, but Peterson is the best cornerback in college football. He had four interceptions and forces teams to go to the other side of the field because they don't want to throw in his direction.
Turning point: The 24-21 win over Alabama set the Tigers up nicely for a BCS bowl and was easily their most complete game of the season. All they had to do was win out, but Arkansas stole their BCS bid away the final week of the regular season.
What’s next: LSU will face Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, hoping to cap the season with 11 wins. Miles still has a decision to make about offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, who has come under considerable fire with the Tigers finishing 11th in the SEC in total offense this season and last a year ago. Miles was non-committal last week about any changes he might make on his staff.