I’m always hesitant to throw out the “best-ever” label, especially in this league.
But as we look forward to what should be one exhilarating ride to the finish of this college football season, LSU has a chance to put a bow on what would be the most impressive season in SEC history.
Before all the stones from other SEC locales come flying my way, I’m not saying that LSU is the best or most talented team to ever play in this league, although the Tigers are plenty talented.
I’m not saying the Tigers have the most dominant defense. I’m not even saying they are clearly the best team in the country this season.
What I am saying –- if they manage to make it through unscathed the rest of the way –- is that no team in SEC history would have done more, overcome more or put together a more impressive résumé in a season than these Tigers.
Stay with me on this.
LSU (11-0, 7-0) has already beaten six nationally ranked teams this season. Two of those wins came over top-5 teams, both away from home. The 9-6 overtime win against Alabama came at Bryant-Denny Stadium, where the Crimson Tide had won 25 of their last 26 games.
The Tigers face their third top-5 foe of the season Friday, when No. 3-ranked Arkansas comes to Tiger Stadium.
So that would be conquest No. 3 during the regular season over a top-5 opponent.
The SEC championship game would match LSU against a Georgia team that could be a top-10 team at that point and certainly nationally ranked.
If you’re keeping count, that would be eight nationally ranked teams that the Tigers had to go through, including three top-5 teams, before they ever even reached the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.
If they make it to New Orleans, chances are they would have to beat Alabama for a second time this season.
That would be four top-5 teams in the same season, including one of those teams twice -– and both times away from home.
Granted, the Superdome is akin to LSU’s second home. But it’s still not Tiger Stadium, and the tickets are distributed evenly.
And the very idea of beating Alabama twice in one season –- this Alabama team with this defense -– is pretty heady stuff.
But that’s almost certainly the path that awaits the Tigers if they can take care of Arkansas on Friday and Alabama handles its business with Auburn on Saturday.
I’m sure a lot of fans out there are saying that there’s no way LSU can make it through such a gauntlet with an unblemished record, and I’m not sure I believe the Tigers can.
But I’m not betting against them, either.
This is a team that hasn’t once taken its eye off the prize. That’s despite just about everything that could go wrong off the field going wrong.
The Tigers’ first-year offensive coordinator, Steve Kragthorpe, had to give up play-calling duties after announcing he has Parkinson’s disease in August.
A few weeks later, the infamous bar brawl went down, resulting in a suspension for senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson that lasted four games. He wasn’t even allowed to practice after being accused of kicking somebody in the face.
Originally charged with a felony, Jefferson appeared before a grand jury, and the charge was dropped to a misdemeanor.
Fellow senior Jarrett Lee was the Tigers’ quarterback during Jefferson’s absence and was the picture of efficiency. Lee threw a pair of interceptions in the Alabama game, and Jefferson has started the last two games.
Nobody has seemed to blink, though. The Tigers just keep rolling along.
They were also without one of their top receivers, Russell Shepard, who was suspended for the first three games over an NCAA issue.
Their best offensive lineman, Josh Dworaczyk, has missed the entire season with a knee injury, while junior center P.J. Lonergan has missed several games with injuries.
And just prior to the Auburn game on Oct. 22, another off-the-field grenade landed right in the Tigers’ laps.
Cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon and starting running back Spencer Ware were suspended for a game after testing positive for synthetic marijuana.
LSU responded by going out that weekend and playing perhaps its most complete game of the season in a 45-10 blistering of Auburn.
In fact, Alabama is the only team to come within single digits of LSU all season. Oregon and Mississippi State were the next closest, each losing by 13 points.
And when you start talking about suffocating defenses, the Tigers have now gone seven straight games in which they've allowed 11 or fewer points. They moved up to No. 2 nationally this week, behind Alabama, in both scoring and total defense.
They also rank first nationally in turnovers lost –- six in 11 games.
There’s always a little luck involved in winning a national championship, and the ball needs to bounce just right in a few key situations.
The Tigers are still going to need a few of those bounces.
And if they get them and finish up what already has been a remarkable run by winning these next three games, I repeat what I said earlier.
It will go down as the greatest season in SEC history.