Is it possible to have a trap game the week before you play a powerhouse like Towson?
In this day and age of the SEC, is there even such a thing as a trap game?
This weekend, LSU marches into Jordan-Hare against the
mighty Tigers of Auburn. In year’s past this game proved to be daunting. Auburn, in a given year, is criminally loaded with NFL talent across the board. Even if they are the little brother to imperial reign of the Lord of Darkness in red, they still fall squarely in college football’s 1%. Cam Newton took the reins and lead them to perfection. Since then? Backsliding. Stumbling. Embarrassment.
When Jay Jacobs hired Gene Chizik, a brazen fan showed up at the run away to declare "We want a leader, not a loser." One 14-0 season and a BCS National Title, all seemed to be forgiven. Except, maybe not. Chizik has only 17 non-Cam Newton wins at Auburn. For the record, that’s only 3 more than he has with Cam Newton. Suddenly, things are rocky on the Plains. They are vulnerable. They are damaged. They are weak. They are talented, but you cannot tell. They are poorly coached. In just a year and three games they’ve gone from rising SEC Power staking their claim amongst the elite, to SEC laughing stock, getting pounded by Mississippi State (Mississippi State!) and sneaking out a victory against thorn-in-the-side ULM.
Thus, the trap game. Right?
The line opens at 18.5. At first glance, it seems modest. A beleaguered Auburn going up against a National-Title contender and they are only 18.5 dogs? Then again, when’s the last time an Auburn/LSU spread spanned 3 scores? Vegas is anticipating a beat down, just maybe not as large as the rest of us.
Can lifeless, pulseless, defeated, pathetic Auburn beat LSU?
The answer is
yes no. How could they? Even at home? Any hope Auburn had of sneaking up on LSU immediately disappeared when they noticed LSU’s next opponent was lowly Towson. There is no trap to be set. LSU won’t look past Auburn, game planning for next week’s opponent. They don’t have to. They can devote their sole focus to the destruction of the Plainstigereaglesmen.
Really, could there be any better entrance into conference play than destroying a division rival… on the road? True, this will be Mettenberger’s first "big" road test. True, Auburn is, theoretically, LSU’s strongest opponent to date. But are they any better than Washington? They are more talented, but better?
Yet, strange things always seem to happen in Jordan-Hare. Remember when Zach Gilbert tackled Early Doucet, drew a flag, only to see it inexplicably waved off? So there’s a chance, right? Naw, there’s not.
Imagine a scenario where Auburn wins. What exactly would it take? Extensive injuries to LSU? The loss of Mettenberger? A significant disparity in turnovers? A massive amount of penalties? Even if two or three of these happen, doesn’t it seem like LSU will still roll?
LSU, perhaps more than any other team in the country, is not built on a single force. Unlike the team of 2011, there is a passing threat. Even with the loss of defensive playmakers, they remain strong, perhaps more death by asphyxiation now than death by sudden, blunt-force trauma. They roll wave after wave after wave of talent onto the field. By the fourth quarter, their 3rd stringers are whipping most team’s exhausted front-line starters. Good teams, even really good teams with lots of talent, can barely withstand the onslaught. Oregon, West Virginia, Georgia, all posed a threat to LSU in 2011, only to eventually wilt away. Alabama is perhaps the only team in the SEC, nay, the nation, which can stand toe-to-toe in terms of overall depth and talent.
Two weeks ago, late 4th quarter in Baton Rouge. Two teams are still on the field, only one of them willingly. It's a skull dragging. It's merciless, torture-filled destruction. For all intents and purposes it ended sometime in the 3rd quarter, though it more realistically ended at the opening kickoff. The bourbon is flowing freely. Tailgates shut down just an hour or two before to head into the stadium are now lighting up again. It's dinner time for Tiger fans, but the Tigers already feasted. Washington didn't quit. No, they kept playing, hard as an exhausted, outmatched bunch could. They are still on the field, reluctant as they may be. They still have a 2,500+-mile flight home. They still have 10 games left to salvage their season.
Yet, they are still on the field. They are still playing defense. LSU is lining up, completely honestly and running straight ahead. Dives and off tackles. Pure, plain ole, straight-ahead-downhill-smash-mouth football. There is no intent to pass. There are no exotic designs or fancy reverses. It is north/south, wear-your-ass-out football. And there is absolutely nothing Washington can do about it. Todd Blackledge sees it. "This has to be so frustrating for Washington. You know exactly what is coming, and there is nothing you can do about it."
That is 2012 LSU Football. You know exactly what is coming... and there is nothing you can do about it.
So, is this a trap game for LSU? Only if the trap is stumbling into a simple victory.