Lost in the malaise of the Florida victory and the USC stomp-down of UGA is the now long-forgotten thought... Is South Carolina really better than LSU?
Their offense is marginally better, sure. But their defense is also marginally worse. South Carolina is far more efficient passing the football. Other than that though? Not much statistical proof of their superiority, right? That miserable LSU offense you've been reading about all over the interwebz? They run the ball better than South Carolina. They average only 12 fewer yards a game. Both teams are identical in Red Zone offense. As bad as LSU's offense continues to be... South Carolina isn't significantly better (if at all).
Yet, none of this really matters. In the overall statistical war, the advantage would go to South Carolina. They've simply played better than LSU in 2012... particularly last week.
Unfortunately for South Carolina, this isn't a video game or a mathematical equation. Today will not be numbers in, numbers out, here is your winner. In fact, there is no amount of statistical reasoning that could make a stellar case for South Carolina. Even if they performed significantly better through the first five games, to the point where they were clear favorites in the contest... there still would not be a stellar case.
Writers, analysts and the lot can discuss and debate the schemes of both teams, how South Carolina is trending up and LSU is trending down... South Carolina fields Clowney, who could maybe beat LSU by himself. Yet, none of them, not one, are compelling reasons.
As I said above, there is no compelling reason for why South Carolina will beat LSU. Why? Because South Carolina will not beat LSU. It's simpler than math. It's simpler than schemes. It's simpler than trends. In fact, exactly none of those things will matter when the lights go on later tonight. Because there is one, significant advantage in LSU's corner: home-field advantage.
Check the records. The last time LSU lost at home was in 2009, to the Florida Gators. That's 24 games ago. That was also a night game. The last time they lost a night game in Tiger Stadium before then? 2005... in the Monday night disaster against Tennessee. The last time they lost a Saturday night game in Tiger Stadium before then? That would be against Alabama in 2002. LSU, at night, on a Saturday is a losing proposition for, well, most everyone. Les Miles, in 7.5 years, has lost only two games at night in Tiger Stadium, only one Saturday night game, against a team that wound up losing only one time that season.
So get the bourbon flowing. Get the gumbo piping hot and whip out the boudin. Make sure you drown in Abita. It's Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. Parse all the stats and break down all the tape you want, but there is only one compelling reason for why LSU will win this game: Nobody beats them at home on Saturday night.