Last team standing (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday January 8, 2008 3:14AM; Updated: Tuesday January 8, 2008 9:49AM
Ohio State had its chance to get back in the game, cutting the deficit to 31-17 late in the third quarter shortly after a momentum-changing, 23-yard Malcolm Jenkins interception return. After stopping the Tigers three-and-out, the Buckeyes drove to the Tigers' 31-yard-line early in the fourth quarter.
But then came consecutive plays that not only snuffed any remaining Buckeyes hopes but caused a nightmarish case of déjà vu from last year's title game. First on third-and-four, then again on fourth-and-eight, LSU defenders came barrelling in on the overmatched Boeckman, sacking him twice -- the latter, by linebacker Ali Highsmith, causing a fumble that the Tigers recovered 14 yards downfield.
The Tigers picked off Boeckman once more just for good measure, while holding Wells -- who finished with a seemingly impressive 146 yards on 20 carries -- to just 27 yards on 10 carries after halftime.
"We felt like they could not throw the ball well enough against us to win the game," said LSU coach Les Miles. "[The Buckeyes] certainly won their share of battles, but as the game wore on, our defensive line stopped their run, and our offensive line allowed us to pass and run the football."
Over the past four months, Miles has emerged as one of the most familiar and intriguing figures in the sport. Upon walking into his postgame press conference, the one-time almost-Michigan coach provided one of those oddball moments with which he's become synonymous, breaking off his opening statement to shout out: "Wahoo!"
Comedic moments aside, "The Hat" showed Monday night why it's high time to start taking him seriously when it comes to the actual art of football.
Pitted against a coach, Tressel, who's won more than his share of big games, Miles -- who's now won his three bowl games at LSU by a combined margin of 119-41 while raising his record at the school to 34-6 -- proved the more adept tactician. (He even threw in a familiar fourth-and-one attempt on the Tigers' final touchdown drive.)
After struggling to run the ball early, he put the ball in the hands of his trusted fifth-year quarterback, who promptly picked apart the Buckeyes' defense to the tune of 174 yards and four touchdowns on 19-of-27 passing.
This was no, straightforward attack, however -- LSU rotated formations seemingly by the play, lining up in the shotgun, lining up five wide and, most notably, making ample use of its tight ends. Dickson caught four passes for 44 yards, two of them wide-open touchdowns.
"We had a month to prepare for [Ohio State]," said Dickson. "We realized they didn't really cover the tight ends that well, and we put it in the game plan."