Standing the Heat
LSU at Ole Miss (3:30 ET CBS)
SEC Game of the Week
November 11, 2007
By Bob Epling
“If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”
President Harry Truman
LSU and head coach Les Miles move back into the kitchen this week.
Ole Miss and head coach Ed Orgeron might as well pitch a cot in there.
When LSU visits Ole Miss Saturday, the pressure on both teams and both head coaches will be heating up.
While neither team nor either coach is facing the type pressure old Harry S contended with, there is still plenty of heat involved in this contest.
For LSU, the heat comes with being ranked the #1 team in college football.
The boys from Baton Rouge, 58-10 winners over Louisiana Tech, will find themselves on that lofty perch this week courtesy of an Ohio State loss to Illinois.
The Bengal Tigers now have a clear path to the national championship.
Beat Ole Miss on the road this Saturday. Beat Arkansas at home on November 23. Beat the SEC East representative in the conference championship game at the Georgia Dome on December 1. Win the BCS title game in New Orleans on January 7.
Easy path to plot … perhaps a tough row to hoe.
For Ole Miss, the heat comes with being the 12th best team in a twelve team conference.
The Rebels were idle last week, but saw yet another of their Southeastern Conference brethren gain bowl eligibility. To make matters worse, the team was in-state rival Mississippi State thanks to a big win over Alabama. Should the Vanderbilt Commodores win one of their final two games every team in the SEC except the Rebels will be eligible for the post-season.
That’s a pretty hot spot for Ole Miss.
The pressure on both of these coaches continues to build too.
At LSU, Les Miles faces the heat of exceptional expectations.
Nothing less than a national championship will be considered acceptable on the bayou this season, and it would help if the Bengal Tigers won every game by four touchdowns too.
Miles gained some relief by beating Alabama and (former Tiger coach) Nick Saban a couple weeks ago, but even in the victory the Tigers played sloppily.
Aside from on-field expectations, the Michigan issue continues to bake.
When the Wolverines lost two games to open the season, rumors ran rampant than Miles (a Michigan man) would be targeted to take over Big Blue whenever Lloyd Carr departed. That consensus lingers and a Michigan loss to Wisconsin last weekend only adds another log to the slow-burning fire.
LSU fans want LSU to be the dream job of their coach.
At Ole Miss, Ed Orgeron is stewing somewhere between Arkansas’ Houston Nutt (full boil) and Tennessee’s Phil Fulmer (steady simmer).
That the heat is not turned up higher on Coach O seems to suggest one of two attitudes.
Some Ole Miss supporters may believe the recruiting bonanza expected of Orgeron to be in the pipeline with better days around the corner (although his biggest coups have actually been from transfers). Others Rebel rooters may be simply accepting bottom-feeder status in the conference hierarchy.
LSU should win this game, but two factors suggest it could be closer than most might think.
First, Ole Miss traditionally plays the Bengal Tigers tough.
Four of the past five meetings have been decided by a field goal or less, including last season’s 23-20 overtime loss. Even during the LSU national championship season of 2003, the Tigers only beat Ole Miss 17-14 in Oxford.
Second, LSU simply makes a lot of mistakes.
The Tigers needed late-game heroics to beat Alabama, Auburn, and Florida. They blew a lead in a loss to Kentucky. Sometimes the coaching strategy leads us to scratch our heads.
Even with all that heat, the kitchen is a pretty good place to be in Cajun country right now.
Game Ball: LSU
Quote: “I smiled on the sideline.” LSU coach Les Miles upon hearing that top-ranked Ohio State lost.