Hard as it might be to believe, we have reached the midpoint of the college football season for many of the SEC teams. We look at what's happened to each of them and where they might go from here.
At some point, don't you have to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop? I mean, we're going on two straight weeks of bizarre finishes and as many as six consecutive games were LSU hasn't looked as good as a lot of people would like them to look -- and Les Miles and his crew are still undefeated at the midpoint.
And it's not like they've done it against a bunch of cupcakes. Sure, the 6-0 record includes facing North Carolina's seventh string, defeating a Vanderbilt that is very much Vanderbilt and beating Tennessee in one of the strangest series of late-game events since ... well, since LSU's last season. But don't you have to give them credit at some point?
Because for all the games LSU has played against teams who aren't the strongest in the world, and for all the final-minute antics that have contributed to that perfect start, the Bayou Bengals are the only team in the SEC to boast six wins against teams from BCS conferences. Improving Mississippi State, new Big East conference favorite West Virginia and Florida are also part of the Tigers' resume. Sure, Florida might not be "Florida" this year, but they're also not what you would consider a bad team.
But part of the hesitance to embrace LSU can be traced back to the teams they haven't faced: Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn. By the end of this weekend, each of those teams will have faced one of the other favorites in the SEC West. LSU will wait another week, visiting Auburn next Saturday in the always-entertaining showdown between the two Tigers of the SEC.
The other thing that's causing some reluctance is the simple fact that LSU is awful on offense. No one can really argue with this, even LSU fans. (In fact, the repeated calls for Gary Crowton's job are proof that Tiger fans are enthusiastically on board with this particular criticism.) Sure, defense wins championships in almost all conferences at all levels of football, and particularly in the SEC. But you have to have the ability to move the ball with some regularity, and ranking 10th out of 12 SEC teams isn't the way to do it.
Then again, as long as John Chavis can keep that defense running at this high a level, there's no reason to count LSU out of any game on its schedule. Auburn and Arkansas will be challenges for Chavis or any defensive coordinator to figure out, but successfully slowing down those attacks would make LSU just as much a contender for the national championship as any other undefeated team in the country.
Meanwhile, this weekend breaks LSU's string of AQ opponents, with McNeese State traveling to Baton Rouge for the Tigers' virtual bye. Late-game heroic would actually count against the Bengals in that case, and nothing that happens is likely to impress the skeptics who think of LSU as a paper tiger. But LSU doesn't have to impress anyone right now; all the Bengals have to do is keep winning.