From 2014 to 2017, it became a rite of the offseason to over-glorify the Tigers, only to watch them stumble come fall. The same thing happened in 2020 and ‘21.
This is the first time, though, it has happened with a $10 million coach on the sideline.
No. 12 LSU should expect more for its money than this — this being a 55-49 loss to No. 20 Ole Miss on Saturday.
The Rebels (4-1, 1-1 SEC) have talented players on offense, and they were as healthy as they’ve been all season, while LSU’s secondary wasn’t playing at full strength.
But LSU (3-2, 2-1) never should surrender 706 yards. Never should it so sorely lack cornerbacks who can cover. Never should its defensive front be so soft and cuddly.
Brian Kelly can’t reasonably be expected to produce an infallible product in 22 months, but he can be expected to produce an defense that doesn’t surrender 55 points, and he can be expected to not squander a two-score fourth-quarter lead.
Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin compared LSU’s offense to 2020 Alabama. What praise. Or maybe it was a clever jab at LSU for losing despite all of that firepower. Either way, Jayden Daniels and his supporting cast of Brian Thomas Jr., Malik Nabers and Logan Diggs impersonated 2020 Alabama. By Kiffin's estimation, LSU is blessed with perhaps the nation’s best defensive talent in Harold Perkins.
Yeah, and how about the other 10 guys? Store mannequins have put up more resistance than these Tigers.
“We need to be pissed off about what happened and have some resolve about our circumstance,” Kelly said. “That’s not a standard of play that’s acceptable.”
Kelly and his Tigers deserved praise for winning the SEC West in 2022. Given how much talent they returned, I thought they again would be headed for double-digit victories.
INSIDE THE LOSS: Just how bad was LSU football's tackling? Bad.
When you examine the record, though, what does Kelly’s LSU résumé show through 19 games, aside from beating Alabama last November? I won’t downplay that victory. Beating Nick Saban in Year 1 is substantial. But that was 11 months ago, and that win is left carrying a lot of water after a most disappointing start to this season.
Now LSU claims the throne previously held by Texas A&M, while Kelly grabs Jimbo Fisher’s scepter as king of the overhyped.
The Tigers should feel at home. They’ve been here before, just never with Kelly as their coach.
If Georgia football keeps playing with fire, it’ll get burned
No. 1 Georgia required a Herculean effort from tight end Brock Bowers to fend off an Auburn team that plays with one hand behind its back, because the Tigers can’t move the ball through the air.
A white-knuckle 27-20 victory against an opponent that’ll be fortunate to make a bowl game doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in Georgia’s chance of three-peating as national champion.
It also heightens my interest in Georgia’s game Saturday against fellow undefeated Kentucky. This may prove to be one of Mark Stoops’ best UK teams. And this isn't Kirby Smart’s best team.
Georgia (5-0, 2-0) isn't as explosive on offense, nor as disruptive on defense. Imagine Auburn rushing for 219 yards against either of the Bulldogs' defenses the past two seasons.
So much attention has been focused on their regressed offense that it clouds another important reality: They rank near the bottom of the SEC in tackles for loss and sacks.
If this is as good as Georgia gets, its season might include a stop in Atlanta, but I don’t think a trip to Houston for the national championship game will be. And that No. 1 in front of its name reflects past performances by players not around anymore, rather than the product we’ve seen this year.
Best line I heard this week
“We’re witnessing history, fellas.” — the sarcastic quip from an NFL scout seated in the press box, after a record Ole Miss crowd of 66,703 was announced at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Second-best line I heard this week
Bar Patron 1 says to Patron 2 on a Friday night in Tupelo, Mississippi: “What’s State gonna do tomorrow?”
Patron 2 responds bluntly: “We’re gonna get the (expletive) beat out of us.”
Prescient words from the bar counter.
Final score: Alabama 40, Mississippi State 17.
Three and out
1. I had two thoughts as I watched Kentucky dismantle Florida 33-14 behind Ray Davis’ 280 rushing yards. How did Tennessee lose to these Gators? (I can’t answer that.) And, how is Florida (3-2) going to make a bowl game? (It probably isn’t.)
2. Georgia made winning “Between the Hedges” synonymous with Sanford Stadium. I’m thinking Vanderbilt should trademark “Losing between the Cranes.” Fortunately for Vanderbilt fans, the sweet relief of women’s bowling season has nearly arrived.
I made a detour to Nashville today to cover Mizzou-Vanderbilt football. Bonus points for putting it between the cranes. I love the variety of a basketball/soccer/drag racing/football week. pic.twitter.com/ZhuyZqth6n
— stu durando (@studurando) September 30, 2023
3. Next week is prove-it Saturday for Missouri (5-0) and Kentucky (5-0). Mizzou will host spiraling LSU. Kentucky will travel to Georgia. Imagine the panic in the SEC offices in Birmingham if Kentucky upsets Georgia. Imagine the drunken vitriol in Baton Rouge if LSU loses to Missouri.
The "Topp Rope" is his twice-weekly SEC football column published throughout the USA TODAY Network. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it. Also, check out his podcast, SEC Football Unfiltered, or access exclusive columns via the SEC Unfiltered newsletter.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: LSU football: Brian Kelly takes Jimbo Fisher's throne as king of overrated