November 01, 2011
Daily errata on the Game of the Century of the Century.
• The Lee Generation. In August, it was a truth universally acknowledged that LSU's offense was a burden on the Tigers' championship hopes, beginning with the quarterback: In two years with Jordan Jefferson under center, the Tigers finished dead last in the SEC in total offense in 2009 and next-to-last in 2010, despite blue-chip talent at every turn. They were almost as bad as Vanderbilt. A huge segment of the fan base was certain the quarterback situation was going to cost them a title, and that was before Jefferson got tangled up in a felony battery charge that put him on ice for the start of the season. The No. 2 option, Jarrett Lee, was another senior who'd had to be talked out of transferring after his status as the SEC's reining pick-six king cost him the starting job in 2008.
There's almost no way to reconcile that version of Lee, who was 7-4 as a starter, with the one that's shown up this year with increasing efficiency and poise. After two months, he's the most efficient passer in the SEC, ranks second in completion percentage and owns the best touchdown-to-interception ratio — 13 TDs to just one pick in 155 attempts — in the nation. The LSU offense as a whole hasn't committed a turnover in five consecutive games, and has scored at least 35 points in all five. Junior receiver Rueben Randle has emerged as a threat on par with his five-star clippings, hauling in four touchdown passes covering at least 40 yards in three games.
At the moment, LSU ranks 81st nationally (6th in the SEC) in total offense, which is even more misleading than Oklahoma State's standing on defense: Under Lee, the Tigers have taken care of the ball as well as any offense in the country, taken advantage of scoring opportunities as well as any offense in the country, fostered as much balance as any team in the country and flashed some legitimate big-play chops for the first time in years. On the field, the apparent mismatch with the top-ranked 'Bama D won't be nearly as lopsided as it appears on paper.
• Hot ticket. Not surprisingly, ticket prices for the game are the highest of the year, by far, but they're also on the decline: The market appears to have peaked last week at an average of $804 per ticket, but has already fallen closer to $700 — only 10 times the face value. (Again, that's the average: You can still get individual tickets for less than $400, which sounds like a bargain. You know, children don't really need as much food or clothing as the "experts" like you to think.)
At any rate, even the discounted rates still rank far above the second-priciest ticket of the season, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State (currently trading for a little over $600), as well the most expensive seats of the 2010 regular season, Army-Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium ($583) and/or Ohio State-Michigan ($423), depending on who you ask. Already this year, online ticket broker FanSnap has estimated that four other regular season games — Notre Dame-Michigan, Oklahoma-Texas, Nebraska-Wisconsin and Ohio State-Nebraska — managed to fetch more than $400 a ticket, which is not normal.
• Quote of the Day. "I think these games are played in between the white lines. It is overly important not to spoil an opportunity. Our guys have been guided along those lines as we approach this game. To be honest, I told them that we needed no Twitter personalities in this game. We want to as a team honor this opponent and play with our very best effort."
— LSU coach Les Miles, on why he's told his players to steer clear of social media this week.
• Tale of the Tape: Talent vs. Talent.
Quickly… The Wall Street Journal takes a big-picture approach to the "Game of the Century." … Alabama's Albert McCullough worked at right guard today for the second practice in a row. … The head official Saturday is no stranger to this game. … And even LSU fans are still wondering if Les Miles is really smart or really dumb.