Commentary

LSU's final BCS hurdle

The Tigers are nearing a title game berth, and their profile is improving

Originally Published: November 21, 2011
By Jeff Dooley | ESPN Insider
Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson & Steve KragthorpeDerick E. Hingle/US PresswireQuarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson have quietly led a capable LSU offense.

If LSU Tigers fans weren't already nervous enough about their team having to play the Arkansas Razorbacks and (potentially) Georgia Bulldogs in the next two weeks, losses this weekend by three BCS top-5 teams -- the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Oregon Ducks and Oklahoma Sooners -- provided yet another reminder of how quickly the national title race can change.

The good news for the Tigers, however, is that for the first time this year their statistical profile is beginning to closely resemble those of past BCS champions.

LSU has lagged behind for most of the season in our Eliminator model (which tracks the BCS and conference champions based on statistical benchmarks set by past champs), coming up short in several key offensive categories which have proved to be critical for past title winners.

After their blowout win against the Ole Miss Rebels, however, the Tigers moved from "fail" to "pass" in the yards per play and yards per rush benchmarks. They'll have to fare well during their next two games to stay at the pace set by past BCS champions, but heading into the season's final two weeks, it's important to keep in mind that while LSU is a team that wins in large part due to its dominance on defense and special teams, it is not a team that is winning in spite of its offense.

The two-headed quarterback rotation of Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson has produced a passing efficiency rating that is top-10 nationally, and the Tigers boast the nation's best turnover margin in large part due to the fact that they've given up the fewest turnovers (six) in the country (the next-best team in the SEC, the Alabama Crimson Tide, has given up 11). The yards per play and yards per rush metrics measure how efficiently a team moves the ball overall and on the ground, respectively, meaning that LSU has an offense that stacks up very well, across the board, when compared to past national champions.