— NEW ORLEANS - As you push away from the table, the expression down in these parts is “I’m as full as a tick.” You eat until you almost pop.
“Tonight, everybody wanted to eat,” said LSU wide receiver Demetrius Byrd, who was speaking of Tigers, not ticks.
By everybody, Byrd meant everybody. That’s why LSU dominated Ohio State, 38-24. Wide receivers, tight ends, running backs, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, safeties, cornerbacks. They came at Ohio State from every angle and they all took a bite out of the Buckeyes.
So here is one of those sweeping generalizations that people loathe, you know, like the one about the SEC having more speed than the Big Ten.
The SEC has more football players, more playmakers, than the Big Ten. The SEC doesn’t just have more speed; it has more of everything.
Ohio State had Chris Wells running the ball and a nice player in wide receiver Brian Hartline catching the ball.
LSU had eight guys running the ball; they also had eight guys catching the ball. How unfair is that? There were 13 different skill guys trusted enough in the national championship game to either catch a pass or run with the ball.
Ohio State didn’t flop. It just got worn out by better players.
Gary Crowton, the offensive coordinator, said the depth of LSU’s talent allows him to have packages and sets and looks galore. The reason is if a defense lines up a certain way or makes an adjustment, the Tigers have an answer.
It’s like having five guys on a basketball team who can score in double figures. Where’s the weakness?
The truckload of playmakers is why a quarterback like Matt Flynn can be named MVP of the national championship game and then, three months later, take a nap during the first round of the NFL draft because he doesn’t have to worry about getting picked.
“He’s a project quarterback,” said former NFL quarterback and broadcast analyst Gary Danielson said. “He’s definitely draftable, but probably in the second round. He needs three or four years to refine things, but I think he can make it.”
Guys like Flynn show up like this from time to time, under a veil, and not easy to recognize, even harder to appreciate, and make it possible for a team to win a title.
Tee Martin comes to mind. He was the quarterback who followed Peyton Manning at Tennessee and won a national title. Manning, you remember, was the Chosen One, but he couldn’t beat Florida and he couldn’t win a national title.
Martin had guts and smarts — like Flynn — but he also had a lot to work with, a roster full of guys who ended playing on Sunday in the NFL. Tennessee won a national title in 1998 with that chemistry.
Now here comes Flynn, following JaMarcus Russell, the Tigers' quarterback in 2007.
LSU didn’t just have playmakers on offense Monday night; it had some wizards on defense, too.
Glenn Dorsey is the All-American, but the defensive MVP of the game was Ricky Jean-Francois, a tackle who was in on six tackles and part of a sack. It was his second game of the season because he was ineligible up until the SEC championship game.
Craig Steltz, the All-American safety, suffered a shoulder injury in the first half, but reserve Harry Coleman made plays in his place. On Ohio State’s first possession of the fourth quarter, after the Buckeyes had gotten some momentum with a touchdown, a drive stopped when Coleman recovered a fumble following a sack.
The playmakers are not the only thing that separate the SEC and the Big Ten. What about the bravado of the fans?
The clocking was ticking down and the full-throated fans started chanting “SEC, SEC, SEC.”
You ever hear a crowd chant “Big Ten, Big Ten”? The passion of the SEC fans — they always lead the country in attendance — pays the big salaries to the coaches, who chase the big paycheck, and chase the big playmakers … all of them it seems.
There were too many playmakers for Ohio State, which is how a Michigan Man, Les Miles, thumped those Buckeyes good for all the folks back home.
On this same floor last week, Georgia thought it laid claim to the national championship with its convincing rout of unbeaten Hawaii. There has been week-long barking in Athens — whining really — about how the Dawgs felt they should have been in this game.
Georgia, which finished No. 2 in the AP poll, didn’t want any part of this game, unless Ohio State was on the other side of the field. The Bulldogs have some depth of talent, just like LSU, but Georgia doesn’t have the experience or the depth.
Southern California, the No. 2 team according to the coaches, has NFL players galore, but the Trojans lost to Stanford. They said their quarterback was hurt, but LSU beat a better team than Stanford — Tennessee — using their backup quarterback.
There should be no more argument over who is No. 1. LSU lost two games in triple overtime and survived a season where key players were injured and its coach was dogged by rumors he was leaving.
The Tigers deserve to be No. 1. If you don’t believe it, just examine the long list of playmakers for the reason why.