The primaries are over.
Now let’s get on to the runoffs.
We’re not talking about the governor’s race.
Nah, this is the real one.
LSU’s upcoming slog through November — at Alabama, Arkansas at home, at Ole Miss and then at home against Texas A&M — that could end with either the Tigers headed for the Southeastern Conference championship game and the College Football Playoffs that almost certainly await with a victory there.
Or, well, didn’t you enjoy the Music City Bowl last year?
LSU’s consolation prize for not making College Football’s Final Four would probably be somewhat better than a return trip to Nashville. But in this second year of the playoff era, especially when you’ve started 7-0, anything less is like coming in second in an election.
You feel lower than Bobby Jindal’s poll numbers.
But let’s not talk about that now, especially with two weeks to get revved up for this year’s Game of the Century? against the Bammers, which will take place with at least the Tigers, and maybe the Tide in the top four of the initial CFP standings that will be revealed Nov. 3.
Instead, consider Saturday’s 48-20 homecoming victory against Western Kentucky before a half-empty Tiger Stadium whose announced turnout of 101,159 was either chased off by the rain or the desire stay home to watch the election returns.
Not only was Mike the Tiger a no show, but Big Red, the Hilltoppers’ ambiguous mascot was nowhere to be seen either. He (It?) could have been used to dry off.
At any rate, the game served as a proper warmup for the final month of the regular season, especially with an open date coming up. (Is it just me, or is there something wrong with LSU not playing on Halloween?)
The Hilltoppers, who received $900,000 for their efforts, were tougher to put away than they were in the 2011 homecoming game when they trailed 14-7 at halftime before ultimately succumbing 42-9.
This bunch, 6-1 coming with a chance to put themselves in the conversation for a CFP New Year’s Six bowl with the upset, showed why they’re third nationally in passing offense.
Quarterback Brandon Doughty threw from start to finish, 30 times in the first half and ultimately 61, completing 37 for 325 yards and three touchdowns, taxing the Tigers secondary more than any other time this season.
The ’Toppers tried tricks: a double, or maybe triple reverse for 17 yards and might have gone for a touchdown had not receiver Taywan Taylor tripped in a puddle at midfield.
They also pulled off a successful onside kick early in the fourth quarter long after the Tigers should have put it away.
In fact, midway through the third quarter, the visitors trailed only 20-13 and were getting the ball.
But Jamal Adams forced a fumble on the kickoff that was recovered by the Tigers’ Nick Brossette at the 24.
And that pretty much was it.
Offensively, it was do-no-harm night for Leonard Fournette’s Heisman hopes.
No. 7 carried 26 times for 150 yards (a 5.8 average that was less than the 8.0 he had coming in) with a third-quarter touchdown.
Not spectacular. But for those of you who perhaps weren’t switching channels, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook had 82 yards on 17 carries and four receptions for 50 yards with one touchdown against Georgia Tech in a game the Seminoles lost on a returned blocked field-goal attempt as time expired.
And just when you thought you’d seen everything.
That doesn’t eliminate Cook. He’s still got the Clemson game coming up to make a strong impression.
But that the same night, LSU plays Alabama. And in reality the “winner” between Fournette and the Tide’s Derrick Henry is going to be the man to beat.
Who knows, though?
By then, the long ball arm of Brandon Harris may be the Tigers’ best offensive weapon. Or at least a formidable one.
The once-much-maligned Harris had completions of 67, 61 and 55 yards to Travin Dural, Tyron Johnson and Malachi Dupre.
It’s about time those four-and-five-star receivers started being put to good use.
As usual, there were some offensive curiosities.
In the second quarter, facing fourth-and-1 at its 35, LSU could have gone to the baddest running back in college football to pick up the first. Instead, the Tigers somehow drew a delay of game flag, and Jamie Keenhn’s short punt was returned to the Western Kentucky 38, giving the Hilltoppers a good starting point for a tying touchdown drive.
And did Fournette really need to carry on seven of the Tigers’ first eight plays? When you’ve got the depth at running back LSU possesses, it might be good not to overwork your warhorse with the imposing quartet of SEC West opponents ahead.
Three of the four are probably going to be ranked by then, including Ole Miss, which kept itself in championship contention with a 23-3 victory against Texas A&M.
That game is Nov. 21, which is also the date all of the races that weren’t settled on Saturday will be.
Given the history of the Tigers and the Rebels, you know you don’t want to miss that.
So do you civic duty and vote early.
And this being Louisiana, often as well.