A lot has changed for LSU in the past month, only for the Tigers to find themselves in almost the same spot. Following their 10-7 upset of Mississippi on Saturday, they made easily the biggest jump in this week’s The Associated Press Top 25 by moving up eight spots. Only two ranked teams lost on the weekend, making for a poll that looks similar to the previous ranking. But the big win for LSU impressed voters enough to have them elevate the Tigers up to No. 16, a slot behind where they were four weeks ago as No. 15.The following week, though, LSU dropped out of the poll altogether for the first time since 2008. Questions surrounded Les Miles’ program after a 41-7 loss at Auburn, which had been preceded two weeks before by a loss to then-unranked Mississippi State that wasn’t as close as the 34-29 score would make it seem.
The Tigers have bounced back well, only spending two weeks with the unfamiliar feeling of being outside of the Top 25. Their recent run included a close 30-27 call at Florida and a big 41-3 statement against Kentucky at home, with the win against Ole Miss this weekend serving as the exclamation point on the three-week stretch.
It was LSU’s defense that stood tall on Saturday, holding previously unbeaten and third-ranked Ole Miss to seven points. With the loss, the Rebels dropped to No. 7, being hopped by Alabama, Auburn, Oregon and Notre Dame. LSU is the only team in the past 20 years to beat a top-three team while scoring 10 points or fewer, and it has accomplished the feat twice -- against Ole Miss on Saturday, and a 9-6 win against Alabama in 2011.
Offensively for LSU, it was a struggle against the top defense in the country in terms of points against, but the Tigers came through when necessary. They drove 90 yards near the end of the second quarter for a field goal, then capped off a 95-yard drive with the game-winning touchdown with five minutes remaining in the game. Ole Miss got its touchdown in the first quarter, but was unable to truly threaten the end zone after that. In the past two games, the Tiger defense has allowed a total of 10 points on 530 yards.
It was the 24th fourth-quarter comeback for the Tigers under Les Miles, making them the only FBS squad to have an above-.500 record when trailing after three quarters since 2005. Four of quarterback Anthony Jennings’ eight wins as a starter have been fourth-quarter comebacks. Jennings was 8 of 16 for 142 yards and a touchdown on Saturday. Freshman running back Leonard Fournette surpassed 100 yards for the third time in his past five games, totaling 113 yards on 23 carries.
The Tigers now have an off week, but No. 3 Alabama waits on the other side of the break. They will then finish the season with matchups against Arkansas and Texas A&M. In what could have turned into a disastrous season for the Tigers, having reached a point that hadn’t been experienced in Baton Rouge in six years, they have shown resiliency, and an ability to continue their climb back up the rankings.
Notes from the rest of the Top 25:
Duke was the only previously unranked team to join the poll, coming in at No. 24. ... No other team moved up more than two spots. ... Nos. 1 and 2, Mississippi State and Florida State, are the only unbeaten teams from a Power Five conference remaining. ... Four games in the upcoming week will include two ranked teams: No. 10 TCU at No. 20 West Virginia, No. 4 Auburn at No. 7 Ole Miss, No. 14 Arizona at No. 25 UCLA, No. 18 Utah at No. 15 Arizona State.