Glenn Guilbeau / GANNETT LOUISIANA
HOUSTON This was not a Troy, which led No. 19 LSU 31-3 with 11:13 to play in the third quarter on a freezing night in Tiger Stadium on Nov. 15, 2008. LSU won 35-34.
This was not a Houston, which led No. 17 LSU 34-14 with 5:57 left in the third quarter on Sept. 7, 1996. LSU won 40-31.
This was No. 14 Wisconsin, which went to the Capital One Bowl last year and three straight Rose Bowls before that.
This was the Badgers, who were dominating LSU at both of lines of scrimmage through the early part of the third quarter in both teams' season openers on Saturday night at NRG Stadium.
Wisconsin led No. 13 LSU, 24-7, with the third quarter nearing the midpoint and the Tigers facing a fourth-and-four at its 43-yard line. LSU won 28-24.
What is more amazing is that even after LSU gradually got back into the game in the third quarter and took it over in the fourth, it sprinkled silly mistakes on top of those efforts throughout.
A fake punt on that fourth-and-four situation turned the game around as LSU drove to a field goal to cut it to 24-10. But a delay of game penalty just before the field goal made it five yards longer.
Down 24-13 in the fourth quarter, sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings found wide receiver Travin Dural for 27 yards to the Wisconsin 25. Then freshman tailback Leonard Fournette could not handle a good pitch from Jennings 10-yard loss. Two plays later, Jennings found redshirt freshman wide receiver John Diarse for a 36-yard touchdown. But then, Jennings couldn't get the Tigers lined up right for the two-point conversion.
'LEFT HASH,' LSU coach Les Miles yelled over and over. 'LEFT ... HASH. LEFT ... HASH.' He seemed like a Little League coach. 'RIGHT FIELD, NOT LEFT FIELD.'
After a timeout, they got it right and made it 24-21 when Jennings hit true freshman Trey Quinn for two.
With the game in hand late in the final period, LSU was trying to run out the clock with a 28-24 lead. On third and three from the Wisconsin 41, Fournette lost three yards on pitch right. Wisconsin got the ball back and had a chance to win.
'How much fun it is to have victory when making corrections,' Miles said.
Fun? If you're a daredevil. It was almost like LSU arrived for a NFL-like preseason game and realized about halfway through, it counts. It was also like watching a live bloodletting, and in the end, the patient ran out of the hospital.
In the end, LSU's talent lapped Wisconsin as it if it was Troy or Houston, but Wisconsin is better than that, which bodes well for the Tigers.
'Well, the growing pains are just very slight tremors in a very light infection when you win,' said Miles, who often wins in such fashion. You know, skip through the semester and ace the final on natural ability.
'We're better,' he said. 'We're better beyond that experience, and I think we'll do the things that we need to. I think this football team that can take this experience and realize that to do the things that we want to do, we're going to have to play better.'
As sloppily as LSU played in spots from beginning to end with great plays sprinkled throughout as well from beginning to end against a very good team, there is no telling how good LSU can be if all those 'infections' clear up.