LSU has done the impossible. It’s been said that Death Valley is where dreams go to die. That held true this past Saturday. The force of nature known as Johnny Football, the reigning Heisman champion, who has performed even better this season, lost what little hope he had of being the only repeat Heisman winner since Archie Griffin did it for Ohio State in 1974 and 1975.
Against the Tigers, Johnny Manziel completed a mere 39% of his passes (16 of 41) for 224 yards. It was the lowest completion percentage of his career. He had one just touchdown (his first ever against LSU) to go along with two interceptions. He added another 54 yards on the ground and was sacked twice. In the second half, the Aggies scored no points, as Manziel completed 9-18 with his two picks. Johnny Football ended with an 83.2 passer rating, the lowest of his career.
Last year against LSU, Manziel completed 51.6% (29 of 56) for 276 yards. It was the lowest completion percentage of his career at the time and is now the second lowest. He had no touchdowns to counter his three interceptions. He added only 24 yards on the ground and was sacked three times. That now ranks as his second lowest rushing total in games that he’s started. Johnny Football ended with an 83.3 passer rating. It was the lowest passer rating of his career until Saturday.
Johnny Manziel’s third lowest completion percentage? 60% against Louisiana Tech in 2012 (24 of 40) His third lowest passer rating? 124.4 against Ole Miss in 2012.
This season? Besides LSU, Manziel’s lowest completion percentage was 66.7% against SMU and UTEP; and his lowest passer rating was 148.9 against Ole Miss.
Texas A&M scored just 10 points – all in the second quarter – and gained only 299 yards; both were the lowest totals by the Aggies since Coach Kevin Sumlin took over in 2012.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis and the Bayou Bengals defense knows the trick to stopping Manziel. If Manziel declares for the NFL draft, LSU will be the only team to have beaten him twice. Against Alabama, one of the top defenses in college football the past two seasons, Manziel was 52 of 70 (74.3%) for 717 passing yards, 190 rushing yards, 7 touchdowns, and only 2 interceptions. Against LSU, Manziel has been a combined 45 of 94 (just 46.4%) for 500 passing yards, 81 rushing yards, only 1 touchdown, and 5 picks.
LSU’s defense may have struggled at times the last two season and especially this year, but the Tigers have turned in some of their best performances against the SEC’s best player. While Manziel has shredded opposing defenses left and right, he has run into a brick wall against the Tigers mauling defense.
We’re nearing the end of the college football season. Southeastern and Nicholls both wrapped up their regular seasons Thursday, but Southeastern will begin looking towards the FCS playoffs. A few other teams conclude their regular seasons today, and the remaining inch closer to Rivalry Week.
ULL gets a week to rest up before their annual contest against Louisiana-Monroe, the Battle on the Bayou. The Ragin’ Cajuns have reeled off 8 wins in a row after last Saturday’s victory over Georgia State. They’ve done it with a balanced offense, gaining 225 yards on the ground and 215 through the air per game.
Southern and Grambling State both get bye weeks in preparation for the Bayou Classic on November 30th. This is actually Grambling’s second straight off week. The Tigers had a rough year, winning only one game so far, but a win in the Bayou Classic would go a long way.
Southern, on the other hand, had a solid season, improving to a 7-4 record after last weekend’s shutout win over Clark Atlanta. The Jaguars boast the FCS’s 10th most prolific quarterback, Dray Joseph, who’s passed for over 3,000 yards. Southern has a spot in the SWAC championship guaranteed, but they can’t get caught peeking ahead to Jackson State.
The #10 Southeastern Lions roared over Nicholls State Thursday night, crushing the Colonels 52-27. Nicholls led at halftime, but Southeastern dominated the second half and won their 10th game of the season. The Lions are the Southland Conference champions and have a guaranteed spot in the FCS playoffs.
Nicholls hung around with Southeastern for a while, but allowed 32 3rd quarter points and couldn’t recover. The Colonels will end their season 4-8, but it’s a significant improvement over the last two years. The 4 wins is double the total of the past two seasons combined.
Northwestern State gets the day started for the Boot at 1pm with a home game against Stephen F. Austin. The Demons took a beating from McNeese last weekend, but they are 5-6 and have a shot to avoid a fifth straight losing season.
The Tulane Green Wave host the UTEP Miners in their last ever game in the Superdome. The Green Wave is coming off their bye and faces a struggling UTEP program that lost 7 of their last 8. The match-up could be a contest of strengths. The Miners are averaging 199 rushing yards a game while the Green Wave allows just 126.7. Tulane must win out to have any hope of winning the Conference USA title.
Louisiana-Monroe is also coming off their bye, and the Warhawks will pay a visit to the South Alabama Jaguars tonight at 6 o’clock. ULM sits at 5-5 and 3-2 in conference play, and the Jags are just 3-6. However, a 71st ranked Warhawks passing defense can’t take it easy against the nation’s 35th best passing attack.
The Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at 6pm. Tulsa is 2-8 overall and has just 1 conference win. The Bulldogs were walloped by Rice last weekend and need to beat Tulsa and then UTSA the following week to reach bowl 6-6 and have a shot at a bowl game.
The McNeese State Cowboys close out the action for the Boot with a road game against the Lamar Cardinals. McNeese took down Northwestern State last week to improve to 9-2. They also moved back into the top 10 of the FCS Coaches Poll, jumping to 8th in the nation. The Cowboys high-scoring offense ranks 4th in the country, averaging an impressive 42.5 points a game. McNeese is likely to make the FCS playoffs for a Southland Conference record 15th time.
Your #22 LSU Fightin’ Tigers welcome in the 12th ranked Texas A&M Aggies into Death Valley at 2:30. LSU had a bye last week, giving them extra time to recover from a 38-17 loss to top-ranked Alabama. The Tigers don’t have much of a shot at a BCS bowl, but they still have a lot to play for. If the Bayou Bengals win out, it will be their 4th straight 10-win season, the first such stretch in LSU history. The Tigers also have a chance to be the only team to beat Johnny Manziel twice, since he’s likely to enter the NFL draft. Slowing down Johnny Football will be a tall order, however. The Aggies are churning out over 49 points per game, and Manziel has eclipsed the 400-yard mark in four different games. Despite some struggles, LSU’s pass defense still ranks 17th in the nation.
While the Saints victory over the San Francisco 49ers wasn’t as record-breaking as the Black and Gold’s performance against the Cowboys, there were still some notable stats.
The Saints now sit at 8-2 and are in sole possession of 1st place in the NFC South.
Wide receiver Marques Colston is now the Saints all-time leader in receiving yards. Colston had 5 receptions for 80 yards (16 yards per reception) and has 7,923 total receiving yards, though he broke the record with just his first reception of the day. He passed wide receiver Eric Martin’s total of 7,854.
Colston and Martin were both 7th round draft picks. Colston was taken with the 252nd overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft, and Martin was the 179th overall pick of the 1985 draft (there were 12 total rounds in the 1985 draft).
Eric Martin recorded his 7,854 receiving yards in 9 seasons with the Saints. Colston has his 7,923 yards in just over 7.5 seasons, and he doesn’t look to be slowing down.
Fullback Jed Collins got some love Sunday. Collins had three touches; and, while he didn’t rack up the yards, he certainly made them count. His first touch was a reception for 3 yards (and that drive culminated in a Saints touchdown). Collins ran the ball twice after that. His first carry was a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Black and Gold a 14-10 lead. His next carry was a 2-yard first down on 3rd and 1. Who doesn’t love seeing the fullback get the ball?
Back-up tight end Josh Hill – a rookie out of Idaho State – hauled in the third catch of his career, and it was for a touchdown. So 33% of his receptions go for touchdowns? Feed that man!
The Saints outgained the 49ers 387-196, but they only won 23-20 on a last-second field goal. 3 costly turnovers will do that. Each Saints turnover resulted in a 49ers score.
San Francisco’s two touchdown drives went for a combined 33 yards. Yes, they gained 33 total yards on those two drives and came away with 14 points. The Lance Moore fumble gave the Niners the ball on the Saints 11 yard line. Two plays later, San Francisco had scored. After the Drew Brees interception, the 49ers got the ball on the Black and Gold 22-yard line. 3 plays later, the Niners scored.
Garrett Hartley had received a lot of criticism after missing 4 of his last 6 field goals going into the game on Sunday. However, Hartley came through big for the Saints, drilling three 4th quarter field goals to score the final 9 points of the game. Hartley made field goals of 21 yards, 42 yards, and 31 yards. He’s made 76% of his attempts, including 12 of 40+ yards.
This was Hartley’s fourth game this season with 3 or more field goals. He made 3 against Atlanta, 3 (out of 4) against Tampa Bay, and 4 against Chicago. It was also Hartley’s second game-winner of the season. He made a 27-yarder as time expired to beat Tampa Bay.
Former LSU Tigers have a big impact in the NFL every week. Here is a look at how five made a difference in week #10 of the NFL season:
Glenn Dorsey: DT, San Francisco 49ers
The former 5th overall pick of the 2008 draft had a solid outing on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. In a defensive battle between the two teams, Dorsey notched 4 tackles, including 1 tackle for a loss. It was his most productive game since Week 4, and he has a total of 19 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 tackles for a loss.
The speedy, 4th year pro had another solid outing with the Broncos. He returned 4 kickoffs for 103 yards (a solid 25.75 yards per return) and added 6 yards on 2 punt returns. On the year, Holliday has 482 kick return yards and ranks 3rd in the NFL, averaging 32.1 yards per return. Holliday is also the only player so far to have returned a punt and a kick for a touchdown this season.
Tyrann Mathieu: Safety, Arizona Cardinals
The Honey Badger continues to make a strong push for Rookie of the Year honors. He had another good performance, this time against the Texans. In a narrow 27-24 victory, he racked up 7 total tackles and 1 pass deflection, giving him a total of 56 and 6 respectively. It was Mathieu's first start at safety, as he took over the #1 spot on the depth chart for free safety from Rashad Johnson, who, as many of you may remember, last part of his finger in their game against the Saints.
Rueben Randle: WR, New York Giants
Randle had a fine game against the Raiders in New York's third win of the season. He hauled in 3 catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Randle also returned all three punts for a total of 30 yards for the Giants. The touchdown marked the 5th of the year for Randle, and he's averaging 1 touchdown every 5 catches.
Kyle Williams: DT, Buffalo Bills
Williams makes another appearance here after a his showing against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He recorded 5 tackles, 1 sack (for a loss of 11 yards), 3 tackles for a loss, and a quarterback hurry. A former 5th round pick, Williams has been a force in the middle for Buffalo, racking up 45 total tackles, 5 sacks, 9 tackles for a loss, and 12 quarterback hurries.
The Saints rushed for a season-high 242 yards against the Dallas Cowboys. Mark Ingram led the way with 145 yards (on 14 carries for a great 10.4 yards per carry) and one touchdown.
It was Ingram's first career 100-yard game, and he was the first Saint to cross the 100-yard mark since Pierre Thomas ran for 110 yards on September 16th, 2012 against the Panthers (Week 2, the Saints lost that game).
The 242 rushing yards were the most by the Saints since November 4th, 1990 when they gained 249 on the ground in a 21-7 win over Cincinnati. It was the 48th game in franchise history with over 200 rushing yards and the 11th with over 240. The Saints are 10-1 when rushing for at least 240 yards. The only loss was to Miami in 1986 when they rushed for 257 yards.
The Saints set a regular season franchise record by gaining 625 total yards. The previous record was 617 in a 45-17 victory over the Panthers on January 1st, 2012. It was only the 2nd game in Saints regular season history with over 600 yards of offense. It was the most yards by any NFL team since San Diego had 661 yards on December 20th, 1982 against the Bengals. It was the 33rd NFL regular season game with one team gaining over 600 yards.
The Saints set an NFL record with 40 first downs. The Cowboys only ran 43 total plays.
The Cowboys gained just 193 yards, the fewest yards allowed by the Saints since December 24th, 2006 against the New York Giants (Saints won 30-7). It was the 56th time in regular season franchise history that the Black and Gold defense held an opponent under 200 yards.
Dallas scored 17 points. The Saints have played 5 home games thus far this season and haven't allowed more than 17 points in any of them. In 4 of the 5 games, they've allowed exactly 17. In the other game, they allowed 7 (to Arizona). The Saints are winning at home by an average score of 35.2-15.
The Saints first touchdown drive spanned 9 plays and 80 yards. Their next drive went for 15 plays and 80 yards. The 15 play drive was the longest of the season for the Saints (previous long was a 13 play drive against Chicago that resulted in a field goal). It was the Saints 19th drive of 15 plays or longer since Sean Payton came to down in 2006 and the 16th scoring drive of 15 plays or longer. The last time the Saints had a touchdown drive of 15 plays or more was against Minnesota on December 18th, 2011 (19 plays, 87 yards).
The Saints converted 9 of their 12 third downs against the Cowboys. The Cowboys were a miserable 0-9. The Saints also were 1-1 on fourth down.
The Saints turned the ball over once while failing to force any turnovers. It was the 14th time in the Payton-era that the Saints won while having a negative turnover margin.
Drew Brees was 34-41 (82.92%). In the regular season, it was the 7th time Brees completed over 82% of his passes since coming to New Orleans and the 2nd time this season (82.86% against Chicago). It was his highest completion percentage since October 23rd, 2011 against Indianapolis (a crushing 62-7 win).