Miracle Miles Goes On and On for LSU
And the luckiest.
In fact the old cliche, fortune favors the bold, has never had a finer example than Leslie Miles.
As LSU-Florida looms and the Tim Tebow health watch drives ESPN to fits of reportorial glee, one man remains unconcerned with Tebow's health. That's Les Miles. Why? Because Les, the man Forrest Gump would have grown up to become if he'd been born in Michigan instead of Alabama, isn't impacted by the maelstroms that swirl around him. The world of Les Miles is always uncomplicated. He and his damn fine football team are going to win no matter who they play and what the circumstances are.
Doubt me? As the latest big game looms, let's take a look at Les Miles's top 10 ridiculous and improbable wins at LSU:
10. LSU 35, Arizona State 31, 2005
In the debut of the Les Miles era, the Tigers trail 17-7 as the fourth quarter begins. Enter Miles' magic hat. First, LSU blocks two punts and returns both for touchdowns. Suddenly the Tigers lead 21-17.
In a wild fourth quarter, Arizona State storms back to take a 31-28 lead. Facing a 4th down from the ASU 39, Miles does what any coach would do, goes for the touchdown. JaMarcus Russell hums a 39 -yard strike to Early Doucet and the Tigers win 35-31.
9. LSU 26, Auburn 21, 2008
With 1:08 left on the clock Jarrett Lee hits Brandon LaFell for a 19-yard score. By the end of the 2008 season, this pass will seem even more remarkable.
Yep, Lee won a game with a touchdown pass. And that's not a touchdown for the defense returning his pass.
Down 20-6 with nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter, LSU stages a remarkable comeback against Ed Orgeron's 3-7 Ole Miss Rebels. It begins with this double spin completion from JaMarcus Russell.
Honestly, the marriage of Les Miles to JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Perrilloux is among the greatest sports marriages of all time. At least when it comes to comedy. Supreme talent meets supreme confidence. It was like Beethoven with Donald Trump as a publicist. Well, at least in the case of Perrilloux what Beethoven would have been if he'd had riverboat gambling to contend with.
With 14 seconds left JaMarcus Russell hits Dwayne Bowe on a five-yard touchdown pass. The game is now tied 20-20. Proving that nothing comes easy in the Les Miles era, Ole Miss blocks the extra point to send the game into overtime.
LSU kicks a field goal to win 23-20.
7. LSU 30, Mississippi State 26, 2009
Mississippi State faces a third down and less than a football length for the go-ahead score. Already State is coming off four turnovers. But all they need is a few inches for the win. On third down State's Tyson Lee attempts a pass. His receiver is wide open, but LSU's safety bats the ball down in a wild and frenzied blitz.
On 4th down, LSU stuffs Lee on the quarterback sneak. For an inexplicable reason, Lee allows his head to cross the goal line without extending the football.
Everyone who watches LSU games knows the reason is because Lee ran into the forcefield that is Les Miles's good fortune.
6. LSU 28, Tennessee 24, 2006
As you can see from the interview, Miles is unhappy to be down 10-7 at the half. But in typical Miles fashion, the Mad Hatter is unbowed by current defeat.
JaMarcus Russell and LSU convert a fourth-and-eight on the final drive. Before that play, Russell fumbles the ball, but the referee rules that his forward progress had been stopped.
With nine seconds left, Russell hums a strike across the middle of the end zone. It's caught by Early Doucet, a receiver different than the one he was throwing to.
No one is surprised.
5. LSU 20, Georgia 13, 2009
If I'd told you last week that one coach in the SEC is going to win a game by scoring a 33-yard rushing touchdown with under a minute to play and then asked any SEC fan to guess who, 100 percent would have said Les Miles.
And we all would have been correct.
4. LSU 21, Tennessee 14, 2007 SEC Championship Game
Everything about this game was improbable, from Kirk Herbstreit reporting that Les Miles was set to leave for Michigan to the fact that Ryan Perrilloux was starting at quarterback for LSU.
With eight minutes to play, Tennessee nursed a 14-13 lead and faced a fourth down. LSU picked off the pass and returned it for a score. They they converted a two-point conversion to go up 21-14.
Amazingly, despite losing the week before, every other team crumbled around LSU and the Tigers advanced to the BCS title game to take on Ohio State.
Where was the game?
The Superdome in New Orleans.
Of course it was.
3. LSU 41, Alabama 34, 2007
Facing a fourth-and-four at the Alabama 32 with just under three minutes remaining and his team down seven, Matt Flynn drops back to pass with the game on the line. He finds Early Doucet open on a crossing pattern. Doucet slips the first tackle, gains the first down, and races 32 yards for the score. Tie ballgame with 2:49 remaining.
But that's not even the most remarkable part of the game. On the ensuing series, LSU blitzes and causes John Parker Wilson to fumble. LSU recovers at the Alabama 4. Two plays later, Jacob Hester crosses the goal line.
Yep, LSU wins 41-34 by scoring two touchdowns in less than three minutes.
2. LSU 28, Florida 24, 2007
Miles goes for it on fourth down five times. Every single one is successful, including two for touchdowns. In fact, LSU scores four touchdowns on the night. Every single touchdown includes a fourth-down conversion.
Stop just one of them and Florida wins.
Asked to explain what coaching against Miles on these plays was like, Urban Meyer grimaced. "Very frustrating," he said, "very frustrating."
1. LSU 30, Auburn 24, 2007
This play, more than any other, is the one that has defined Les Miles. Eschewing a timeout, Matt Flynn took the snap with the clock running and eight seconds remaining. He heaved a pass into the end zone and LSU scored with one second left. Had Demetrius Byrd bobbled the pass, LSU might have run out of time. They only needed a field goal to tie. Later, Miles brushes off criticism of the play call, saying the team had plenty of time left.
Come Saturday, odds are, we're talking about a new miracle. In fact, perhaps it's even worth coining a term. Meet the Milesacle.