Questions on offense, a young defense, turnovers in the first half, a fake punt, a thrilling come-from-behind win; LSU fans are all used to this narrative. And it was the same script Saturday night here in NRG Stadium.
“We’re a blue-collar team that can fight like hell,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “And we’re scrappy. This was one of those times.”
Part one of LSU’s storybook 28-24 win against Wisconsin began with struggle. Underwhelming run defense put the Tigers in a 24-7 hole early in the second half.
“The opening drive they came down and scored,” Miles said. “And I said, ‘Oh, I did a hell of a job at halftime.’ I think the point was made that, ‘It’s time.’”
Junior cornerback Jalen Mills and the defense answered.
“Everybody got with it,” said junior linebacker Kwon Alexander. “Everybody played every play like it was their last in the second half. If we usually do that, we’re going to be a great defense.”
“Told each other it’s us eleven,” Mills said. “Whether it’s special teams, defense or offense, whoever’s on the field has to make a play for the team.”
Mills’ interception in the fourth quarter was the climax of LSU’s performance Saturday night.
Looking to redeem his summer suspension from the team, just looking to strap on an LSU helmet again, it was Mills who led the Tiger ambush on Saturday.
“Him being separated from the team and us not communicating with him, really affected him,” Miles said.
“Me just being out the whole time, it just made me more hungry,” Mills said. “It built a fire in me and I came out and played for my defense.”
As so often seen in the epic that is LSU football, the defense inspired a streak of 21 unanswered Tiger points.
“We have a saying: ‘Fourth quarter is our quarter,’” Mills said. “Regardless of the score, regardless who we’re playing, until the clock says zero we’re always going to fight our heart out. We’re going to play like Tigers.”
A seesaw of emotions and inexplicable victories are typical to LSU football tales.
What will this close win mean for LSU toward the end of the season? Well, that part of the story has yet to be written.