OXFORD, Miss. — Well, so much for the fear of any Bama Hangover for LSU Saturday at Ole Miss.

No problem there. The Tigers picked up right where they left off with the Tide last week.

No headache, no bleary eyes, LSU just came out hyped and ready to crank it up and go again.

But the Tigers did get the first really sobering moment of a magical season.

It was the first time another one of those video-game scoreboards really gave you pause.

Maybe it will be a wake-up call for the No. 1 team in the country.

LSU puts up 714 yards of offense, the second-most in school history, and that's now what everybody is talking about afterwards.

Never mind the 58-37 victory.

Perhaps the Tigers thought Ole Miss would raise the white flag after LSU scorched its way to a 31-7 halftime lead.

Instead, a three-touchdown victory did nothing if not raise some red flags on the Tigers' unbeaten season.

It didn't have any effect on the No. 1 rankings in the polls, and the College Football Playoff committee will likely keep them No. 1 this week as well.

Apparently the fine print slipped under the radar.

Listening to national radio shows while leaving Oxford late Saturday night, the game was just mentioned in passing, as in "No. 1 LSU and Joe Burrow kept rolling as ..."

True.

But at some point, no matter how much fun this LSU offense is, the Tigers are going to have to play some legitimate defense. If not right now, then surely if they have any aspirations of doing anything special in postseason.

I could tell you all about how each football game tends to take on a life of its own, sometimes you just accept the tone of the game and roll with the flow. The new LSU is quite capable of thriving in offensive shoot-outs.

But Saturday night wasn't football, it was chaos on turf.

When a one-dimensional Ole Miss offense puts 614 yards on you — 405 in the second half alone — and when the Rebels have seven plays of 29 yards or more, it's time for some soul-searching.

Forget that Ole Miss never quite made it a one-score game in the second half.

LSU seemed to stay more in control of the game during Alabama's second-half uprising than against the Rebels.

Maybe it was rock bottom — LSU better hope so — but it wasn't an isolated incident.

It kind of got lost in this offensive ecstasy and the national attention, but there had been warning signs leading up to all this Rebel rousing.

When LSU gave up 530 yards at Texas, it was easy for it to get lost in the oddity of watching the Tigers put that new-fangled offense through its paces in a pressure-cooker situation. Gosh, wasn't that fun — and so, so different. The feeling was that it's LSU, that the Tigers will get the defense figured out.

Just give them a game or two.

Vanderbilt's 38 points raised a few curious eye brows, but the game was long out of hand and, besides, screwy things happen at Vandy. And there were two defensive touchdowns, with only 24 points at the defense's feet.

Alabama's 544 yards was ... well, it was Alabama, which is as explosive LSU and, well, it's Alabama. The game as advertised. Just win, baby. Don't overanalyze it or, who knows, the SEC might overturn it.

Then Ole Miss comes up with seven plays of 29 yards or longer.

Maybe LSU has been in denial.

But 402 yards rushing by Ole Miss will shock back into reality.

These up-tempo, spread offenses do come with a user's warning label: "CAUTION: Tends to dilute even once-proud defenses."

Maybe it was naive of LSU to think it was immune, that the plug-and-play offense would just fit right in with LSU's traditional defense

But this is getting a little over-the-top.

It's baffling, really.

This LSU defense has the usual array of NFL-in-waiting components, probably a couple or three future first-rounders. Talent obviously isn't the problem. And it's orchestrated by the highest-paid assistant coach in college football with coordinator Dave Aranda.

But this doesn't look like a $2.5 million defense right now.

Orgeron was aghast following the Vanderbilt game at the poor tackling. LSU seemed to get that cleaned up.

That wasn't the big problem at Ole Miss ­— on most of the Rebels' big plays, LSU's defenders couldn't get close enough to miss a tackle on anything but air.

It didn't look overly complicated what the Rebels were doing, but LSU looked lost on defense.

They better find themselves.

LSU is rightfully No. 1 in the country, with all those top ten wins. But you can't live on your resumé forever.

Bottom line: Not to put a damper on things, but 9-0 felt a lot better for the Tigers than 10-0.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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