ATLANTA -- A groggy LSU football team departed for Baton Rouge here on Saturday morning just several hours after the 10th-ranked Tigers put together one of the most convincing victories in school history with a 40-3 pasting of ninth-ranked Miami in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
The win gave the Tigers an 11-2 overall mark, which ties as the second-highest total for victories in a single season. In addition, LSU is all but guaranteed to finish ranked among the top 10 in the nation. The Tigers also tied a tied a school-record with five wins over ranked opponents during the 2005 season.
After enduring 11 straight weeks of play due to a pair of hurricanes that ravished the state of Louisiana, the Tigers still managed to tie a school record with seven conference victories on their way to winning the Southeastern Conference Western Division and reaching the league's title game for just the third time.
Despite all that it accomplished during the 2005 season, many felt that the Tigers hadn't played that complete game. That was until Friday night when the Tigers clicked on all cylinders in the 37-point victory over the Hurricanes, a team who is just five years removed from a national title.
"As a coach, you want your team to play their best game last," LSU coach Les Miles said on Saturday morning before the Tigers departed for Baton Rouge. "And, you certainly want to win your last game. I thought we put together a complete game in all three phases against Miami. I'm very proud of what this team was able to accomplish this year and to play that way against a very good Miami team, I'm glad we were able to send the senior class off with a victory."
Offensively, the Tigers racked up 40 points and 468 yards against a Miami team who was only allowing 11 points and just 252 yards per game. LSU rolled up 301 yards during the first 30 minutes of the contest as the Tigers, behind first-time starter at quarterback in Matt Flynn, built a 20-3 lead.
"Going up 20-3 at halftime, I really felt that gave the game a different feel," Miles said. "To get that last touchdown just before halftime, I thought that really changed the feel of the game and it obviously gave us a great deal of momentum and confidence going into the locker room."
Miles said the key for the Tigers, especially early in the game, was the play of the offensive line and having a healthy Joseph Addai back in the lineup.
"I think the offensive line really wanted to come out and play well," Miles said. "They knew that they were going to have to help Matt and that they had to play well in order to take some pressure off of him and they did just that.
"When you put a healthy Will Arnold and Joe Addai back in the lineup, those two guys are difference makers and they both played very well."
Addai finished with 130 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries for the Tigers. Addai also added two catches for five yards, including a 4-yard score just before halftime to put the Tigers up 20-3 at intermission.
The second half was a total domination for the Tigers, as the LSU defense held the Hurricanes to just three yards of total offense and no first downs. For the game, LSU held Miami to only six first downs and just 153 yards of offense.
For the game, Flynn finished 13 of 22 for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 51-yarder to Craig Davis that gave the Tigers a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter. Flynn, who was named the offensive MVP for the game, also ran for 39 yards on five carries.
"This team enjoyed the thought of going out and competing against a very good Miami team with a chance to win that 11th game," Miles said of his team's thought process going into the bowl contest. "This senior class wanted to add a big-time win over a traditional powerhouse in a first class bowl game to their list of achievements during their career and they did just that."