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The Most Influential Man in College Football Nobody Knows About was in Death Valley Saturday Night

Ausberry put together a genius schedule for LSU in 2011.
Photo via Tiger Rag
LSU's MVP Saturday night didn't play a down of football in Tiger Stadium.

Well, he used to play many downs in Tiger Stadium. But he didn't need to throw his pads back on for this game for his presence to be felt this year in college football. Arguably he could be the most influential figure this year for LSU.  

It's Associate Athletics Director Verge Ausberry

Ausberry is in charge of scheduling games for LSU. This year's schedule has been treacherous for the Tigers. But with an unblemished record through 11 games, LSU's has earned them the first consensus AP No. 1 ranking by any team since 2008.  

Saturday night couldn't have gone any better for Ausberry. 

LSU manhandled Western Kentucky 42-9. But it was a game played in California that gave Ausberry vindication of his tough pickings of teams to play this year.

Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinals were beat by a faster Oregon Ducks team 53-30 in Palo Alto. The Ducks have been spectacular since their opening game loss to a team that could match them stride for stride.

That team being LSU.

"I told Les before the year if we win that game, we could eventually be No. 1," said Ausberry. "I knew our guys could match their (Oregon) speed."

LSU not only beat Oregon, they dominated them in the second half. The win in front of a national primetime audience on ABC gave the Tigers a jolt to begin the year. Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated pointed out earlier this year LSU was whipped into shape for the entire season because of their preparation for the Ducks high speed attack.  

Photo via US Vise
Oregon has been spectacular since that game. The Ducks have as much speed on offense as any team in the country. They have beaten all of their opponents by at least 14 points. They look like the 2008 Florida Gators. 

Oregon was ranked No. 3 to being the year. LSU was No. 4. If the Ducks don't play LSU in the season opener, there is a strong chance they would be sitting at No. 1 right now. 

Ausberry told me after LSU's victory versus Mississippi State how he planned out the schedule. He loved the way LSU matched up with Oregon and Miles' ridiculous record with more than one week to prepare. 

He saw Mississippi State as a tough road opponent but liked how it was a Thursday night game, guaranteeing it being nationally televised.  The early kickoff allowed LSU more rest in order to prepare for a long road trip versus ranked West Virginia. When he scheduled WVU, there was a coaching change taking place and that Dana Holgorsen ran a somewhat similar spread attack to Oregon.  Plus that game was on national television. 

Ausberry also set the "Bye Week" before the Alabama game; a physical road game LSU needed to be healthy. The last time Tigers traveled to Tuscaloosa, The Crimson Tide came off a bye. Former LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard told me he felt that played into the outcome of the game. The Tigers narrowly lost 24-15. Their 9-6 triumph this year could have been swayed in their favor because of their fresh legs. 

More than likely LSU would control their own destiny for a BCS National Championship birth even if they didn't play Oregon. If the Ducks were No.1 right now, LSU would be No. 2. But the tough schedule opened up many avenues for the Tigers if they were to lose to Alabama.

"If LSU loses (to Alabama), I would feel more comfortable with them playing in the national championship because of their body of work," said ESPN Analyst David Pollack in Tuscaloosa before "The Game of the Century."

Clay Travis of "Outkick the Coverage" says that if LSU splits with Arkansas and the SEC East Champion in the SEC Championship Game, there is a strong possibility LSU will still get to play for all of the marbles. Part of the reason is because of the tough schedule laid out by Ausberry.

It was a bold move by Ausberry to put together a schedule such as this one. College football wizard Jay Christensen pointed out LSU has the best combined opponents record in the Top 5 of 59-41.  

But Les Miles' team shouldn't even be the proudest of the tough schedule. It's a team that used to be coached my Miles that should be jumping for joy right now...

Oklahoma State. 


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