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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Crazy play calls have Miles, LSU fighting for BCS glory


BATON ROUGE, La. -- You can't fix crazy. Flat-out bat spit loony is even tougher.

Nor do they want to right now at LSU.

All that stuff you've heard about Les Miles? Toss it in the garbage. For now. Or join us outside the LSU locker room after the Tigers' national-landscape-changing 24-21 victory against Alabama.

"We're tired," LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard said in front of teammates, media, recruits, God and country, "of all the bull---- they talk about you."

With that, Sheppard awarded a game ball to the coach with a hat two sizes too small and a set bigger than Tiger Stadium. Call them Lesticles.

"I am humbled," Miles said as if he were on stage at the Academy Awards.

Les Miles has LSU in the hunt for another national title. (Getty Images)  
Les Miles has LSU in the hunt for another national title. (Getty Images)  
He's on a stage all right. A national stage, the kind that vaulted LSU improbably to the national championship three years ago. Once again, we're all mere passengers on a purple and gold crazy train after some of the biggest (and successful) gambles of Crazy Les' career at LSU.

The fake punt in the third quarter? An appetizer.

The jet sweep to Russell Shepard that led to a field goal? A prelude.

Miles always seems to save his best (or sometimes worst) for last. This time it was a toss reverse to tight end Dangelo Peterson with 9:51 left in the game. It went for 23 yards to the Alabama 3 to set up the go-ahead touchdown and had everyone from the top row to the press box elbowing each other:

I can't believe he did it again.

Miles did and the trick play worked so spectacularly that Alabama never recovered. Before the play, a fourth-and-1 at the Bama 26, the crowd groaned when Miles called his second timeout. Suddenly, he had only one to massage the final few minutes. And against that defense? Best to try to get the yard, get the first down and move on. Instead, Miles called the gadget play during the timeout. Then after the touchdown for all the world to see, he bent down, picked some grass and stuck it in his mouth like it was a piece of chewing tobacco.

Crazy Les' latest bit of nuttiness was on YouTube before the final gun sounded.

"I have a little tradition that humbles me as a man, that lets me know I'm part of the field," Miles said. "It's going to be all over the Internet. You know what? You should have seen some games before this."

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That was a reference to the Bad Les who seems to triumph despite himself. This was Good Les, the coach who seems to have sold his soul for eternal luck. Or eats turf for fortification.

"I know one thing," Miles added, "the grass in Tiger Stadium tastes best."

Miles and his staff had to try something different. To call LSU an offensively challenged squad is an understatement. Miles uses two quarterbacks (Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee) because he can't get enough out of one. The offensive line is nothing special, certainly not as good as LSU units in the past. There are too many moments like the one sophomore Rueben Randle produced late in the first half when the receiver dropped a pass right in his hands.

"He dropped the first frickin' ball thrown to him," Miles said to his team "and then he said, 'Throw it to me again.' "

That was the beauty of Saturday afternoon in Death Valley. Only vampires are affected worse than LSU during the daytime in Tiger Stadium. The Tigers are 42-4 in home night games under Miles but only 17-11 in the scourge of sunlight. Maybe that's why the P.A. announcer announced grandly, "Ladies and gentleman, it is the fourth quarter. The sun will soon find its place in the western sky. It will soon by Saturday night in Death Valley."

It was getting that way when The Hat pulled another one out of his lid. On third-and-13 from his own 20, Miles (or offensive coordinator Gray Crowton or Bugs Bunny for all we know) called a deep sideline pass to Rueben 'Frickin' Randle. This time Randle latched onto it for 47 yards (after a 75-yard catch and run earlier). That kept alive a drive that denied Alabama the ball until there were 18 seconds left.

Soon after, the king was dead, long live the Krazy King.

"Sometimes I am [surprised]," Randle said of his coach, "but you gotta have faith in him."

The BCS unthinkable is now possible. LSU could be an Auburn loss away from possibly playing for the BCS title without even winning the toughest division in football. It works this way: LSU's only loss is to Auburn. If LSU wins out and Auburn loses in the regular season, LSU would lose a tiebreaker to Auburn in the SEC West. If Auburn loses in the SEC title game, even better.

The pollsters and computers could treat LSU like they did Nebraska in 2001. That year, Nebraska lost by 26 in its final regular-season game at Colorado, didn't have to play the Big 12 championship game, and still played Miami in the Rose Bowl for the title.

While Saturday marked the end of Alabama's national-championship run, it was the beginning of hope -- real hope -- for the non-AQs. There are only four unbeatens left. Boise and TCU make up half that total. All they need is a loss by either Auburn or Oregon to be in a fight to the death with possibly LSU for a championship spot at the end. Don't doubt it. Computers love teams that get hot at the end. The Tigers more than qualify.

Crazier things have happened. Just ask The Big Guy.

"We come to you," said a kneeling Miles as he started the postgame prayer, "with prayers answered."

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.

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