GAME OF THE YEAR
LSU 24, Florida 21 -- After losing to Auburn and Georgia on the road in a three-week period, LSU traveled to Florida for another road game against a ranked team. Florida led 21-7 before LSU rallied in the second half behind senior QB Marcus Randall, who drove the Tigers for the game-winning touchdown on a 10-yard pass to RB Joseph Addai with 27 seconds left.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
DE Marcus Spears -- Spears earned consensus first-team All-SEC honors and first-team All-America honors by Walter Camp and the American Football Coaches Association. He had 8.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss, also providing leadership for a young team that lost several key players from its 2003 national championship team.
After winning the national championship in 2003, LSU knew it would be tough to repeat, especially with a schedule that included trips to Auburn, Georgia and Florida over a four-week period. A 10-9 loss at Auburn put the Tigers behind the eight-ball and a 45-16 loss at Georgia put them on the defensive, but they bounced back with a last-minute 24-21 win at Florida and went on to win six consecutive games before closing out the season with a last-second loss to Iowa in the Capital One Bowl.
The loss of head coach Nick Saban and key seniors such as defensive end Marcus Spears, linebacker Lionel Turner and cornerbacks Corey Webster and Travis Daniels and center Ben Wilkerson will be hard to replace. But the new coaching staff inherits enough talent, experience and depth to make the Tigers legitimate contenders for the SEC championship in 2005.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"Coach had his situation going on and we knew that before we left Baton Rouge. I can't sit here and honestly say it was a distraction. We practiced well, we worked hard, we did everything we usually do. Coach was there every meeting before everybody else got there and he was the last person to leave. You couldn't tell that he was going on to the new job. We really played this game for each other and the team." -- LSU defensive end Marcus Spears on coach Nick Saban, who coached his final game with the Tigers in the Capital One Bowl after decided a week earlier to become the head coach of the NFL's Miami Dolphins.
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