After losing three of his last five games to end 2015, LSU football coach Les Miles was sitting on the hot seat. Following a 16-14 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers to open the 2016 season, it doesn’t look like Miles’ job is any more secure.
The unranked Badgers used a stout defense to shut down the No. 5 ranked Tigers and grab a close win at Lambeau Field. LSU only mustered 257 yards of total offense, while star running back Leonard Fournette (23 caries, 138 rushing yards) couldn’t carry his team to victory.
The Tigers had a chance to win the game since they were driving in the final minute. But Wisconsin’s D’Cota Dixon made a game-sealing interception, allowing the Badgers to run out the clock and preserve their 16-14 victory.
Miles’ team didn’t come to play in the first half since they were thoroughly dominated and failed to put points on the board. Wisconsin was up 6-0 going into the locker room, but it could’ve been worse had quarterback Bart Houston not been picked off in the red zone.
The Badgers went up 13-0 early in the third quarter, before it finally looked like LSU might turn the tide and win as expected. First, Tre’Davious White intercepted Houston and scored a 21-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 13-7. Shortly after, Tigers QB Brandon Harris gave his team the lead by finding Travin Durant for a 10-yard TD.
But Houston led a nice drive down the field that set Badgers kicker Rafael Gaglianone up for what proved to be the game-winning field goal.
For Wisconsin, this is a huge victory in the first college game played at Lambeau Field in 30 years. For LSU, this loss could potentially derail championship expectations for a talented team.
Conference rival Alabama is ranked No. 1 overall in the AP Top 25 poll, but the Tigers aren’t much further behind them (for now) and are expected to make this a two-team race for the SEC title.
LSU still has a chance at the SEC crown and a playoff berth, but one conference loss could diminish these dreams as they’re sure to tumble down the standings.
As for Miles, he made need an SEC title and/or BCS Playoff berth to keep his job. The 62-year-old dealt with weeks of speculation that he could be fired after a third straight loss last season.
Despite all of the rumors following ugly losses to Alabama (30-16), Arkansas (31-14), and Ole Miss (38-17), Miles was still coaching the team by the season finale. The Tigers beat the Texas A&M Aggies 19-7 and won their bowl game over Texas Tech 56-27.
The team reached its peak under Miles in 2007, when they won both the SEC title and BCS National Championship. They had another excellent season in 2011, winning the SEC before losing 21-0 to Alabama in the National Championship.
Since that time, the Tigers have dealt with mediocrity as far as their expectations go. In fact, the 2014 and ’15 seasons, where LSU went 8-5 and 9-3 respectively, could be considered disasters for a team that consistently has championship expectations.
There’s a lot of time left in the season. But one more loss could mean that Miles’ time in Baton Rouge has run out.