The biggest change for LSU in the Ed Orgeron era is supposed to take place against Alabama, and one day it may. But for the moment, the biggest change Orgeron is offering from the end of Les Miles’ tenure is what happens to the Tigers after playing the Crimson Tide.
In Miles’ last two seasons, the Tigers were so disheartened by their defeat to Alabama that they went out and lost again to Arkansas the following week. Orgeron changed that pattern a year ago as interim coach. LSU ran away from the Razorbacks in a 38-10 win at Arkansas.
This year, he intends to keep the pattern going.
“We have to rely on last year. It was the same thing,” Orgeron said. “[Alabama] beat us 10-0 and we had to go play Arkansas on the road. We had to dig deep. 24-hour rule. I think we did that this week, but you never can tell ’til Saturday.”
Orgeron has tried to tweak one bit of psychology about LSU’s rivalry with Alabama. While it may be the biggest game of the year for the Tigers, he has attempted to convey to his team that it’s not the measure of whether or not their season should be considered a success.
“A one-day-at-a-time [mentality] is taking over,” Orgeron said. “Alabama is a very big game but we didn’t make it the only game. If you put too many high expectations on it, there’s a letdown. In the past, it means the season is over. That’s not necessarily so.”
There is still a faint possibility of LSU reaching a New Year’s 6 bowl game. That path would require Alabama and Georgia to both make the playoff while LSU jumps Auburn and Mississippi State in the CFP rankings.
More realistically, the Tigers are on the path to a less prominent but still significant bowl game against an ACC or Big Ten opponent like the Outback or TaxSlayer. There’s also a chance to win 10 games for the first time since 2013.
But to get there, the Tigers must first beat the lowly Razorbacks. Arkansas (4-5, 1-4 SEC) comes in needed a strong finish to the season to have a shot at making a bowl and potentially save coach Bret Bielema’s bacon.
Orgeron thinks the respect the Hogs have earned by beating LSU in 2014 and 2015 will help LSU’s cause.
“We take it one game at a time,” Orgeron said. “And by Arkansas beating previous teams here, the older guys have a lot of respect for what they can do.”
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