The LSU football team has to make a decision — one that will determine its fate for the rest of the season.
It can either let the loss to Alabama linger as it did for nearly 10 months after the catastrophe in New Orleans last January, or it can build on the positives from last weekend’s game against the Crimson Tide.
It seems like an easy decision, but nothing is ever as easy as it looks.
Any sulking left from last week’s gut-wrenching game could cost LSU, just like it has in the past.
As much as no player or coach will ever admit it, one of the reasons the Tigers got off to such a slow start this season was likely the lingering embarrassment from January’s BCS National Championship Game loss.
But that embarrassment was wiped away just five plays into Saturday’s game, when LSU junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed a pass to junior wide receiver Kadron Boone at the Alabama 47-yard line. With that pass, the Tigers did in just a couple of minutes what they only accomplished once in last season’s title game — cross the 50-yard line.
Once that was done, they continued to erase any leftover signs of failure from their last bout with ’Bama, playing their best game of the season.
As nice as that was, it took 10 months to right what went wrong Jan. 9. LSU can’t afford to take that long to recover again — this time, it has to happen in seven days.
LSU is likely out of contention for a BCS bowl game. By a stroke of extreme luck, a two-loss LSU team could end up in the Sugar Bowl, but the dominos of Georgia, Florida and a multitude of no-loss and one-loss teams would have to fall before LSU would find itself in one.
If the Tigers can’t find a way to build off of last Saturday’s performance rather than let it bog them down, there will be no shot at a BCS bowl game. At the very least, the game against Mississippi State puts the possibility of a Cotton Bowl appearance on the line.
Though the No. 22 Bulldogs’ ranking doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of No. 9 LSU, the Tigers must keep their focus on the task at hand.
After consecutive losses to No. 1 Alabama and No. 16 Texas A&M, “overrated” calls have been raining on Mississippi State. The Bulldogs will enter Tiger Stadium hungry for a victory.
LSU coach Les Miles said he allows his players 24 hours to look over tape and discuss a loss, but after that, it’s on to the next opponent.
That’s why it will be necessary for the Tigers to come out fired up rather than flat. Look for Miles, an unflinching optimist, and the squad to come to play this weekend.