Les Miles beat back against the current but couldn’t stay afloat in the stormy seas. When Ed Orgeron assumed control of LSU, he was seen as a stopgap, a temporary fix to a lingering problem. The Tigers’ days of competing for national championships had grown small in the rearview window. They’d become consistently inconsistent.
Coach O has done enough to shed the interim label. He’s gone 17-6 and 10-4 in conference. He’s come up big when his back has been against the wall. If Tiger Blood were still a thing, we might say he has it. His team faces a tall task tomorrow against Auburn on the Plains. Ten-point underdogs don’t typically feel optimistic. But this year could be different than the several preceding for LSU, especially if Orgeron can pull the upset.
The three remaining ranked teams (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State) must come to Baton Rouge. A trip to Florida suddenly looks less daunting. It’s not inconceivable to think the Tigers could make the College Football Playoff with either two losses or without a conference title — should they win two out of three against Alabama, Georgia, and Auburn.
Perhaps that’s totally premature, but few teams have the opportunity to rack up such high-caliber wins. And LSU already has a decent one against Miami in the season opener. Transfer quartetback Joe Burrow is competent. The defense is fast, strong, and opportunistic.
In short, there is hope, which is something in short supply during the Final Days of Miles. There will be hope even if Auburn wins a close one in which the road team appears live and hungry.
Orgeron and LSU have the chance to make a statement. A loud one could define the coach’s tenure and shore it up on a sturdy foundation. It’s a chance to break the cycle of late-season intrigue and hot-seat speculation, an unhealthy cycle that can be tough to escape.
When that door opens, it’s best to break through.