Scooter Hobbs column: No pressure means LSU can relax

Published 9:00 am Friday, December 2, 2022

Not to go all struggling, newbie actor looking up at the director on you here, but for LSU it’s kind of like …

What’s my motivation?

This would be for the Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 1-ranked Georgia on Saturday.

Email newsletter signup

LSU has promised to show up, fully donned in pads, helmets and everything.

So far, so good, even if some are wondering, why bother?

You know the deal.

Nothing the Tigers might do to Georgia Saturday is going to get LSU into the College Football Playoff.

There are limits to the selection committee’s forgiveness.

On the other hand, no matter how badly the Tigers manhandle Georgia — remember, this is all hypothetical — it’s not going to keep the Dawgs from making the CFP. Georgia could probably still make a case as the No. 1 seed if it manages to keep the score close against a 9-3 LSU team.

It’s the Tigers’ seventh trip to Atlanta for this affair, but even before the shocking loss to Texas A&M last week they weren’t supposed to be anywhere near Atlanta this season.

Nobody saw this coming in Brian Kelly’s first year of tidying up a proud program that had slipped off the rails.

One could even say that the Tigers would have much more pressure on them Saturday if the Texas A&M trip had gone more to form and given them an outside shot of accidentally winning Saturday and having to join the playoff whether they wanted to or not.

Instead, never have the Tigers arrived in Atlanta with as much house money as they’ll be carting through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport en route to Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Remember those pictures of Houston publicity hound “Mattress Mack” pushing home a wheelbarrow full of very large bills after winning a $75 million bet on the Astros’ World Series title? Sort of the same imagery.

Nobody expects much out of the Tigers. Some seem to fear for their safety. And it’s hard to really counter that premise.

LSU has been in Georgia’s position, too. In fact, the last two times the Tigers reached this title game, 2019 and 2011, winning it was strictly optional for bigger fish en route to national championship games.

Both of those games were against Georgia — far different Georgia teams than today — and the Tigers decided to take care of business anyway, 42-10 in the first, 37-10 three years ago.

But even the 2011 game, when just two teams advanced in the old BCS system, the media and all those now-defunct computer printouts had assured them in advance that they were in no matter what.

The fine print would later reveal that Alabama would be waiting for a rematch (that did not go well), but nothing that happened in Atlanta that night would have changed that.

In fact, Georgia is in its convenient spot for a second consecutive year. The Dawgs, in fact, did lose this game to Alabama last year — and, as promised, still got in and got their rematch with the Tide to win the national championship.

It drives the anti-SEC cult crazy, but when you take care of business in this league, you often get a do-over.

Georgia probably won’t need it. The Dawgs are that good.

But LSU is probably in as good of a spot as the Tigers could hope for as — what? — a 17.5-point underdog.

We already know the Tigers aren’t good enough to be trusted as 10-point favorites — see Aggies, Texas A&M.

But LSU’s best performances all season long have come after being written off at various times.

A 31-16 win over Mississippi State was the first real game after the disatrous one-point loss in the opener with Florida State.

The Tennessee debacle was followed by a win on the road at Florida and then a validation victory over Ole Miss.

And who gave LSU a prayer to beat Alabama? Certainly not me, as I’ve been often reminded since (usually with a sneer).

Now LSU can just have fun, let it all hang out.

Who knows? Maybe the Aggies were just the wake-up call the Tigers needed. They seem to love to have something to bounce back from.

Georgia is the better team, for sure, but that’s on paper and …

Nah. Don’t even think about it.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at