LSU Arkanasas Football

LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price (3) tries to get past Arkansas defender Myles Slusher (2) during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Let’s just forget about “The Boot,” OK?

It was Arkansas’ idea, you can always tell yourself, and if those good people want to find a spare closet big enough to store that trophy in, then that’s their problem.

Same for the “Magnolia Bowl,” a more recent atrocity, which can be blamed on Mississippi, at least the Ole Miss faction. Not as gawky as The Boot, but the delicate little thing looks like something you’d find in the smalls ads in the back of Southern Living, a too-new knockoff to replace one of greatgrandma’s ornate relics that no one can remember why it was special to begin with.

Anyway, by now you’ve figured out that we’re mired in that annual search to find LSU a good, natural every-year rival.

Yes, Alabama will always be LSU’s obsession, 24/7, often 365.

No way around it.

But the Tigers kind of have to wait in line with the rest of the SEC West on the Tide. Maybe Mississippi State and Ole Miss hate each other more.

LSU has to be content that, in the old normal at least, Bama always takes its open date the week prior to playing the Tigers. But Auburn will always be its most hated foe.

Which brings me to Texas A&M.

Again.

This is an important year on that front.

But — first things first — let’s don’t worry about a silly trophy on this one.

As I recall, Les Miles once suggested some sort of offshore oil rig wrench as a fitting prize when battling the Aggies. Maybe it was gold-plated, maybe rusted out, I don’t remember.

But my feeling on football rivalry trophies is that if you didn’t come up with your Old Oaken Bourbon Stump or whatever before, say, sometime in like the 1950s — often as not, they were offered up as a peaceful alternative to postgame mayhem, mauling and occasional murder — then you’re trying too hard to force yourself into the fun.

Don’t let that be a deterrent.

Forget the trophy. It’s bigger than that.

So let’s just say it: Texas A&M needs to be LSU’s most hated rival. Even though, in contrast to the old pre-SEC games, the far gentler and friendlier Aggies seem to have developed a sense of decorum and hardly ever draw battle swords or miss the spittoon in polite company.

Makes it’s harder to dislike them when “Howdy, folks!” is the new Aggie Battle Cry.

But get past that.

This needs to happen. Be it Houston, Baton Rouge or the far reaches of the oil patch, too many Aggies and Tigers are co-mingling not to make this happen, preferably with hard feelings.

But there’s one hang-up before this thing can truly graduate to year-round angst or taunting with state-border billboards and message board mischief.

Mainly …

LSU has to win this game Saturday.

That kind of pressure doesn’t seem fair to the Tigers, who have won seven of the eight meetings since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012, eight of the last nine overall (there was a Cotton Bowl mixer just before becoming conference foes).

LSU was part and parcel to probably the two worst games Johnny “Football” Manziel played with the Aggies (but, admit it, it was still hard to take your eyes off of him).

LSU was beating A&M when Ala-by-dang-Bama couldn’t figure it out.

But this is the game — this Saturday — that LSU has to win to cement it.

And that could be a problem.

LSU, not being well versed in true rivalry protocol, may not be familiar with the term “You can throw the record books out the window.”

This might be a good time to study up on it, embrace it.

There doesn’t appear to be any other way around it.

The Tigers, one pandemic year removed from their perfect-storm of a national championship, approach this critical juncture in their history with their worst team of this century.

Texas A&M has its best.

It’s still a long shot, and it’s not really in their own hands, but there is a path for the Aggies to the College Football Playoff. They were at No. 5 in the first rankings.

But LSU can put a quick end to those dreams Saturday night.

It seems a long shot — even LSU fans seem to just be hoping it doesn’t get too embarrassing — but such a stunt would not go unnoticed.

It’s the kind of thing true rivalries are built on. For the first time, A&M is probably assuming victory. Take away something like that and the ill will linger for years.

Motivation?

It’s a push, sadly.

LSU has memories of that last visit to Kyle Field — the seven-overtime 74-72 loss in 2018.

“Don’t remind me,” head coach Ed Orgeron said this week of all the Murphy’s Law lessons LSU learned that night.

Reminder: There were four key plays when LSU did nothing wrong and A&M did nothing right, all four of which had to follow each other in just the right order to give A&M the victory.

But A&M would counter that LSU settled that score in Baton Rouge last year with a 50-7 thumping. If anything, it puts the coveted revenge factor back in the Aggies’ hands.

But maybe its doable. Think of all the debauchery Auburn has come up with for Bama through the years.

My guess? All LSU has to do is figure out a way to score 72 points again.

This time, in regulation.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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