Mandate for LSU: Just beat Central Fla.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Just beat Central Florida. Mainly, don’t be Auburn.
That seems to be the mandate for LSU today in the Fiesta Bowl against Everybody’s Upstart, the UCF team that has won 25 straight games but still can’t get a seat at the adult’s table for the College Football Playoff.
The Knights have won 25 straight games under two different coaches.
Yet beating them is still viewed as something of a no-win proposition by the blue-bloods, of which LSU would like to think it still belongs.
Danged if you do, double-danged if you don’t.Should the breaks go against the Tigers (see A&M, Texas) or they just play badly, UCF is liable to claim another national championship, as it did a year ago under similar circumstances.LSU will get the blame.
The Knights aren’t tipping their hand as to their postgame plans.
First-year coach Josh Heupel, who’s not much for small talk (or any kind of talk, really), basically said that those school decisions are beyond his pay grade.
The bowl will go ahead and play the game as a New Year’s Six, which is sort of the high consolation prize for good teams that don’t make playoff cut.
It’s still big. Monday, for instance, the bowl relied on an unnamed orangutan at the Phoenix Zoo to pick the winner.
The beast actually grabbed both school’s t-shirts almost simultaneously, forcing bowl officials to go to video replay to rule that he’d actually selected UCF.
So there’s that if LSU needs any extra motivation. The Tigers so far aren’t having much more luck with reviews than they did against Texas A&M.
But let’s get this out of the way up front.
If LSU gets beat, the Tigers get beat.
Plain and simple.
They won’t have any excuses.
There are a few tempting ones to choose from, but none really should apply. Don’t even think about playing the Auburn card.
A year ago UCF’s “national championship” was basically based on completing its unbeaten season with a 34-27 victory over Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
That validation was poo-paahed by Auburn apologists who claimed those Tigers weren’t really interested in playing that day, that it was too big of a letdown after they blew a chance at the playoff by losing the SEC championship games, that they really had nothing to play for and had trouble working up a good head of steam over the affair.
In layman’s terms, Auburn was “flat.”
Auburn didn’t issue an official statement as such, but enough outsiders did it for them that it became the rallying cry to keep UCF down. Shame on them. Whatever works. But it doesn’t apply to LSU. Don’t come singing that tune if things go awry.
If nothing else, the Auburn excuse got so much play that it should at least open the Tigers eyes to the situation.And they should be excited about playing.
LSU wasn’t in the CFP discussion after losing to Alabama.
The Tigers went into the Texas A&M game in good faith, assured that a “New Year’s Six Bowl” was in the balance, probably the Fiesta Bowl.
They lost under dubious, somewhat controversial circumstances in a seven-overtime heartbreaker. And so they ended up in a New Year’s Six Bowl, definitely the Fiesta.
Pretty square deal, there. It’s a reprieve from the governor.
Unlike Auburn a year ago, LSU should be thrilled to be out here in the desert for the New Year.
True, a lot of things have changed since the A&M debacle.
Mostly it’s LSU’s defensive depth chart, which will be a missing a good chunk of its starters, including the top three cornerbacks and three defensive linemen.
“I was thinking about that orangutan,” Orgeron said Monday as a possible solution. “Maybe give him couple of snaps. Maybe we could use him in a couple of positions.”
That would be must-see TV. It kind of stretches the limits of football’s “next man up” theory.
But, barring an orangutan in purple and gold, it does complicate the matter.
However, all the Tigers’ MIAs — it’s the usual: injuries, suspensions and NFL defections — have departed with little effect on the Las Vegas line, which still has LSU as a solid touchdown favorite.
And this is DBU — as self-proclaimed as UCF’s national championships — which churns out NFL defensive backs like widgets.
Live up to your name.
“That’s why you came to LSU,” All-American defensive back Grant Delpit (who will play) said, “to play in games like this. You have to capitalize. It’s your turn now.” For that matter, UCF will be missing its best player, the heart and soul of the team in quarterback McKenzie Milton for a second game.
But UCF didn’t miss a beat — or many points — when Darriel Mack stepped in for a 56-41 win over Memphis in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
“We don’t blink, we don’t look back, we don’t whine, we don’t complain,” LSU linebacker Devin White said. “We just go. We don’t make excuses.”
Regardless of what happens today, now isn’t the time to start.