If you are a devout LSU football fan, you have no doubt been in need of some therapy since last Saturday night.
See if you recognize the five stages of grief since Alabama 30, LSU 16:
1. Denial: LSU isn’t going to lose to Alabama again. Not with Leonard Fournette running the ball. He can’t be stopped. Heisman, here he comes!
2. Anger: How many times is Les Miles going to send Fournette off tackle? Patton couldn’t break through that line in a tank! Throw a PASS!
3. Bargaining: If Nick Saban comes back to coach LSU again, I will sell all my possessions and give the money to the poor. I do need to keep my season tickets, though. And my 60-inch TV to watch the road games. But that’s all.
4. Depression: LSU is never going to beat Alabama again. Never. Take the TV. Burn the tickets. I don’t care anymore.
5. Acceptance: You know, life goes on. Football is just a game. And speaking of that, there are some big games left for LSU to play, aren’t there? It’s going to be a beautiful Saturday. When do we tailgate?
OK, I get the sense a lot of you are still working on No. 5. Like the guy who tweeted me Thursday after I wrote that all 16 national bowl projections I found for LSU post-Bama bleauxout had the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl (14) or the Peach Bowl (two) assuming they can win out to finish 10-1.
“No matter how sweet the bowl,” The Plant Guy tweeted, “can’t shake the shadow of how NS (Saban) owns LM (Miles). Like a Cold that won’t go away.”
TPG (The Plant Guy), I hear you. It’s frustrating misery for everyone out there who cares about LSU football — fans, coaches and players. That may go double for LSU’s coach, Les “Bury my run-loving heart at Ann Arbor” Miles, who tired pretty quickly of questions about Alabama’s Tiger-stuffing defense at his Wednesday media gathering.
“They’re a very talented defense at Alabama,” Miles said. “I’m good with that.” It was his version of Saban’s “It’s time to move on, aiight?” directive to the media the Monday after 2002’s Bluegrass Miracle.
Problem was, for LSU last year, the Tigers had as much trouble moving on from a gut-punch loss to Alabama as everyone else did the week of the Arkansas game.
It was a frigid, windswept night in Fayetteville last November when LSU played there, and the Tigers looked like they’d rather have been anyplace else as long as it was warm. Arkansas blanked LSU 17-0, then unapologetically grabbed “The Boot” trophy with both hands.
“Those guys were hungry,” former LSU running back Terrence Magee said then. “Most of the time they shake hands afterward, but they just went for the trophy.”
The Tigers had better not be in an Alabama-fueled funk this time around against Arkansas, or the same fate awaits them. It may anyway; Arkansas is playing with that much momentum, having scored 50-plus points in three straight games for the first time since Woodrow Wilson was in office (1916). The blind lateral pass by tight end Hunter Henry that kept the Hogs alive in overtime for a 53-52 victory at Ole Miss last week probably has given Arkansas renewed confidence as it tries to win its fourth straight and become bowl-eligible.
Arkansas has great balance to its offense with Brandon Allen throwing and Alex Collins running, all behind an offensive line that looks like the Andes. These modern day root Hogs are so massive that may pull smallish cheerleaders into their orbit because of their collective mass.
The Tigers still have a lot to play for and must respond accordingly. If LSU can finish 10-1 against a gauntlet that includes Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M, the Tigers would do no worse than the Sugar Bowl or another CFP non-semifinal game like the Peach. There are plenty of scenarios that have No. 9 LSU weaving its way back into the CFP top four. All of them require help — like Mississippi State beating Alabama on Saturday — but it’s certainly worth remembering Ohio State was ranked way down at No. 14 last year after Week 2 of the CFP.
The Tigers need to come out angry. Angry about the way they let themselves be pushed around at Arkansas last year. Angry about the way they let Alabama dictate the terms of LSU’s surrender last week.
It can still be a great season for the Tigers, the Alabama loss aside, but they’ll have to earn it. If not, there will be more grief for LSU than anyone could have imagined.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.