ESPN once had a promo where it asked several PGA Tour caddies what they thought was the best golf movie of all time.
The responses, as they cut from caddie to caddie, were identical:
Finally, one of them was asked what he thought was the worst golf movie of all time.
“Humph,” the caddie snorted. “Caddyshack 2.”
Sequels usually suffer when compared to the original. There are exceptions to the rule, of course. Some (not me) prefer “The Godfather, Part II” to “The Godfather.” (“Bonasera, what have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully?”) The third “Lord of the Rings” movie is the one of the trilogy that brought home the Best Picture Oscar.
For the LSU Tigers, their objective Saturday night is to avoid getting caught in the trap of “The Hangover, Part III.”
Here’s the script: LSU gears up for two weeks for its annual prime-time showdown with Alabama. The Tigers give their all, physically and emotionally, to toppling the Crimson Tide. But they lose, getting beaten up in body and mind in the process. Then they have to take on a physical and not so emotionally spent Arkansas team the following week.
The result: The Tigers are given the boot — or, rather, they get The Boot taken from them — for another year.
Unfortunately for LSU, the first half of that scenario has played out to the Tigers’ dismay for a third straight season. LSU geared up, got healthy, emboldened and energized by interim coach Ed Orgeron, to give No. 1 Alabama a beating when it came to Baton Rouge last week.
The result was a box office success — Tiger Stadium was packed, and the equivalent of Denmark’s population was on campus — but a critical failure. LSU lost 10-0, coming no closer to scoring than a first-quarter field-goal attempt (that got partially blocked) after an interception in Bama territory while netting just 125 yards.
Hopes of reaching the SEC championship game? Over. LSU is mathematically eliminated.
Hopes of Leonard Fournette getting back in serious Heisman Trophy contention? Out of the question after his 35 yards on 17 rushing attempts.
Hopes of Orgeron retaining the LSU coaching job full-time? Hanging by a thin thread and likely requiring a running of the Thanksgiving tables from Arkansas to Florida to Texas A&M over the next 12 demanding days. (Save me a drumstick; I’ll be on the road.)
So the Tigers have packed up their emotional scars and physical bruises with the shoulder pads and cleats and shipped them up to Fayetteville — cold, inhospitable Fayetteville — for a game against wildly unpredictable but dangerous Arkansas.
These Razorbacks got demolished 56-3 at Auburn three weeks ago but rebounded at home last week to put the clamps on Florida 31-10. The Gators are an offensively challenged team to be sure, one that failed to score an offensive touchdown and had more first downs (13) than rushing yards (12). But on the flip side, LSU netted only 33 rushing yards against Alabama, with six measly first downs.
Playing a demanding road game in the wake of such an offensively demoralizing loss is what makes this game so treacherous for the Tigers.
Despite Florida’s inertia, on paper Arkansas has one of the worst rushing defenses in the SEC. Auburn stampeded through the Hogs like they got lost on the way to Jordan-Hare Stadium to the tune of an astounding 543 yards on the ground.
Does LSU have the willpower in its line to blow open holes for Fournette and Derrius Guice after being manhandled by Alabama’s front four last week? Will Arkansas spread its defense thin to guard against the pass after Danny Etling threw for 97 skittish yards against the Crimson Tide, or stack the box like days of yore?
Arkansas’ balanced offense, with Austin Allen throwing and Rawleigh Williams running, is threatening. But Dave Aranda’s unit did a magnificent job boxing in Alabama’s explosive offense for three-plus quarters.
There are three significant storylines left for this LSU football season:
1. Can the Tigers win eight games for the 17th straight season, extending the longest streak of any school in the FBS?
This is more a point of pride than a signal that LSU is still a program of national prominence, but it is an impressive mark.
2. Can the Tigers get bowl-eligible for the 17th straight season?
Losing one game because of the Florida rescheduling debacle means LSU has an 11-game slate for the second straight year. That means, at 5-3, the Tigers need one more win to get bowl-eligible, though because there are way too many bowls these days — the Sourdough Bread Bowl, the Tax Free Municipal Bonds Holiday Classic, the Oil Bowl (that actually was a thing once) — a five-win LSU could wrangle an invite somewhere.
Again, a point of pride, but something no other program can say.
3. Will Orgeron keep his job?
Losing to Alabama is no fun, though it’s no sin, either. But it’s the manner of LSU’s defeat — the offense futilely crashing into the rocks of Alabama’s defense — that is a blow to his candidacy. Les Miles could have gotten shut out by Bama, too.
For a game that doesn’t move the needle much nationally, this one sure means a lot locally.
For LSU, it’s time to turn this sequel into box office gold.