The LSU Tigers are trending like a Kardashian who just endorsed a new eyelash conditioner.
LSU vaulted to No. 2 in The Associated Press Top 25 on Sunday, snagging 12 first-place votes.
Joe Burrow was named Monday as Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time this season already (through six games) and has come from below the radar to being bandied about as the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. Not merely a star has been born; Burrow is going supernova.
More bowl projections are trending toward listing LSU as a College Football Playoff semifinalist. The whole country has a renewed hankering for Cajun food, especially barbecued tailgate alligator (I may know someone who still has some in the fridge).
And, perhaps most amazing of all, the alchemy of popular opinion is changing Ed Orgeron’s image from wild and unintelligible Cajun to colorful Southern football savant.
The LSU coaches speared their running back with padded sticks in Monday's practice, trying to dislodge the football from his tightened arms as…
Oh, yes indeed, everyone loves a winner. And the Tigers, who possess the nation’s best midseason résumé with two wins over top-10 teams when they played, Texas and Florida, deserve the praise they’re getting.
But if you’ve been a longtime observer of LSU football, who has been with the Tigers through the ups (two BCS national championships) and the downs (the Curley Hallman years), all this love for LSU has to rub against the grain to a degree.
To be sure, everyone wants their team to win every game. But the title of the final episode of Ken Burns’ recent “Country Music” documentary would be worth remembering for the Tigers and their devoted followers heading into Saturday’s game at Mississippi State:
“Don’t get above your raisin’.”
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has another school record.
No, this has nothing to do with dried fruit, smart guy. It has everything to do with remembering where you came from. But for LSU, the whiff of defeats past never quite leaves the nostrils.
Trying to avoid failure is a powerful motivational ploy. The tug-of-war it wages is with the fat and happy attitude that success brings.
“That's what we want,” Orgeron said of the attention and positive vibes his team is getting by the bucket full. “We want to be mentioned as one of the top teams in the country. I want our guys to get a Heisman.
“But inside our room, it's about fundamentals, about the task at hand and beating Mississippi State. You want the expectations to be high, but you also want to meet those expectations. Doesn't mean a hill of beans when you go to Mississippi State and not play well.”
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When LSU went to Starkville two years ago, it was the embodiment of not playing well. Everyone remembers the scars of the loss to Troy in 2017, but the 37-7 rout handed out by the Bulldogs that season was its own particular brand of ignominy.
“I will remind them that we walked into a hornet's nest two years ago, and I didn't have them ready,” Coach O said. “That was one of the loudest stadiums we had played in all year. Not only the cowbells, but the music, the fans were into it. Obviously, they played lights out.
“What happens with Mississippi State, they're going to pick one game a year that there's a target on. Always seems to be LSU. They're going to play their best game. We're going to expect their best football game.”
Best game is what the Tigers’ offense seems to have produced in Saturday’s 42-28 victory over Florida. Against what earned significant props as the SEC’s best all-around defense, LSU poured on 511 yards and the 42 points in just 48 offensive plays. No sacks. No turnovers. Nothing but fast-forward to the tune of 10.6 yards per play.
“That’s as close to perfect a game as you’re going to get,” Burrow said.
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And yet, there was Burrow after the game in the LSU locker room, reminding his teammates that good is not good enough. Burrow denied it, but Coach O and more than one player said Monday if it were up to Burrow the Tigers would have practiced Sunday instead of taking their customary day off.
“It was a big win, but we want to make sure everyone knows our goals are still in front of us,” Burrow said. “It’s time to get back at it.”
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who slipped through gaps in the Florida defense like he was lightly buttered for 134 yards and two touchdowns, indicates the Tigers got Joe Heisman’s message.
“Right now we’re 0-0,” Edwards-Helaire said. “Trying to be 1-0 is always the goal.”
The Tigers should be all about remembering where they came from. Their raisin’. If their heads don’t get too big for their helmets, this could turn out to be a mighty big season indeed.