As Ed Orgeron reflected a day before his team plays for a College Football Playoff Championship, one moment stood out that helped spur LSU to its massive success this season. And it wasn't a pleasant one.
It was a humbling loss to the Troy Trojans of the Sun Belt Conference, a 24-21 result at Tiger Stadium that marked a turning point for the program, Orgeron said during his final press conference before facing Clemson at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"It helped us realize what we had to get done, what we had to do as a coaching staff, as players," Orgeron said. "We could never let our hands down. We always have our hands up and ready to prepare for every game."
And the results bear that out to be true -- with LSU losing just five games since, tied for the fifth-fewest in college football over that span behind Clemson (2), Alabama (3), Ohio State (4) and Oklahoma (4).
The moment is nearly here for Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers, a moment filled with obstacles that once made it seem like it would never arrive.
In that same span they've won 30 games, including all 14 they've played this season en route to the title shot. Of those five losses, three came down to the final moments in losses to Florida, Notre Dame (Citrus Bowl) and Texas A&M (7 overtimes).
A comparison of LSU's record from the start of the 2015 season up through the Troy Loss (20-9) and their record since shows just how big that turnaround has been compared to college football's other top teams.
The Tigers' net wins gained (pre-Troy wins - losses over post-Troy wins - losses) is 14. In a survey of the top 10 programs in wins and all other SEC teams, only Notre Dame (+16), Missouri (+18) and Central Florida (+38) rank ahead of them. All those of those teams, particularly UCF, have seen big gains from poor or sub-500 records to prompt the big gains.
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The programs with the best records -- Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma -- have consistently won games throughout the 5-year stretch. Clemson has the exact same record (33-2) from 2015 up to the LSU's Troy loss and since that game -- a combined record of 66-4 and the best mark in the entire FBS.
Central Florida's massive turnaround saw them improve from 9-19 to 32-4, with that latter stretch including a loss to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl to close the 2018 season.
But despite the shift into sustained success and with it higher expectation, Orgeron still expects his group to "block out the noise," as he puts it often, even if its complimentary noise.
"Now the noise is good. Look, they're going to be on that Twitter machine. I know they will," Orgeron said. "You can't stop them, know what I'm saying? But we don't talk about individual awards. We don't talk about anything except the task at hand, and we keep everything team, and I think that helps us out."
LSU and Clemson kick off Monday at 7 p.m. (CST) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (ESPN).
LSU coach Ed Orgeron doesn't often respond to jokes made at the expense of his distinctive gravelly and Cajun-influenced speaking style.
Dabo Swinney doesn't have the Cajun roots of the coach he's set to face Monday in the College Football Playoff Championship Game.