BATON ROUGE, La. — October might be over, but the scariest part of the LSU football season is just beginning.
Today marks the first day of November. For this year’s LSU squad, November means competition. All four of the teams left on LSU’s schedule have spent the majority of this season ranked, with three of those opponents in the top 10 of the most recent AP Top 25 poll.
The upcoming schedule is tough, but the Tigers also have plenty to play for. So before LSU gets put through the ringer of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Texas A&M, let’s take a look at what it’ll take for the Tigers to get through it unscathed and just how hard that might be.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, a statistic that ranks the 128 teams in college football based on how far above or below FBS average they are, LSU has been the eighth-best team this season. Despite this, FPI predicts that the Tigers have just a 7.9 percent chance to win out, a mark that has a lot to do with how well Alabama is perceived.
FPI gives LSU a 34.5 percent chance to beat Alabama, making this the Crimson Tide’s hardest game left. After Alabama, things don’t get too much easier. The metrics gives LSU an 83.2 percent chance to beat Arkansas (No. 47 in FPI), a 75.8 percent chance to beat Florida (No. 15 in FPI) and a 47.2 percent chance to beat Texas A&M (No. 9 in FPI).
LSU has the toughest remaining schedule in college football according to FPI. Mississippi State ranks second with nearly the same remaining schedule as LSU, just with Ole Miss instead of Florida.
But in “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” news, LSU still has the fourth-highest percentage chance to win the SEC, after Alabama, Florida and Auburn. In order to win the SEC, LSU will need to win all four of its remaining games and for Auburn to lose at least one of its three games against Vanderbilt, Georgia and Alabama.
November will be an uphill battle for LSU. But it’s not game over. At least, not yet.
In yesterday’s Bayou Bengal Briefing, I asked what I thought was a difficult question.
Given that — in a way — Auburn controls LSU’s destiny in the SEC West race, I brought up September’s Tiger Bowl. For those of you who don’t remember, LSU lost that game on a last-second official review that overturned what would’ve been a winning touchdown.
Auburn took the goodwill of the win and turned it into a better-than-expected season so far. LSU came home after the loss, fired Les Miles, promoted Ed Orgeron, and the rest is history.
So if you could make it so that call at the end of the Auburn game wasn’t overturned, would you? A large majority of you say no.
As the poll results show, 68 percent of the 151 of you who voted in yesterday’s poll said you wouldn’t change a thing about how this season has gone, valuing Orgeron’s presence over an improved record.
And 18 percent of you conceded that you’d have been OK with Les Miles keeping his job with one loss after the Auburn game and trust that the Tigers would’ve won against Missouri, Southern Miss and Ole Miss, regardless of who was running the team.
And then there’s the 14 percent of you who are overly pragmatic. That faction of you voted that the outcome of the Auburn game probably won’t end up mattering either way. There’s a good chance LSU’s going to lose again this season, so there’s no sense in saving a loss earlier in the season.
Thanks to all of you who participated in yesterday’s poll. Be on the lookout for more polls in future editions of the Briefing.
Want to gear up for the Alabama game by reading a lot of words? Well, now you can. Here are some of the best and most important LSU articles that you should read, from SEC Country and from around the web.
- A study from The Advocate found that LSU is the only school in the SEC that brings in more donations for its athletic department than for its academic departments.
- LSU will be just about as healthy as its been all season against Alabama
- If you missed any of what Ed Orgeron had to say Monday, you can find the full transcript here
- Tigers players weren’t quick to make any guarantees about “dominating Alabama” this week
- The key to Saturday’s game? Protecting Danny Etling. That said …
- … blocking Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen will be a handful
- And, to post a story I wrote, LSU’s players aren’t stressed about their losing streak against ‘Bama
LSU caption contest
Every Tuesday in the Briefing, I run a contest where I ask you to caption a screenshot from the previous Saturday’s game. Well, there wasn’t a game last Saturday. So here’s a leftover screenshot from the Ole Miss game.
To the right, I’ve posted a photo of LSU sophomore defensive back Donte Jackson. He looks kind of confused. But what’s on his mind?
If you have a guess, or just a joke you want to share, you can let us know in one of three ways:
- Post your caption in the comment section of this article
- Comment on the post on our LSU Insiders Facebook page
- Tweet it to us @SECCountryLSU
As always, the best five or six replies to the photo will be featured in this Wednesday’s edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing, along with your name and whatever other information you include.
Arbitrary analysis, part 2
In yesterday’s Briefing, I kicked off this week’s edition of Arbitrary Analysis, the countdown of all things unquantifiable. In honor of LSU’s game against Alabama this weekend, I’m counting down the best moments in the life of Alabama’s most famous (fictional) alum. That’s right, it’s Forrest Gump week.
Today, I unveil No. 4 on my countdown of my favorite scenes in Forrest Gump. Make sure to follow the Briefing all week as I count down to No. 1.
No. 4: Forrest says goodbye to Bubba
Sorry if I just made you sad.
There’s a lot of death in Forrest Gump. But no scene hits quite like watching Forrest hold his best friend in his arms on a Vietnamese riverbed as helicopters zoom by, dropping napalm on a warring jungle.
Aside from the emotions, the direction is spectacular. There’s a reason that Forrest Gump won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Starting at about 1:30 in that clip, you’ll see maybe my favorite shot in the whole movie. Planes whiz through the sky, dropping bombs and lighting fires and destroying trees, but creating a sort of cacophonous symmetry that frames both the speed Forrest is running at, and the desperation of why he’s running.
Plus, as in almost every heart-wrenching scene in this movie, the genuine moments are undercut with a subtle humor, defending and defining the innocence in all of us. And there’s Tom Hanks’ impossibly expressive face, taking everything in.
Just like us.
Former LSU safety and Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu, now with the Arizona Cardinals, is expected to miss the next 3-6 weeks with a shoulder injury he sustained in Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Prior to his injury, Mathieu hadn’t been performing at the same high rate he put up in 2015.
In eight games this year, Mathieu has 26 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble.
By comparison, in 14 games last year Mathieu recorded 80 tackles with five interceptions, one forced fumble and a defensive touchdown.
The Cardinals have a bye week this weekend before they face San Francisco in a divisional showdown Nov. 13. If Mathieu returns in three weeks, he’ll be back for a game at Atlanta.
The bilingual quarterback
As I pointed out last week, LSU quarterback Danny Etling is bilingual.
Danny Etling holding a conversation with a student-athlete from Louisiana School for the Death. Personally thought it was pretty cool! pic.twitter.com/xU4T1mZass
— Lindsey Scott, Jr. (@_lj18_) October 28, 2016
That’s right. Etling speaks sign language. Though he’s not fluent in ASL, Etling said Monday he can hold a conversation, and explained where he picked up the talent.
“I learned sign language at Purdue,” the transfer quarterback said. “That was my foreign language class. I took it for four semesters. All my teachers were deaf. You were just thrown in there and you had to learn it. It’s actually been pretty useful. I use it more than I thought I would. It’s a nice language to learn because you get to talk to people you normally wouldn’t get to talk to. I’ve actually enjoyed it a lot.”
Etling went on to explain that he and the student in the above video were talking shop. Etling said most of his sign language professors at Purdue wanted to talk football with him, so he’s more than capable of signing his way through a conversation about the sport he plays.
As for if sign language has any application on the football field? Etling said he might be using some signals to teammates in sign language. You never know.