BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU’s season did not end when the Tigers dropped their season opener to Wisconsin on Saturday.
It had only just begun.
Coach Les Miles admitted his team wasn’t as ready as he would have liked against a previously unranked Badgers team that’s ascended to No. 10 in the Week 2 AP Poll. Interestingly enough, the last 2 national champions in the College Football Playoff era have each lost a game en route to the title match, including the 2014 Ohio State team that lost 35-21 to Virginia Tech in its second game.
Senior fullback J.D. Moore took some solace in that recent history after he left Lambeau Field on Saturday night.
“That was my first thought following this weekend — that there have been many great teams with a loss along the road,” Moore told SEC Country on Tuesday. “The year we beat Auburn is the year they went to the national championship, or Alabama last year. There are a lot of great teams with 1 loss and I think we’re one of those teams that can do it.”
Moore was referring to the 2013 Auburn team, whose only regular-season loss was to LSU before it ran the table to advance to eventual champion Florida State. The past two champs in the College Football Playoff system, Ohio State in 2014 and Alabama in 2015, each lost games in September before winning out and nabbing titles.
Both players and coaches believe these Tigers are equally as talented as those champions, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that they could follow the same blueprint to a championship.
“Several years ago, they were saying the Ohio State team that lost to Virginia Tech and came right back and decided that that was the last time we were going to lose and really ended up winning the national title,” Miles said. “I think our team is capable and talented. I recognize that they did not play as well as they’re capable. I think there’s a lot of factors that go into that …
“The approach has always been to improve us. The goals we’ve set are still very much in front of us. Let’s go achieve.”
A common theme with Miles and the LSU players was the improvements the team is bound to make between the Wisconsin game and this Saturday’s showdown against Jacksonville State. That is a must-win affair if the No. 21 Tigers want to follow the path taken by the 2014 Buckeyes and 2015 Crimson Tide to the national championship.
LSU will shift most of its attention to Jacksonville State, a hungry Ohio Valley Conference team coming to Death Valley. Beyond that are the same goals the team had on the plane ride up to Wisconsin.
“We’re going to get better day by day,” sophomore outside linebacker Arden Key said. “Nothing is set. Nobody is a champion off the first game, no matter if you’ve won or lose. We just have to take it day by day and improve.”
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tiger Stadium.