Arkansas shouldn’t count on a post-Alabama hangover afflicting LSU on Saturday morning in Tiger Stadium.
Sure, the Tigers spent two weeks gearing up for the Crimson Tide thanks to a strategically placed open date on Oct. 28. Sure, it was an emotional, physical game in which LSU competed to the end only to have a disappointing outcome (a 24-10 loss). Sure, the 4-5 (1-4 in the SEC) Razorbacks don’t grab any opponent’s attention the way No. 2 Alabama does.
But this same scenario preceded the Arkansas-LSU game last season: the Tigers had an open date before playing Bama, gave it all they had emotionally and physically only to come up short (10-0) and the Razorbacks were 6-3, 2-3.
LSU clearly had no hangover in Fayetteville last season, whipping Arkansas 38-10 in as good a performance as the Tigers managed all season.
“I remember last year,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “We went up there and beat a good Arkansas team, very similar — coming off a tough loss to Alabama.”
This year, the loss to Alabama ended a three-game win streak and dropped the Tigers to 6-3, and to 3-2 in the SEC. It also knocked them out of the Associated Press Top 25, though they remained in the CFP rankings at No. 24.
After the game against the Razorbacks, LSU visits Tennessee and hosts Texas A&M to finish the regular season.
“I think we’re about to bounce back well,” Orgeron said. “We’re about to bounce back with some confidence. We believe in finishing very strong this season and having a great season starting with Arkansas. We’ve got a lot of things to play for, and we want to have a very good year.”
The Tigers have a chance to salvage at least a good year from something that had the potential to be a disaster. That’s another reason a hangover seems unlikely — LSU has responded well after its previous two losses.
It shook off a confidence-rattling 37-7 loss at Mississippi State in its SEC opener to hold off Syracuse in a 35-26 victory that seemed rather pedestrian at the time but seems more impressive since the Orange knocked off Clemson.
LSU bounced back from a shocking 24-21 home loss to Troy with its three-game win streak, which included two opponents ranked at the time — No. 21 Florida and No. 10 Auburn.
“It’s the fire that (Orgeron) brings in the locker room right after (games),” LSU center Will Clapp told NOLA.com|The Times-Picayune. “He does a great job of making sure nobody dwells on anything. We don’t dwell on a win and we don’t dwell on a loss. That’s just how he is.
“It’s ‘this isn’t going to change us, we have a lot to play for … you’re going to learn from it and get back up.’ He said he’s not about to let us tail off. He’s going to hold us to a high expectation.”
Orgeron emphasized — both in the immediate aftermath of the loss to the Crimson Tide and during the preparation for the Razorbacks — that the Tigers, though by no means satisfied by the outcome against Alabama, got a confidence boost by out-gaining their higher-ranked opponent and holding their own on both lines of scrimmage.
Either of the first two losses could have shaken LSU’s confidence, but didn’t, so it’s unlikely that the competitive effort against the toughest opponent on the schedule would do that.
“Our guys have done a tremendous job of moving on to Arkansas.” Orgeron said. “I’m excited about this football team.
“I think this year is a little bit different because our guys are feeling good about themselves right now, although they lost. They’re seeing we’re building a championship team. I think they’re hungry, and we’re playing at home.”
Although the mystique of Tiger Stadium has nothing to do with 11 a.m. kickoffs, it sounds like LSU will be ready.