Dream scenario for Orgeron: LSU has real shot at Sugar Bowl
How much changed for Ed Orgeron after LSU’s 38-10 Week 10 romp over Arkansas?
How about this: He went from being an interim coach trying to find a way to keep the job long-term to a situation in which the job may well be his to lose.
How did that happen? Well, LSU is suddenly on an inside track to the Sugar Bowl. And if the Tigers get there, there may be no denying him the job.
How did we get here?
When Orgeron took the job after a 2-2 start, it was generally thought that there were two scenarios where he gets the “interim” removed from his title: One, he leads the Tigers on an eight-game winning streak, upsetting Alabama. The other, he falls short of beating Alabama but otherwise makes a strong impression.
Of course, the “Beat Bama” scenario didn’t happen. But after this weekend’s “Chaos Week,” including LSU routing Arkansas one week after hanging tough against the Tide in a 10-0 loss, the second scenario has been enhanced.
It’s not quite as sexy as beating Alabama and winning the SEC, but it’s one that, if Orgeron and company can pull it off, would make it awfully difficult for Athletic Director Joe Alleva to look anywhere else for a head coach.
As of today, LSU is the favorite to get to the Sugar Bowl. After Chaos Week, where three unbeaten teams lost and four more ranked teams lost to unranked teams — including SEC Sugar Bowl favorite Auburn losing to Georgia — LSU has become the Sugar Bowl pick of the moment in just about every new bowl scenario (save CBS).
Louisiana sportsbooks are up and running. Residents in the state can now signup at one of the various sportsbook operators and begin betting on NFL, college football, NBA and more.
LSU hasn’t been to the equivalent of what they now call “the New Year’s Six” bowls since losing to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game in the 2011 season. If Orgeron can end that streak, shouldn’t he get the job? If so, this job could be his to lose because the Tigers look like a fairly solid bet to get there.
That’s a huge change from a week ago.
It’s important to note that LSU doesn’t control its destiny to punch a ticket to New Orleans. Three teams control their Sugar Bowl chances more than LSU.
Start with this week’s opponent, Florida. If the Gators win two more games, they could be the team in New Orleans. And that doesn’t necessarily mean a win over LSU this week. But if the Gators lose to LSU, they would probably need to beat Florida State in the regular-season finale and Alabama in the SEC Championship Game (this would require Tennessee getting upset, opening the door for Florida going to the SECCG) to get to a New Year’s Six game. If the Gators sweep their final three games (including Alabama), it’s not out of the question that they could sneak into the College Football Playoff conversation with a little more chaos around the country.
Next comes Tennessee. The Vols are LSU’s biggest fan this week because a win by the Tigers over UF would potentially get the Vols the division title. They would also need wins over Missouri and Vanderbilt — far from guaranteed, given Tennessee’s volatile season — but if that were to happen both UT and UF would finish 5-3 and Tennessee would win the division based on a head-to-head win.
Beat ‘Bama in Atlanta and Tennessee would be a shoo-in for New Orleans. Lose and it would be an interesting choice between UT and LSU. Tennessee would be 9-4 and would have wins over Virginia Tech and Florida, but in that scenario, 8-3 LSU would also have a win over Florida, plus a win over Texas A&M, which beat Tennessee. LSU would also have a better SEC record (6-2 vs. 5-3) against a tougher, Western Division-heavy schedule. Isn’t that a more compelling worksheet?
The next team that controls its fate more than LSU is Auburn, which can finish 9-3 by beating Alabama A&M and, more importantly, Alabama. Win that and no doubt the Tigers head to New Orleans over LSU.
But here’s the thing: While LSU can win out, yet be denied a NYE6 appearance, the Tigers’ Sugar Bowl scenario is the most likely of all of them.
The Tigers must win at home against Florida and at Texas A&M. Neither the Gators nor the Aggies have their original, and now injured, starting quarterbacks available. LSU, which has been dominant against everybody but Alabama since Orgeron took over, figures to be the favorite in both games.
The Tigers’ four wins under Orgeron have all been resounding victories, including blowouts over SEC foes Ole Miss, Missouri and Arkansas (on the road). The one loss, 10-0 to Alabama, was arguably the most competitive game the Tide has played all season, save Ole Miss.
It’s hard for any of the other teams to match what LSU could do without beating either Alabama or LSU. (We should note that Texas A&M can re-enter the conversation by winning out, including a win at home over the Tigers.)
So, just like that, there is a manageable path between LSU and a very desirable post-season fate.
And just like that, Orgeron’s path to the permanent job is becoming more clear. If Orgeron can get a team that was 2-2 and coming apart at the seams to a NYE6 game, what more could LSU administrators want to see in his audition?
If it happens, athletic director Joe Alleva shouldn’t waste time. He should name Orgeron permanent coach as soon as the bowl announcement is made and let him get started in recruiting between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
Tell me again why Orgeron shouldn't be full time head coach? 2 more wins and he's there
— Ralph Malbrough (@SaintsForecast) November 13, 2016