LSU has lost its season opener in each of the past 3 seasons.

In each season, it showed improvement in the immediate aftermath of the opener.

Two years ago, the Tigers rebounded from a season-opening loss to Mississippi State to win 2 of their next 3 games.

Last season, they rebounded from a season-opening loss UCLA to win their next 3 games. The first 2 were against McNeese and Central Michigan, but the 3rd was the SEC opener against Mississippi State.

This season, they have rebounded from the opening loss to Florida State to win 3 straight. They were all at home, and outmanned opponents in Southern and New Mexico were sandwiched around Mississippi State.

So we don’t know where this season is headed.

The brief bounce-back 2 years ago came in a 5-5 season, and the brief bounce-back a year ago came in a 6-7 season.

It’s Tell the Truth Monday. And the truth is that this 3-game winning streak doesn’t mean a whole lot.

LSU is at the same point in this season that it was the past 2 seasons, when those brief bounce-backs proved to be brief — Auburn week.

In 2020, the Tigers were coming off their first game without quarterback Myles Brennan. TJ Finley stepped in after Brennan suffered a season-ending injury, and LSU dominated South Carolina, 52-24.

Then it went to Auburn and got thrashed 48-11, starting a stretch of 3 losses in 4 games.

In 2021, Auburn went into Tiger Stadium and edged LSU 24-19, starting a stretch of 5 losses in 6 games.

But this 2022. Two different sets of Tigers.

This is Brian Kelly’s LSU team, not Ed Orgeron’s.

Auburn is having a tough time. Who knows if Bryan Harsin would even be the coach this week if Missouri had made a chip-shot field goal at the end of the 4th quarter, rather than missing and allowing Auburn to escape in overtime.

The truth is that this is a really important week for LSU. The past 2 seasons have shown that a loss at this point can send the season in the wrong direction.

This is Kelly’s 1st road game in the SEC. Then the Tigers host Tennessee, visit Florida, host Ole Miss and Alabama, then visit Arkansas. That’s a bunch of really tough games in a row.

It’s easy to how a loss to Auburn could be followed by a stretch featuring more losses than wins — just like the past 2 seasons.

But the truth is, a victory against Auburn would be a 4th consecutive win for a team that seems to be growing each week. It would make LSU 2-0 in the SEC and presumably pretty confident heading into that gauntlet.

Each game counts as merely 1/12th of the regular season. But depending on when it’s played and whether a team takes advantage of — or fails to take advantage of — an important opportunity, 1 game can have a trickle-down effect on future games.

The beat-down against Auburn 2 years shattered the Tigers’ confidence — especially at quarterback. Though they took advantage of a COVID-depleted Arkansas team a week later, they didn’t fully recover until Max Johnson stepped in and guided wins against Florida and Ole Miss to end the season.

The much closer loss to Auburn last season was followed by a bullying at the hands of Kentucky, which did in Orgeron. The team did rise up to beat Florida the next week, but that was the only SEC victory until the finale.

It’s true that it’s too easy to label games as “must-wins” or otherwise exaggerate the importance of a single matchup, especially when there isn’t something tangible on the line that can only be gained by winning that particular game.

This week isn’t a must-win for the Tigers — at least not the ones that will be dressed in gold. The season will continue, and whether LSU is 1-1 or 2-0 in the SEC isn’t going to make a huge difference.

But Kelly and his staff seem to have their team trending in the right direction.

They have addressed personnel issues on both sides of the ball, and changes have produced improvement.

The truth is that the evolution of Orgeron’s last 2 teams generally came in the form of 1 step forward and 2 steps back.

This team looks like it might be ascending.

No, this isn’t a must-win game.

But the truth is, as 5th games in coaching tenures go, the outcome of this one could be pretty significant.