Good luck, Chattanooga.
You’re headed to Tiger Stadium to play 12th-ranked LSU on Saturday night.
You’re an FCS program — a good one, but nonetheless an FCS program facing an FBS program — so you’re outmanned to begin with. But given the history of your opponent in such games throughout the 21st Century, you’re really in a tough spot.
There are a lot of numbers that add up to you leaving with an 0-2 record and the Tigers moving on to SEC play with a 2-0 record.
Let’s start with the current win streak.
LSU has won its last 47 games against non-conference opponents in Tiger Stadium. That’s the longest current streak in the country and the sixth-longest ever.
A victory on Saturday would tie Miami (1985-94) for the longest such streak since World War I.
Hold on. There’s more.
Since you’re an FCS program I feel compelled to point out that your brethren are 0-12 against the Tigers.
As for the SEC, no one in the conference — not Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, no one — can match LSU’s winning percentage of .952 (60-3) in non-conference games since 2000.
The heart of that stretch was an NCAA-record 52-game non-conference win streak that ended in the season opener against Wisconsin at Lambeau Field last season.
Before that game, the Tigers had not lost a non-conference game since 2002 when Virginia Tech won the season opener 26-8 in Blacksburg.
As for teams from some place outside the SEC entering Tiger Stadium and exiting with a victory, well it hasn’t happened since 2000 when UAB pulled it off.
Since then, LSU has non-conference victories against 38 FBS programs representing all nine of the SEC’s peers, and last week’s 27-0 win vs. BYU got the independents in on the action.
We all know why teams like LSU schedule teams like the Mocs. It’s for the same reason that boxers schedule sparring partners. They need good work against an opponent that has enough ability to sharpen their skills without having enough ability to represent a serious danger of injuring them.
The Tigers opened the season with what turned into little more than a sparring match as they whipped BYU, a program of significantly greater stature than Chattanooga. LSU was able to play 17 true freshmen and eight redshirt freshmen.
Few if any anticipated LSU having that easy of a time, but this game was scheduled with the expectation that young players such as quarterback Myles Brennan, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and others will get much-needed experience without learning on the job in a situation in which freshman mistakes could jeopardize the outcome.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron called the Mocs a “solid football team,” but added, “It’s not going to be about them. It’s going to be about us.”
Which is exactly right. It’s about the Tigers using this game to prepare themselves for the start of SEC play next week at Mississippi State.
“Here is the challenge of this week, OK?” Orgeron said. “Focusing on the task at hand. Get our team ready, get our team ready for a battle, and we’ve all been in these games where you can overlook the opponent and it turns out to be a battle. So we are not planning for anything but a battle.
“Obviously if things go the way we want them to — and in any game, just like you saw last week — we put in the freshmen. We will play the freshmen. but only when it’s time. We are not going into the game saying, ‘we are not playing this guy, we are not playing this guy.’ We are going in guns loaded to win the football game, whatever it takes.”
And, who knows, maybe the Mocs will make things interesting for a half, perhaps even three quarters, and maybe even four quarters.
But recent history strongly suggests otherwise.