Les Miles has operated his program under a 24-hour rule all season.
24 hours after a win or loss, you move on to the next opponent. No questions asked.
They were all wins, so the first seven games weren’t tough to get past.
The weekend’s 24-17 loss at Auburn is a different story.
“Coming out of a game like this it hurts, because you lay it all on the line,” said senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, who was in on seven tackles and LSU’s only sack. “When you leave the field with a loss, it hurts really bad.”
When starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson walked out of the locker room to meet the media on Saturday he, very simply, described the team as “quiet.”
“There’s just a bunch of guys in there with their heads hanging down,” he said. “I’m just trying to pick them up. I still have confidence in this team. This loss just snapped us back to reality.”
The reality is that Auburn, the winner of the showdown between unbeatens, jumped Oregon and Boise State to move to No. 1 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings. They are third in the Harris, AP and USA Today polls.
LSU went in a different direction.
The first loss of the season dropped the Tigers from No. 6 to No. 12 in three polls: the BCS, Harris and AP. They are now ranked No. 13 in the USA Today poll.
The one word each player used to describe the situation: frustrating.
“It’s frustrating because we have all the athletes in the right places, and this weekend we played hard and gave it our all,” said running back Stevan Ridley. “But Auburn is a solid football team. Let’s not kid ourselves. We just have to bounce back with this week off, because the next test is going to be even bigger.”
Alabama, also 7-1 but ranked No. 7 in the latest BCS standings, heads to Baton Rouge for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff on Nov. 6. Just like the Tigers, the Tide are set up with a bye week before the Western Division showdown.
“We both have two weeks to get prepared, so our focus has to be there,” said senior receiver Terrance Toliver, who has just one win over Alabama in his four years with the program. “This is one that a lot of us want pretty bad, and now we have to get it to stay alive.”
Auburn also has a date with Alabama, a Nov. 26 game in Tuscaloosa that serves as the last line on each team’s schedule.
Between now and then, Auburn plays at Ole Miss and then at home against Chattanooga and Georgia. Alabama’s next three games are at LSU, at home against Mississippi State and at home against Georgia State.
For LSU, there are home dates with Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe and Ole Miss before ending the season on the road against Arkansas.
Though eight weeks are complete, the next four hold the answers to which team will represent the West in Atlanta and potentially land a spot in the National Championship.
“The season isn’t really over yet, but we can’t lose another game,” Jefferson said. “You don’t know what will happen. Auburn could lose a game and then we are right back in it.”
With a day off on Monday, Miles will begin practicing his team again on Tuesday, which is when the players will meet with the media for the first time since Auburn.
If the 24-hour rule serves its purpose, the focus will be on Alabama and Alabama, only.
“We have to come out and continue fighting the way LSU Tigers are known to do,” said cornerback Patrick Peterson. “That last game isn’t going to decide our season, and hopefully we will be where we want to be at the end. That starts in two weeks.”