Playing for bowl opportunities

The 2008 SEC Championship Game was set after Alabama defeated LSU on Saturday and Florida took care of business against Vanderbilt. With the Tigers now out of the hunt for a trip to Atlanta on the first weekend in December the focus for Tiger fans has now shifted to what bowl game LSU will play in.

Les Miles, however, has been adamant about focusing on the Tigers final three regular season games rather than bowl opportunities because his team still has a lot to play for in his mind.


With LSU sitting at 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the conference most fans have already started to look ahead to bowl possibilities.


However, there are more important things on the minds of the headman and his players as they head down the stretch.


“We’ve got three games left and a bowl game so end up 10-3 and that’s another 10-win season which is a great accomplishment,” said LSU junior tight end Richard Dickson. “It’s not what we’ve been doing the past couple of seasons … but we’ve got a young team and we’re going to be great next year and we’re really building on the program right now.”


The heartbreaking loss to No. 1-ranked Alabama was tough for the players to swallow.


After Ricky Jean-Francois blocked Leigh Tiffin’s 29-yard field goal at the end of regulation, all of the players in postgame interviews said they felt the Tigers were going to win.


Following Jarrett Lee’s fourth interception of the game and John Parker Wilson’s touchdown run, though, LSU’s hopes of defending its conference championship washed away.


That was a tough pill to swallow and especially so for LSU’s seniors, including defensive tackle Marlon Favorite who received some good advice from his parents on how to handle the situation. 


“They said ‘Marlon just give it all you got the rest of the season. You got three more games so play the best you can and encourage your team to play the best they can and give it all you got’.”


After leaving everything on the field some wonder if LSU has any gas left in the tank and if the players are emotionally drained.


The last five weeks have seen the Tigers lose to a ranked opponent only to bounce back the following week and put a check in the win column.


They will need to be just as resilient this week as they have been the previous two times with a 6-3 Troy team coming in that traveled to Ohio State and Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks back in September.


The Trojans fell 28-10 to the 11th ranked Buckeyes the week after Ohio State got destroyed by USC, and they battled against No. 13 ranked Oklahoma State only to fall 55-24.


If LSU isn’t ready to play then it could be a long night for the wounded Tigers, but they do have a little experience at bouncing back.


“Just like we’ve been doing all year long we have to refocus and move on and just leave it in the past,” said LSU senior defensive end Tyson Jackson. “I think our team has done a pretty good job of leaving the loss where it belongs at.”


The dreams that this team had going into the season may have washed down the drain, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t something to fight for.   


“We’re not going to win the SEC or our division so we just want to finish out strong and not let up,” said senior receiver Demetrius Byrd. “He [Miles] told us we were going to fight and we were going to be alright.


“We still have something to play for and it’s the best bowl opportunity we can get,” added junior receiver Brandon LaFell.



Bowl Scenario


The bowl scenario for LSU at this point looks to be a best case scenario of the Cotton Bowl followed by the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.


However, depending on how things shape up over these next few weeks a trip to the Music City Bowl is not out of the question.


If LSU wins out then a trip to the Cotton Bowl is a near certainty.


After that a lot depends on what happens from here on out.


The bowl picture will me much clearer after LSU meets Ole Miss. An LSU win will all but guarantee that the Tigers will not fall any lower than the Cotton Bowl assuming that they beat Troy this weekend.


However, an Ole Miss win over LSU combined with both teams finishing 8-4 could give the Rebels the inside track, but all indications are that the Cotton Bowl would still select LSU.

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