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The ‘What If’ Game
We here at SEC Country published a cool little story Thursday, looking back at the bizarre sequence at the end of the 2016 LSU-Auburn game. We spoke to players, coaches and broadcasters from both teams about the play to voice their memories. What resulted was an oral history of the craziest and most important second of football for either team in 2016.
So, before LSU and Auburn go head-to-head again Saturday, let’s imagine an alternate universe where the outcome went the other way. What would this Saturday look like if Danny Etling had gotten the snap off, LSU beat Auburn and returned to Baton Rouge confident with a 3-1 record? Here’s the Bayou Bengal Briefing’s theory. If you think you have a better theory, let us know in the comments below.
We can start with the obvious assumption: Les Miles doesn’t get fired. Not yet, at least. LSU beats Auburn, then reels off three straight easy wins against Missouri, Southern Miss and Ole Miss. That much doesn’t change. Nor does the outcome of the Alabama game. If anything, it’s probably a little uglier. Things do change after Alabama, though, when a Miles-coached LSU team loses to Arkansas for the third year in a row. After that loss, enough is enough and Miles is relieved of his responsibilities.
Just like in our timeline, Ed Orgeron is promoted to be LSU’s interim coach. With all the craziness surrounding the rescheduled game and Orgeron’s first week, Florida overwhelms LSU in Tiger Stadium that weekend. Orgeron leads the Tigers to a win over Texas A&M in College Station the next weekend, but 1 win isn’t enough to retain the head coaching job full time.
Still unable to get Jimbo Fisher or Tom Herman, Joe Alleva chases after some up-and-coming small school candidates. Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck and South Florida’s Willie Taggart both interview for the job, and Alleva opts for the upstart Fleck fresh off an undefeated season. Auburn, which fired coach Gus Malzahn after the LSU loss dropped the team to 1-3, spites its in-state rival by hiring Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin to run the team. Kiffin hires his good friend and former coworker Ed Orgeron to be his defensive coordinator.
Do you have a better theory for how things would’ve gone? Give us your best hypotheticals in the comments below!
Predicting … in song!
As regular readers of the Bayou Bengal Briefing know, I don’t like to predict the outcomes of games in writing. I prefer to do it in song.
Watch the video below to find my prediction for LSU-Auburn. It’s sung to the tune of The Clash’s classic “London Calling,” and it’s simply titled “Auburn Coming.” Enjoy!
What if I don’t trust you?
Don’t trust my prediction? How about the folks at Sports Illustrated?
All seven of Sports Illustrated’s writers who were tasked with picking between Auburn and LSU picked Auburn to come to Tiger Stadium and end its losing streak Saturday. Seven out of seven. Perhaps that’s unfair, but it makes sense given the trajectory these two teams are on.
Obviously, I disagree (see above). But there’s a reason Auburn is favored to win by 7 points. The Orange Tigers have been as hot as any team in America over the last three weeks, feasting on the bottom tier of the SEC. It’ll be a tough task for LSU to handle Auburn’s offense, which is averaging 48 points per game in SEC play. Especially when it comes to slowing down one player in particular …
Well, that was a segue
I took a deeper look at Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson and what’s allowed him to be so successful this season. You can read that full analysis piece by clicking here.
If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, here’s a Cliffs Notes version:
- Johnson has a special blend of speed, power, balance and vision. If you take away the middle of the field, he can use the sidelines. If you contain the sidelines, he can run through linebackers.
- That said, there are ways to slow down Johnson. Namely, Johnson hasn’t played deep into the second half at all this season, so stamina in close games is a question mark. Additionally, Johnson isn’t a good second-down runner and Auburn doesn’t use him on third-and-medium or third-and-long plays. If LSU can constrict his carries on first down and force quarterback Jarrett Stidham to win the game with his arm, the home team should be in good shape.
Your weekly nonrevenue LSU sports update
LSU-Auburn is going to be a huge game. But it isn’t the only sport happening this weekend. Here’s a schedule of what else you can look for in LSU athletics:
- The volleyball team travels to Auburn on Friday for an SEC showdown, then returns home Sunday for a rivalry matchup versus Alabama.
- Fresh off a Thursday night loss to Arkansas, the soccer team gets a respite from SEC play Sunday when it hosts Central Florida.
- Men’s and women’s cross-country travel to Tuscaloosa for the Crimson Classic Friday. Action begins at 9 a.m. CT.
Today in made-up holidays
It’s the spookiest day of the year. That’s right. It’s Friday the 13th. If you’re a superstitious person, you didn’t need to be told that. But in case you needed some reminding, be careful today.
I, for one, don’t believe much in the superstition of being cautious on Friday the 13th. But I know a lot of people do. So for those of you who are afraid to go outside and be social on this day, here are some good guidelines:
- Avoid black cats
- Don’t step on cracks in the pavement
- If you see a ladder, don’t walk underneath it
Hope that helps.
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The post Where would LSU and Auburn be right now if last year went differently? appeared first on SEC Country.