How threatening is LSU with nothing to play for…or lose?

It was supposed to be a play-in game. At least for half the party. Georgia has probably already earned its place in the College Football Playoffs. But LSU? Next Saturday was to be a day that few expected so early.

Two losses. One game left. A chance to make it into the last four.

It was all there – and then it just slipped through the Tigers’ fingers.

With a chance to become the first two-loss team to make it to the CFP — just as they were the first two-loss team to win a BCS national championship — the Tigers laid an egg, losing 38-23 against Texas A&M and eliminated from playoff consideration.

It also created a very interesting scenario in Saturday’s SEC Championship game against the Dawgs: What kind of threat poses from a Tigers team that has absolutely nothing to lose and nothing to gain?

You could tell me the matchup will go either way, and I wouldn’t be surprised. On the one hand, with nothing left of significance for the Tigers except maybe a better bowl game, you might be able to expect the team to come up flat in Atlanta. Say what you want nothing changes and you are just trying to make a profit regardless of the repercussions. The fact remains, however, that these are 18 to 22-year-olds who, 48 hours ago, expected to still have a chance at the 2022 state championship.

You can’t tell me that once all that pretty hardware is off the table, their motivation doesn’t change.

On the other hand, there is absolutely no pressure. Lose to Georgia, who cares? Add it to the list. You shouldn’t have won. The Dawgs are better. They are aiming for a national title. You are currently playing in a SEC championship game with a loss of 3.

It’s that latter mindset that gives me the slightest break for Georgia on Saturday.

Because look, LSU is still a good football team. Nothing changed with his loss to Texas A&M. A team that should be really good beat a team that should only be okay. It happens.

LSU still has Jayden Daniels as quarterback. Daniels still has 2,566 passing yards and 824 rushing yards. He still has 11 rushing touchdowns and can still scare any defense to death – even the vaunted No. 1 unit of the Dawgs.

The Tigers still have two pass rushers in Harold Perkins and BJ Ojulari who can plague any opposing quarterback. Perkins leads the team with 7.5 sacks and Ojulari is right behind him with 5. Perkins was solid all year but especially in the second half of the season. In one game, a 13-10 win over Arkansas, Perkins notched 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles to burst onto the stage.

Georgia is not Arkansas. The offensive line is certainly less permeable, and the Dawgs aren’t sending backup quarterbacks like the Razorbacks were doing that day.

But still. Four sacks draws everyone’s attention, no matter who they are against.

The point is this:

If you’re counting on LSU not to compete, fight back disappointments, and possibly throw in the towel during a crucial week of training, I think you’re missing the obvious.

The tigers have talent. They’re a good football team, period, and will certainly have some advantages over the heavily favored Dawgs.

Georgia can win – probably will win – but it won’t just be because the Tigers didn’t show up. This is still a grind no matter how you cut it.

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