Bowl games are quirky, especially non-BCS bowl games. No, scratch that, non-BCS bowl games are weird. Unless you're playing for a national championship or a BCS game, they're virtually a consolation game for winning half of your games. Yeah, they're fun and most of the time they pit two teams together who don't often play in cities they don't often play in (unless you're a fan of a SEC school, which I hope you have family in Atlanta or Dallas). Yet they have a funny way of possessing two polar extremes: Win and end the season on a high note, letting your seniors ride off into the sunset victorious, and maybe even getting a nice pay bump for the head coach. Lose and it's another exercise in frustration, a sour taste that stays in your mouth until August, and more tape to add to the "FIRE (INSERT COACH HERE)" file. Football tends to deal in absolutes like that.
And here is the problem LSU fans have: losing these bowl games hurts more than winning them will ever help. This was the case last year as well as every year since the "Golden Age of LSU Football" dawned. Well, except for this year. This year, there's a mantra I've noticed occur again and again throughout the season: Audere est Facere. "To Dare Is To Do". Yes, it is the motto of Tottenham Hotspur, and that's how I came across it, but bear with me. I want to see if LSU sees that mantra through.
Let's rewind back to Black Friday. We all know what happened, Zach Mettenberger went down with a knee injury while (heroically) standing in the pocket taking a hit in order to complete a pass to Jarvis Landry late in a contest against an Arkansas squad that frankly had LSU dead to rights at that point. In comes Anthony Jennings, who frankly struggles on his first drive, but does enough to set LSU up for a field goal. And then the defense stood tall and forced Arkansas to give the ball back, but not before the Razorbacks unsheathed the proverbial dagger and planted it in the chest of the Tigers by downing the punt at the one yard line. The rest will more than likely go down in LSU and Death Valley lore forever, 99 yards in under three minutes with a true Freshman who was having his baptism under fire. To dare.
That was just the most recent example of LSU adhering to that mantra. Whether it was taking on an eventual National Championship contender and keeping it to no less than a two possession game in a victory, facing a 3rd and 22 from your own 13 on a must-score drive against a (at the time) Top 10 team, or even sticking a true freshman on an eventual Biletnikoff Award finalist who just so happens to have the defending Heisman Trophy winner throwing to him. However, the defining moment of the season and best example of this mantra happened in the worst loss of the year: picking yourself up after being physically beaten and over matched instead of laying down and accepting the loss and your pain, however large it may be. To dare.
Remember when I said football deals in absolutes? It's also a cold mistress. That injury Mettenberger sustained in the final act of the Arkansas game will hold him out of the Outback Bowl. While I personally hurt for Mettenberger and wish just as much as he does that he could go under center for one more game, there is a silver lining to be found here. The 2014 season as well as the Anthony Jennings era is underway for LSU. He's already proven his mettle and earned his stripes, now there's just one simple thing he needs to accomplish from here on out: Do it.