- Must - verb \məs(t), ˈməst\ 1b: be urged to : ought by all means to
- Win - verb /win/ 1: be successful or victorious in (a conflict or contest)
- Is Saturday a must-win for LSU? Yes, for a few reasons.
- Like Poseur said earlier this week, it's a chance for LSU to right the ship of its winless SEC start against a not-so-great Florida team that is coming off one of the ugliest wins any of us has seen in quite some time. Florida's quarterback situation is questionable at best, though that won't matter if LSU can't win in the trenches and stop Matt Jones, Kelvin Taylor, Jeff Driskel, or whichever smaller sack of meat Will Muschamp orders Kurt Roper to throw at larger sacks of meat as a means of moving the ball. It also won't matter if LSU's offense can't suddenly transform itself from an exploded, burnt out car to a serviceable Ford Pinto: capable of self-destructing at any time, but a decent method of transportation if you're careful enough. We know what LSU's issues are, and I can only keep the metaphors going for so long.
- Opportunity - noun /äpərˈt(y)o͞onədē/ 1: a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.
- The opportunity that's presenting itself for LSU to get right on the season cannot be overstated. A road win could build a lot of confidence in a young team that's heading back to Baton Rouge for its second home SEC contest against a revived Kentucky. Win in Gainesville, and suddenly LSU is one win away from bowl eligibility, which I'll take after how this season has started. Vince Lombardi once said that confidence is contagious. He's right. And if you're familiar with the quote, I paraphrased for a reason.
- I'm obviously getting ahead of myself here since neither LSU nor Florida have played a snap against each other in 2014 and Les Miles boasts an impressive one win in four trips to the Swamp. It comes with the caveat that two of those losses were against two National Championship teams and the third to an 11-2 team in 2012. Looking ahead to bowl season is a little much for a team that's been thoroughly whipped in its two games in conference, and it doesn't get any easier from here.
- Which brings us back to why Saturday is crucial for this team, I would argue, in the long term. Stacking LSU against other teams on its schedule via the eye test and stats shows that we might not have many potential wins left on the schedule, if any at all. Florida and Kentucky aren't pushovers, but as it stands they offer the best opportunities for this team in its current form to make something out of this season. By that, I mean a bowl game.
- And I'm not stumping so hard for a bowl game because of a bowl streak, the #want to finish at .500 or better, or because of mere pride. One thing it's easy to overlook during bowl season is the preparation that goes along with it. With a team as young as LSU's, the practices that making a bowl game allows are going to be crucial to any young team's development. Not to mention the extra game-speed reps they'll get heading into 2015 against a live opponent. I don't care if the game is in Shreveport, Memphis, Houston, or on the Moon (actually that would be pretty cool) so much as I care about the practices that go with it. Winning two more games gives this team another chance to improve heading into what we all hope are boom years in 2015 and 2016. Before they have that next chance to improve, they've got to improve now. From the way Florida has played, it looks like LSU can start that trend tomorrow.
- By the way, I absolutely love the Florida game, just because it's provided me with most of my football memories in my young life. Like upending the Gators in Baton Rouge during the 1997 season, the heart attack that was 2007, and the other heart attack that was 2010. I was at the 2010 game, and the last fade to Terence Toliver happened right in front of my section. It was one of the weirdest finishes to a game I've ever witnessed, but it was an absolutely amazing one. I have also been around for some not so great games, like the blowout in the Swamp in 2008 and the derpfest that was 2009. Plus, Florida has a way of attracting some villainous coaches who can win. Spurrier was the quintessential coaching heel until his tenure ended in Gainesville. We look at him with rose-colored glasses now, and rightfully so. After Florida Zooked themselves between 2002 and 2004, Urban Meyer filled that same heel role nicely. Muschamp doesn't have the same inherently loathsome qualities that his predecessor had, or even the ones Spurrier had while he was there. God knows Jeremy Foley will find someone who does though, since it always seems to work out for them. But because of the memories I've got from this matchup over the years, as well as the cast of characters it seems to invite, Florida is (and probably will always be) my favorite game on the schedule.
Ten Thoughts: Florida
All is not lost.