Survive and advance.
At the end of the day, a 197.175 is not a terrible score. It would have advanced at any regional contested this weekend, and the score would have won two of them. Luckily, LSU was at one of the two at which the score would win the regional title.
But the score felt a lot worse than it actually was simply by how it was compiled. The Tigers started the meet on the beam and the bars, two lower scoring rotations to be sure, but still the two rotations at which the Tigers had the biggest edge on paper. This was where LSU was going to build its insurmountable lead.
Things didn't work out that way. Let's just list the first four scores on the bar to kick off the regionals for LSU, without comment:
Jessie Jordan stopped the bleeding with a 9.850, followed up by Courville's 9.900. Still, of the first four gymnasts, only one (Shae Zamardi) posted a score higher than a 9.800. It was pretty close to a total disaster of a start.
Nebraska, LSU's biggest competition for the regional title, kept the pressure on by scoring a 49.175 on the bars on the next rotation. Meanwhile, LSU limped along to a 49.200 on the beam. It was a decent score, but in light of the slow start on the bars, it looked like the sluggish start had now infected the next rotation.
LSU had its bye on the third rotation, and as the team collected its collective breath, it could see a disturbing standings at the halfway point. LSU still maintained the lead with a 98.250, but Nebraska and Iowa St. were tied for second at 98.175. Denver still had a shot in fourth at 97.825. Simply put, LSU had failed to put the meet away on its own terms.
So the team looked at that scoreboard and internalized what needed to be done in the second half of the meet: LSU needed to completely dominate to put this thing out of reach. And that's exactly what they did.
LSU scored a 49.450 on the floor, and suddenly the team had a 0.675 lead over second place. The meet wasn't over headed to the 5th rotation, but it was close to it. LSU just needed a decent vault to secure advancement. Instead, they crushed it. LSU scored a 49.475.
Going into that final bye, LSU had built such a large lead in the final two rotations that it was mathematically impossible for anyone to catch them aside from Nebraska. Makes the final bye a lot less nerve wracking when you know you're certain to advance, and extremely likely to win.
Nebraska closed the final margin of victory to 197.195 to 196.950. Respectable, but never so close to challenge for the title in that final rotation. The Huskers built a full one point lead over Denver, and comfortably advanced to the Fort Worth as well.
It wasn't a masterpiece, but it was a win. And at this time of year, all wins are beautiful.