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Delusional Optimism Wants Bama

Are you afraid? I’m not afraid.

Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Y’all haven’t needed Delusional Optimism much this year.

The whole point of Delusional Optimism, at its most fundamental level, is to remember that these are games, and games should be fun. And you haven’t needed me, or anyone else, to tell you to have fun this year.

It’s not hyperbole to state that we have never had a season like this in Baton Rouge. We’ve had great teams, undefeated teams, and national championship teams. Hell, LSU has even had teams which can score before, but LSU’s great Point-a-Minute team was in 1908.

Let the fact something like this last happened over a century ago be your guide. This has been a total blast, watching LSU become a different team. It’s like we’ve been living in the Land of Make Believe for the past two months.

Well, we’re back in the real world now, and Mr. McFeely is on the front porch with a stack of bills. You thought this ride was free? There ain’t no free rides.

It’s all fun and games until you gotta play Bama. Which of course has led to more than our fair share of hand wringing and beating of chests, as LSU fans bemoan how unfair it is that Bama is in our division. Or they complain about how Bama is in the players’ heads when they really mean Bama is in their own head.

Can the loser talk and get over it.

You can hide under the sheets, but that won’t take care of the monster in your closet. The only way to conquer your demons is to actually go forth and conquer them. That’s not done by whining and crying. It’s done by doing.

How great is that? Every year, LSU has a chance to beat the biggest, baddest monster in the college football universe. That’s not something to be mad about, that’s something to be excited about. It’s a chance for LSU to prove itself. No excuses, no comparing resumes. You do it on the field, and either you’re good enough or you ain’t.

That’s awesome. What could be better?

We wait all year for football season to start. When football season comes, we root like hell for our team to be the best in the country. And you prove that by going out there and doing it. This is the thing you’ve waited all year for. This is the test which defines the season, and I’m supposed to be afraid of that?

Let Bama fans figure out how best to duck competition to inflate their chances of winning titles without playing anybody. That’s their schtick, not ours. We run into the Valley of Death. Yeah, we might not come back, it is the Valley of Death after all, but the names and stories will live on in lore.

For the glory is not in the succeeding, it is in the trying. Every year, LSU lines up, face to face, with the most successful dynasty in college football history. And we’ve lost, but we’ve lost for the best of reasons: we are the team that Alabama has marked as their equal.

They make sure they get the open date before this game. They always bring their A+ effort and perfect execution. They aren’t looking ahead to someone else. This is their whole season in one game, every year, and they play like it.

What could be greater? To be marked as the worthy adversary to this movie’s eternal villain? We don’t ask for them for their attention, we have it. Bama knows that this is the game they have to pull out all of the stops, and they do.

And people are tired of that? How? Why are you so afraid? Because I guarantee you that the players and coaches aren’t. They want this game. They want Bama undefeated at home, on national TV, with Game Day and SEC Nation and any other pregame show that wants to come, and with the president in attendance. Hell, dig up Bear Bryant. We don’t care. Make it the biggest damn spectacle in college football, because that’s exactly what it is, and everyone knows it.

Some teams are afraid of big games. Some fans are afraid of Bama. Some people wish the season was a little safer and a little lamer.

Not Ed O. Not this LSU team. Not you, my fellow Delusional Optimists.

Because these guys don’t give one damn about what happened in 2016 or 2012 or whatever. Most of them were kids when those games happened, and it had nothing to do with them. Except Zach von Rosenberg, he clearly remembers the whole losing streak because he’s almost my age.

But Joe Burrow was in Columbus two years ago. You think he’s spent more than three seconds thinking about some game that happened in 2017 and has no impact on this year’s game? He’s too busy completing 78 percent of his passes and throwing 30 touchdowns to care about some games that he didn’t play in.

Maybe Justin Jefferson cares. I mean, his brothers played in a lot of those games, but now he has a chance to live out every younger brother’s dream: accomplish what your older brothers couldn’t. He’ll have family bragging rights for eternity. Jefferson has other concerns, like maintaining his 100-plus yards per game average, one of just 14 players in the nation to be doing so.

Unfortunately for him, that only ranks second on his own team. He’s at 102.4 per game, slightly behind Ja’Marr Chase at 107.0. And they still have a touchdown bet to win. Jefferson and Chase are tied at 9 on the season, leaving the door open for Terrace Marshall, back from injury, at 7.

Ed Ingram is simply happy to be playing, he doesn’t care about the past. Damien Lewis is a senior starter and a rock on our much improved line, but he was in JUCO two years ago, and LSU-Bama was the furthest thing from his mind.

It feels like Rashard Lawrence and JaCoby Stevens played in every LSU-Bama game from 2012 on, but I assure you the haven’t. They are the rocks of this defense and the veteran leaders determined to stem the tide, not get bowled over by it.

Derek Stingley was playing high school ball last year at this time. He doesn’t care about what a bunch of old farts did. He’s too busy rewriting the record book. Kristian Fulton has had too many off the field setbacks to be dwelling on the past. Besides, he’s only one pass breakup behind Stingley on the year, and he wants to brush up that NFL resume.

Grant Delpit’s year didn’t start the way he wanted it to, but he’s been rolling recently, and if he wants to reinsert himself in the Butkus Award discussion, dominating the Alabama game would be a good place to start. He’s too worried about the future to be worried about the past.

K’Lavon Chaisson missed last year’s Bama game, and that’s probably the only thing he remembers about it. How he could have made a difference.

Maybe you’re obsessed with the past, and maybe Bama is in your head over seven years of losing to the Tide. But not these players. they weren’t here. Don’t confuse your hangups for theirs. They want this game, so they can prove themselves and define their legacy. You don’t become the greatest LSU team ever by backing down from fights.

It’s time to go back into the belly of the beast. No one honestly thinks we’re gonna win, that it’s gonna be same old-same old. Good. Let them think that. Either you’re in or you’re out. Right here, right now.

This game is why we’re fans. Embrace it. It’s the Game of the Century… again. I guess we’ll have to win this one, just like we did the last one.

I bet that is a game you remember.