Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 21, 2018 at 1:45 am.

Much at stake for Tigers in finale

LSU can accomplish a lot in its regular-season finale at Texas A&M on Saturday night.

The Tigers (9-2) can have their first 10-win season since 2013 and all but officially lock up a berth in a New Year’s Six bowl. They could sneak into the CFP if a highly improbable series of upsets were to occur. Regardless, LSU’s post-season destination can be a significant one if it knocks off the Aggies.

It’s also worth noting that a victory Saturday would give the Tigers (5-2) sole possession of second place in the SEC West and a sweep of all their division opponents besides No. 1 Alabama. A loss would leave LSU and A&M tied for second.

The Tigers cruised past 1-10 Rice, 42-3, in a nonconference game to conclude their home schedule last Saturday.

Coach Ed Orgeron said Monday at his weekly news conference that he doesn’t need to remind his players of what’s at stake.

“We’ll talk about (how) this is the final game, they worked very hard to get where they’re at, we’ve got to finish strong,” he said. “To me this is a one-game season. Everybody knows what’s on the line. I don’t need to talk about that for motivation. They understand that.

“This is about playing Texas A&M. None of that stuff’s going to matter. This is about playing in your gap, it’s about being physical, taking care of the football, playing LSU ball.”

At the same time, Orgeron did acknowledge what a win against the Aggies would mean to his program as he completes his second full season as head coach.

“I think it’s a huge step in building a championship program, where LSU needs to be,” Orgeron said. “A 10-win season, going to a New Year’s Day bowl. I think you have to take steps, I think this team has taken steps, and also I think that we learned lessons.

“Every game is critical. This is a critical football game for us. We’re going on the road and we’ve gone on the road and we’ve won and we have gone on the road and not played very well. I think it’s going to be the attitude that we take this week of guys are looking forward to finishing the season strong, not looking forward to finishing the season.”

Orgeron said coach Jimbo Fisher has turned the Aggies into a more physical team in his first season.

“They come to hit you,” Orgeron said.

“On defense they’re very solid. Their front four is very good. They run around and hit you on defense. To lead the (SEC) in rushing means you’re tough. And they run the football. They’re tough running the football. Think about it: they lead the league in rushing and they have one of the leading rushers (Trayveon Williams) on offense. So they’re tough, their physical. He’s changed the mindset.

“This is going to be a battle. This is not an old Texas A&M team that we played, this is a physical tough team.”