Texas A&M (7-4, 4-3)plays their final regular season of the 2023 season this Saturday as they travel to Baton Rouge to take on the “rival” LSU Tigers (8-3, 5-2). If you’re an Aggie, you likely know how our fanbase is feeling heading into this game, but what’s the Bayou Bengals’ perspective? We reached out to Zach Junda from And The Valley Shook, SB Nation’s LSU team site, to get some answers.
You can also read my answers to some of Zach’s pressing questions on their site.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. What are the odds Scott Woodward tried to bring Jimbo Fisher on as an analyst? He’s at least thought about it, right?
There is a thread on TigerDroppings asking “SHOULD LSU BRING IN JIMBO AS A GM????” and I’m choosing to pretend that’s Woodward’s burner or he had some lackey make one and float the idea out there and see what the public reception would be. Unsurprisingly it’s largely negative and I’m confident it tears Woodward up inside that he can’t bring his special boy back home.
Year two of Brian Kelly has to have been somewhat of a letdown after winning the West in 2022. What are LSU fans’ thoughts on the trajectory of the program?
There’s a very real chance 2023 haunts Brian Kelly for as long as he’s here because he couldn’t field a defense good enough to support a national championship-worthy offense. There’s still a large contingent of people, like my dad for instance, who are still adamant ”ahh its year two look at the mess he inherited, just give him time!” But there’s a growing group of people who wonder “are we just going to be Notre Dame South?” which is to say good...but not good enough. LSU should be able to recruit at an elite level just off of Louisiana alone, but they don’t. And for a program that talked a big game about being “open for business,” LSU really dropped the ball on the whole NIL deal. Now LSU’s never really had consistency since Nick Saban left and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with stringing together consecutive 10-win seasons. But ask Penn State how they feel about James Franklin. Hell, ask Notre Dame fans how they felt about Brian Kelly. Kelly has said year three is when this program can seriously start contending for championships. Well, year three starts Sunday and they don’t look ready to me.
Based on geography alone, it feels like this rivalry should be more heated than it is, perhaps because by the time this game comes around, one if not both teams don’t have all that much to play for. How do LSU fans feel toward A&M?
I think that whatever negative feelings LSU has toward A&M isn’t aimed at the program itself. Instead, I think we’re more annoyed at the SEC trying to force a rivalry that just doesn’t really mean much to us. When it comes to a rival, LSU is just everyone’s silver medal of hatred. Alabama and Auburn have each other; the Mississippi schools have each other; like it or not but A&M is gonna have Texas again starting next season. Nobody here takes Arkansas seriously enough to consider them LSU’s true rival. It honestly might be Florida and now that annual game is going away because of the new scheduling format. Oh God am I saying I miss Tulane???
Jayden Daniels has made a strong case for the Heisman this season. What do you think he needs to do in this game to solidify his status as the favorite?
First Daniels is going to have to maintain his averages from this season. His numbers have been more than good enough for the Heisman, Saturday he’ll just have to do it one more time. But more importantly, if he’s going to win the Heisman he’s going to need Bo Nix to turn back into Auburn Bo Nix. Oregon State did a good job of holding Michael Penix in check, and I’m hoping the Beavs’ defense can do it again this weekend in Eugene. Fair or not, Jayden not playing next weekend is going to hurt his cause so he needs to leave a lasting impression Saturday, and hope the Pac-12 cannibalizes itself one last time.
Between a 2013 rainfest and a string of night games, this promises to be the first time the sun has shined on this game in Death Valley since A&M has joined the SEC. How livid are LSU fans with that 11 am kickoff?
Awfully livid because 11 A.M. kicks are sacrilege no matter what month it is. LSU fans are also livid at the SEC own-goaling their Heisman candidate’s last chance to impress voters by putting LSU-A&M up against Michigan-Ohio State. I’m gonna watch LSU-A&M, the good people at Good Bull Hunting are gonna watch LSU-A&M, but why would anyone else *cough Heisman voters cough* pick this game over the biggest game of the season?
This game appears to be strength vs strength and weakness vs weakness. How do you see it playing out? Score prediction?
Well I’ve long given up hope that LSU’s defense can stop anybody’s offense. Don’t let last week’s final score fool you, Georgia State was in that game early on. I just have to accept that A&M’s going to be able to do pretty much whatever they want on offense, but Jayden Daniels will be Superman one last time and LSU wins a 42-28 type of game.