The LSU Tigers were a popular pick to reach the College Football Playoff before the start of the 2016 season. But after losing to Wisconsin in the season opener, it wouldn’t be long until the bottom dropped out.
LSU would lose to Auburn just two games later, and then lose head coach Les Miles, who was fired after that second loss made it painstakingly clear that there would be no playoffs this season.
Enter interim head coach Ed Orgeron. The Louisiana native went 6-2 after taking over for Miles, with his two losses coming in tight contests against Alabama and Florida that could have easily gone the other way. Ultimately, he did enough to earn himself the permanent gig as the Tigers new head coach.
And after a commanding 29-9 win over Louisville in the Citrus Bowl, in which the LSU defense held Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson to 153 yards passing and just 33 yards rushing, Orgeron predicted the same results many were forecasting at the start of the season.
“Coach O told us in the locker room,” offensive lineman Will Clapp said, “‘It’s a great win, but next season, things are going to be different. We’re going to be in it (College Football Playoff).’”
Many of the players also see the win as a stepping stone towards a national championship next season.
“I see it as a step for next year. Feed off of this game for next season,” defensive end Lewis Neal said. “…win a national championship.”