Ed Orgeron won his first game as LSU's interim head coach one year ago Sunday, last Oct. 1. The Tigers unveiled a partially revamped offense and crushed Missouri that day, and Orgeron began his ultimately successful pursuit of the full-time job replacing Les Miles.
Nearly all of the goodwill Orgeron built up during that run has quickly been erased. It would be inaccurate to say that September couldn't have gone worse in Orgeron's first season as the permanent head coach, but Saturday ensured that it would come close to the worst-case scenario.
Troy beat No. 25 LSU 24-21 on a disastrous night for Tigers football, two weeks after a 30-point loss to Mississippi State. Playing without injured star running back Derrius Guice, the Tigers outgained the Trojans 428-363 but committed four turnovers and went 0-for-8 on third downs (Troy went 10-for-18).
Troy controlled the game most of the way, leading 17-0 early in the third quarter. LSU fumbled on its first play, turned the ball over on downs on its second possession, punted twice and missed a field goal in the first half.
⚔️⚔️⚔️ (@TroyTrojansFB) September 30, 2017
The key play actually happened just before a Troy field goal in the final moments of the second quarter. Brandon Silvers hit John Johnson for a 20-yard pass to the 20-yard line. The clock ran out, but upon review, officials ruled that there was still time left. The teams returned to the field, and Evan Legassey made a 37-yard field goal that would ultimately make the difference in the game.
Troy mistakes helped give LSU a chance, but the Tigers couldn't quite capitalize. They cut the lead to three with a touchdown with 1:59 left after a Troy fumble and a couple fourth-down conversions. The Trojans couldn't run out the clock, and LSU got the ball back at its own eight-yard line, but after a 27-yard Danny Etling pass to D.J. Chark, Etling was intercepted by Blace Brown to seal the upset.
LSU had won 49 straight nonconference home games.- ESPN (@espn) October 1, 2017
Troy was not interested in such streaks. pic.twitter.com/5SWeYCSmtU
Troy had come close to upsetting LSU in two previous meetings. In 2004, LSU scored a late touchdown to beat the Trojans 24-20. In 2008, Troy blew a 31-3 lead it had late in the third quarter and lost 40-31. The latter game came with current head coach Neal Brown as offensive coordinator. Brown has done a fantastic job as head coach of the Trojans, leading them to 10 wins last year, plus a close loss at Clemson. Although they've been uneven early this season, winning close games against New Mexico State and Akron and losing to Boise State, they're a legitimate Sun Belt contender with a coach destined for a Power Five job.
Troy is a good, competitive Group of Five team. There is, however, no such thing as an acceptable loss to a Sun Belt team for LSU.
LSU was a 20.5-point favorite to beat Troy (lost 24-21). It's the Tigers' second-biggest upset loss in the last 40 seasons. pic.twitter.com/l5cKfyL8e4- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 1, 2017
By the time the Tigers started to mount a comeback, most of Death Valley was already empty:
The Orgeron hire was met with skepticism at the time -- his only full-time head coaching gig was a disastrous stint at Ole Miss that ended a decade ago -- and this September has only added fuel to the initial criticism. Making matters worse for LSU is the fact that Mississippi State team that blew out that Tigers has subsequently been blown out by Georgia and Auburn.
That fact just adds insult to injury after what happened to LSU on Saturday, a loss to Troy that will make winning back public support a tough battle very early in Orgeron's tenure.
Hey @LSU, thanks for having us down for homecoming! We really enjoyed it! 😁- Troy University (@TROYUnews) October 1, 2017