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Tigers try to recharge mentally during bye

The SportsXchange

LSU is in an unfamiliar situation for its second open date of the season.

The 18th-ranked Tigers (7-3 and 3-3) are out of contention in the SEC West and about the only thing at stake the rest of the way is trying to reach a disappointing bowl rather than a really disappointing bowl.

Such is life when you've been a BCS title contender and suddenly find yourself scrambling in mid-November to try and get into a New Year's Day bowl.

The last glimmer of hope for sneaking into the SEC title game vanished when No. 1 Alabama beat LSU 38-17.

"We're going to dig deep now," quarterback Zach Mettenberger said. "There's a lot to play for. We don't want to be a five-loss team at the end of the season. We've lost some tough games, but we can still save some self-respect for ourselves."

LSU plays host to Texas A&M on Nov. 23 and Arkansas on Nov. 29. Its ranking is its lowest since 2010.

"We've got a lot to play for," running back Jeremy Hill said. "We're going to have a big home game and get to play in front our fans. So it's going to be a big one."

This is the first time LSU, which was ranked No. 12 in the AP preseason poll, has lost three of its first 10 games for the first time since 2008.

The Tigers, who are 21st in the BCS rankings, were minus-2 in turnovers in a game in which they probably needed to be plus-2 in order to have a reasonable chance.

"Just too many turnovers," wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. "In a big-time game like this against the No. 1 team in the nation -- a great team -- you can't do that."

No LSU team has allowed more points to the Crimson Tide since 1947. It was the third straight loss to Alabama in less than two years.

The 21-0 loss in January 2012 cost a previously undefeated team a BCS Championship and a last-minute touchdown pass from AJ McCarron to T.J. Yeldon cost the Tigers a chance to play in the SEC title game last season.

The stakes were less for LSU this time around, but the worst part of this defeat is that may be an indicator that the gap between the two programs is widening.

NOTES, QUOTES

BYE WEEK MISSION: LSU is in the midst of its second week off in three so there's no great need for physical rejuvenation. But mentally, this team can use plenty of rejuvenation after suffering a third loss and for the second time in a month having to lower its sights for this season. The arrival of Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M into Tiger Stadium in two weeks should get the juices flowing again, but the loss to Alabama was a stark reality check.

PLAYER NOTES:

--WR/KR Odell Beckham Jr's 790 kickoff-return yards are the second-most in a season in LSU history. He needs 143 more to surpass the record of 932 set by Patrick Peterson in 2010. He has caught a pass in 24 consecutive games and in 35 of his 37 career games.

--RB Jeremy Hill has surpassed his touchdown total from last season with 13. His 25 career touchdowns are 10th most in school history and one more than Billy Cannon had.

--Zach Mettenberger is the first quarterback in LSU history to pass for more than 2,500 yards in consecutive seasons.

--LB Lamin Barrow has three games with double-digit tackles after making 11 against Alabama. He had 11 against Auburn and 13 against Florida.

--Freshman WR Travin Dural made his first career touchdown reception when he made his sixth catch of the season on a six-yard throw from Mettenberger against Alabama.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Graduation happens. Leaving for the NFL certainly happens. We recruit good players and expect those guys to step up. Do I recognize the loss of quality guys? Yes." --LSU Coach Les Miles on the Tigers' fall from contention in the SEC West.
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