HOOVER, Ala. – LSU football coach Ed Orgeron is tougher than Teflon.

He’s had some brutal losses in his two-and-a- half seasons. In 2017, he lost 37-7 to Mississippi State, the program’s most lopsided defeat to a nonranked team since 1943. Two weeks later, LSU lost to Troy on homecoming. And last year, the Tigers allowed Texas A&M to tie the game on the final play of regulation, losing 74-72 in seven overtimes and snapping LSU’s seven-game winning streak in the series.

Those are losses which could get a coach fired, but Orgeron heads into his third full season with a top 10 team coming off the program’s first 10-win season since 2013.

“I believe last year was a pivotal year,” Orgeron said Monday at the Southeastern Conference Media Days. “We’ve proven we can win.”

Aggie fans remember an irate, Gatorade-drenched Ed Orgeron leaving Kyle Field, but the Tigers did beat a trio of top 10 teams, topped by handing Georgia its first loss, last season.

“We were two plays away from being 12-1,” Orgeron said.

LSU having another successful season hinges on several things, and beating Texas A&M in Baton Rouge is a must. There’s no way Orgeron can lose the regular-season finale for a second straight season and say the program is moving forward, especially when he’s playing the Aggies at home.

“I think it’s going to mean a lot to where we go and where we’re going to stand on the season,” said Orgeron, who was at ease and flashing a warm smile as he answered questions about the A&M-LSU game and rivalry.

Eight months ago, the fiery Orgeron almost blew a gasket after a second was put back on the clock, which allowed A&M’s Quartney Davis to catch a 19-yard touchdown pass to make it 31-31. That came on the heels of Orgeron getting a congratulatory Gatorade shower by his players with 29 seconds left after a pass by A&M’s Kellen Mond was intercepted. It later was ruled that Mond’s knee was down. A&M made the most of the second chance, winning a game that was nominated for an ESPY.

“I wish we’d played them tomorrow,” said Orgeron, the Tuesday after the game.

The rematch gained more attention in April when LSU hired A&M athletic director Scott Woodward, an LSU alumnus who hired Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, who had turned down LSU, which then had to settle for promoting Orgeron, the interim at the time.

“I mean, it’s going to be one hell of a week when they come into town in Baton Rouge, I promise you that,” Orgeron said at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida, when he met the media along with Woodward.

Monday, the LSU coach and players included A&M in the same breath as Florida, Auburn and Alabama when talking about the school’s rivalry games.

“Apparently LSU has half their schedule as rivals,” said senior quarterback Joe Burrow, who started last season after transferring from Ohio State. “Texas A&M is definitely a game we’re excited for. Obviously it’s the last game of the year, so it’s a long way away. But I think just the way it ended last year, it didn’t sit well with us.”

LSU will have to live with the outcome four more months before getting a chance to do something about it.

“Obviously, we felt that we should have won that game three or four times, but that’s done,” Orgeron said. “There’s some things that we could have done better in that game, but we’re going to work very hard to fix that.”

 Robert Cessna’s email address is robert.cessna@theeeagle.com

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