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LSU senior linebacker Damone Clark did his best Joe Namath imitation over the weekend.
Different stakes for sure as Namath guaranteed a victory for his New York Jets over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in Miami during a speaking engagement at the Miami Touchdown Club in 1969.
“We’re going to win the game. I guarantee it,” Namath said. And three days later, the 18-point underdog Jets won 16-7. Namath said he was angered by a Colts fan in the crowd bragging that the Jets didn’t have a chance.
LSU (5-6, 2-5 SEC) is a 6.5-point underdog by FanDuel to the No. 16 Aggies (8-3, 4-3 SEC).
Clark was not at a speaking engagement, and no one was bragging about Texas A&M. He was being interviewed by reporters after LSU defeated Louisiana-Monroe 27-14 on Saturday. And one of them began a question by saying, “If you beat Texas A&M…”
Clark cut him off.
“Oh, we’re going to beat Texas A&M,” Clark said. “We’re going to beat them.”
It will be the Tigers’ final regular season game and could be the last hurrah for Coach Ed Orgeron, who in October was fired effective at the end of the season after a 3-3 start. Should LSU reach a bowl, Orgeron may coach in that.
“I’m just grateful for the opportunity Coach O gave me,” Clark said. “When he came to my house to recruit me and everything he said, it came true. And I’m just forever grateful for everything he did for me.”
LSU won the national championship in the 2019 season at 15-0.
Orgeron is as fired up to beat the Aggies as is Clark and the rest of the Tigers.
“Oh yeah, I told them after the game already,” he said. “I took off my shirt after the game. I usually wait until before the game. I’m so excited about this game, I took off my shirt after last game. So we’re going to be pumped up. We’re going to be ready to go.”
LSU and Texas A&M have had quite a rivalry since Orgeron became coach in the 2016 season. There was a fight after the Aggies beat visiting LSU 74-72 in seven overtimes in 2018. LSU avenged that loss with a 50-7 win in 2019, and the Aggies won last year, 20-7.
“This is about A&M,” Orgeron said. “And all respect for them. They’ve got great players. They’ve got great coaches. This is not like a love-hate deal. It’s a respect deal. This is LSU-Texas A&M.”
Orgeron sounded like a coach about to leave when asked to confirm a report by Rivals.com and then other outlets that sophomore cornerback Eli Ricks planned to enter the NCAA transfer portal.
“I have not talked to Eli. I haven’t talked to his mom,” Orgeron said and sounded disinterested. “I heard the same reports. I guess they’re true. I don’t know if they are or not.”
Ricks of IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL signed with LSU’s class of 2020 as the No. 1 cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com and the No. 6 player overall. He previously played at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, California. He was a freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America in 2020 after intercepting four passes and returning two for touchdowns.
After injuring his shoulder at Kentucky this season, Ricks had surgery and was lost for the season. In six games, he had 11 tackles with an interception.