Hardly anyone in Baton Rouge is even paying attention to which team is coming to town this weekend, they just know that Nick Saban is coming back wearing enemy colors.
To many Tiger fans, November 8, 2008 was a date that was circled the day that it was announced that Saban was taking the job at Alabama. In fact, it was the same day that LSU would thrash Notre Dame in the ‘07 Sugar Bowl. The time is now upon us.
To add fuel to the fire, Nick Saban is also toting along the No. 1 team in the nation, the Alabama Crimson Tide. This is the same Alabama team that beat the very same Georgia team who walked away with a victory in Tiger Stadium two weeks ago.
It will be the largest crowd in Tiger Stadium’s history, it will be the loudest atmosphere in the country, and it will define a season for both teams.
For Alabama, they will try to prove that they can get through a tough SEC schedule undefeated, clinch the SEC West, and take a shot at the national title. For LSU, they will try to prove that they are still the best in the West, and salvage a disappointing season with a bid to a decent bowl game.
LSU Will Win If…
LSU Will Win If…
Jarrett Lee doesn’t throw any interceptions. Period. LSU lost to Florida fair and square, and if not for a missed extra point, Florida would be the No. 1 team in the nation. LSU gave 17 points to Georgia free of charge, but only lost by 14. If Lee wouldn’t keep throwing to the guys on the other team, LSU would still be in the hunt for the Sec West.
The LSU defense has evolved week to week, but the lack of big plays and forced turnovers have been the key ingredients missing from the type of defenses Tiger fans have grown accustomed to. LSU’s secondary is young and inexperienced and an accurate QB like John Parker Wilson will try to exploit that.
If Tyson Jackson and Rahim Alem can stop Bama’s rushing attack with Glen Coffee, as well as put enough pressure on Wilson to force him into making bad passes, they will go a long way to keeping Alabama out of the end zone.
Finally, Alabama is one of the worst second half teams in the nation. If LSU can keep the score close in the first half, they will statistically have a great chance to pull out a victory.
LSU Will Lose If…
LSU Will Lose If…
Jarrett Lee throws interceptions. Free points to a team as good as Alabama will make them impossible to beat. If Miles uses true freshman Jordan Jefferson, he will have to play mistake free as well—something that is not easy for a true freshman.
If the defense allows Alabama to make the big plays, the crowd will be taken out of the game as well as the intensity of the atmosphere. The Tigers will need to draw as much energy from this crowd as possible to beat America’s top team, and giving up big plays is the best way to turn a buzz into a headache.
If Alabama's defense manages to stop Charles Scott and LSU’s fleet of wide receivers from sneaking through the seams, it will be a long night for the Tigers. A solid rushing game will be essential to taking some of the pressure off of LSU’s troubled quarterback corps.
The elephant in the room (no pun intended) will of course be Nick Saban’s return to Baton Rouge. In all honesty, the first couple of paragraphs in this article were written for dramatic effect only. I do not count myself as one of the morons at LSU who have something personal against Nick Saban.
He was a great coach who lifted our program out of the cellar and back to national prominence. He was an excellent recruiter who’s hand picked talent has kept LSU successful since his departure.
While no intelligent person can really argue that he deserves credit for the 2007 National Championship, he did manage to pluck a few of those outstanding seniors out of prep football and bring them to Baton Rouge, and for that I am thankful.
But hey, if the “Return of the King” gets the crowd fired up like the old days, I’m all for it. I have been disappointed in the level of intensity at Tiger Stadium this season. Sure, a lot of it has to do with all the stupid daytime kickoffs, but that excuse isn’t good enough.
Imagine being so spoiled that you complain about your program being featured on national television every week. Man up and scream until your lungs explode. Aw, you didn’t have enough time to drink before the game? Get up earlier. Screwdrivers and Bloody Mary’s are your friend.
The crowd, along with Miles’ intestinal fortitude are what beat Florida last year. Without both, the Tigers won’t beat Bama this year.
This is a tough one. LSU has more depth and talent than Alabama, but Alabama is playing much better football this year. Perhaps Les Miles ought to think about hiring Mike Shula as a recruiting consultant. Right now, most Tiger fans just wish he would hire a defensive coordinator.
If Les Miles allows Gary Crowton to open up his bag of tricks and keep Alabama’s tough defense off balance, the Tigers could keep it close enough to win. It also remains to be seen if the atmosphere will be all it has been hyped to be. The only saving grace about the kickoff time is that the second half, the half when Alabama plays at their worst, will be at night.
I believe that the freshman quarterbacks will finally realize what this game means to the season and step up. I also believe that the defense will draw massive amounts of energy from the crowd and play lights out.
Sure, the sun will be up when Verne Lundquist finishes kneeling at the alter of Bama long enough to announce that the game is finally underway. And the sun will be up when the final seconds of the first half tick away and Alabama jogs in to their locker room up by one touchdown.
But in the dreaded second half, the sun will go down and the bright lights of Death Valley will highlight the electricity in the air. That’s when Alabama will turn into a pumpkin and their dreams are once again dashed by their superior foes from the bayou.