If the actual game between Alabama and LSU is anything like its off-week buildup, then prepare for an instant classic.
James Carville was the opening act for LSU’s theater of the absurd when he accused the SEC of colluding with Alabama to give the Crimson Tide an advantage over LSU. That detachment from reality led to LSU fans raising money for a #FreeDevinWhite billboard campaign in Birmingham.
On Friday night, LSU coach Ed Orgeron crashed the Alabama party by attending Thompson High School’s 63-49 victory against Hewitt-Trussville. The game featured quarterbacks both committed to Alabama (Taulia Tagovailoa for Thompson; Paul Tyson for Hewitt-Trussville). The next day, LSU fans flew a #FreeDevinWhite airplane banner above Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field before the Florida-Georgia game.
Alabama is a 14.5-point favorite for Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge, but LSU’s sideshow antics dominated the off week. The 2011 matchup between No.1 Alabama and No.2 LSU was dubbed the “Game of the Century.” This year has given us the Week of Weirdness before No.1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0) and No.4 LSU (7-1, 4-1).
Wanna have your mind really blown, though? It didn’t take a distraction to get my attention for this game. Just a simple statistic.
Since being named the permanent head coach at LSU, Ed Orgeron’s teams are 10-3 against SEC competition. Nick Saban started 9-4 in the SEC when he took over at Alabama.
That’s right. Orgeron is off to a better start at LSU than Saban had at Alabama.
Orgeron’s winning percentage through his first 13 SEC games at LSU: 76.9.
Saban’s winning percentage through his first 13 SEC games at Alabama: 69.2.
In 2008, Saban started his second season at Alabama 5-0 in the SEC before going into LSU and defeating Les Miles’ Tigers 27-21 in overtime. Orgeron is 4-1 in the SEC this season. LSU lost to Florida, but bounced back with a 36-16 blowout of then-No.2 Georgia.
And how’s this for coincidence? In Saban’s second season, his first signature win in the SEC was a 41-30 road upset of Georgia.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to start considering Orgeron one of the nation’s best college football coaches. He has earned that distinction.
A victory against Saban’s Alabama on Saturday would make Orgeron the hottest coach in the country after starting the season on the hot seat.
This season, LSU is a more battle-tested team than Alabama, and that’s not up for debate. The Tigers are 4-1 against Top 25 teams with the most recent victory coming last Saturday against No.22 Mississippi State. Alabama has only played one ranked opponent, defeating then-No.22 Texas A&M 45-23. Texas A&M lost to Mississippi State 28-13 on Saturday.
No.1 Alabama at No.4 LSU isn’t as big as the “Game of the Century” in 2011, but it’s easily the most anticipated game so far of this college football season.
It’s early, though. This is just Monday. ESPN’s College GameDay hasn’t even rolled into Louisiana. There’s still plenty of time for more pregame craziness out of Baton Rouge.
Joseph Goodman is a columnist for the Alabama Media Group. He’s on Twitter @JoeGoodman. His All-Access live chat begins at 10 a.m every Monday morning.