Happy Monday, everyone. After breezing through the first seven games on the schedule, the Tide will finally play a game that draws some national intrigue. As expected, ESPN College GameDay will be in attendance, and by the 7pm kickoff those crazy coonasses are going to be all liquored up and ready to scream until they puke. As old friend Marq Burnett writes for Saturday Down South, that is the sole reason that anyone gives the Tigers a chance this weekend. A few previews for you:
The Tigers are also dead last in the SEC in yards per play, averaging 5.33, which might be the most damning stat of all. Alabama leads the league at 8.3 yards per play (that was No. 2 in the country behind Oklahoma’s 8.69 entering Saturday). The Crimson Tide is the only team in the SEC above 8 yards per play.
Expecting LSU to win this game is expecting the Tigers to become something they’re not or expecting Alabama’s offense to not show up. Neither is likely to happen.
Statistically, it’s a bit of a mismatch.
The Tigers (7-1) have the nation’s 87th-best offense that includes the No. 102 passing game. They are better on defense (No. 22 in yardage allowed) and is tied for the national lead with 14 interceptions. That matches up with Alabama’s No. 5 passing offense and a starting quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa who hasn’t thrown a pick all season.
14.5 – The point spread in Saturday’s game
Alabama is a heavy favorite again, but this weekend’s 14.5 spread is the biggest home underdog that LSU has been since 1999/2001.
24-10 – Last year’s score
A pair of touchdowns by Alabama starting quarterback Jalen Hurts lifted the Tide over LSU. Hurts finished 11-of-24 through the air with 227 total yards. LSU’s Danny Etling was just 12-of-26 for 137 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
That’s really it in a nutshell. If not for the rankings and location, this spread would probably be closer to 20. LSU has a patchwork offensive line that has graded out among the worst in the power five, a starting QB who is nothing more than decent, pretty good offensive skill talent, and a top ten defense that isn’t quite as good as their fans would have you believe. The fans are understandably hungry for this win and trying to will themselves to believe that the home field is going to be the difference but I suspect that, deep down, they know better. The leaders on this Alabama team have played in hostile environments and on the biggest stages. If anything, they will probably enjoy giving it back a bit. Screaming obscenities really ain’t all that scary, y’all.
Then, of course, we have the Devin White situation.
This is the main event — a top-five showdown that is the biggest game at Tiger Stadium since the last time Alabama visited. The Tigers have allowed just 14 points per game at home this season, but Devin White won’t play in the first half. Will that allow the Crimson Tide to throw another early knockout punch with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa?
If Alabama is up 31-10 going into the half as they may well be, the LSU folks will go to their graves swearing that White was worth every one of those 21 points. They have gone completely off the rails at this point with the conspiracy bit, as evidenced by the cesspool that is TigerDroppings picking up on Erik’s post about LSU getting all the calls. One of them actually typed this:
The officials know that in order to make the numbers look right they have to call penalties against Alabama that at least meets the average for the SEC. So what do they do? In the games where Alabama is already got the game won and are way ahead, they start flagging Alabama for things. At that point it doesn’t matter but it makes the stat line even out. This way all the mouth breathers can point to the stat line and say, “See! SEE! We DO call penalties against Alabama! More even, in fact!”
Sure, that site is a collection of crazies, but we’re hearing this stuff from all corners. As the Lafayette Daily Advertiser’s Glenn Guilbeau notes, however, this behavior is nothing new.
Before Saban arrived at Alabama, LSU fans and media cried conspiracy over Auburn getting calls against LSU. When 10-2 Texas A&M got the Cotton Bowl and 10-2 LSU landed in the Chick-fil-A in the 2012 season, LSU fans cried conspiracy because the Tigers beat the Aggies at A&M that year. But there was no conspiracy. The Cotton Bowl wanted an exciting offense — as bowls are wont to want — and a quarterback named Johnny Manziel, who had just won the Heisman. A loss to LSU in October didn’t matter.
There is no Crimson Conspiracy. There is only a Conspiracy of Dunces.
At the moment and for most of the last decade or so, Alabama with Nick Saban was and is just better than LSU and everyone else. Period.
This might be the smartest thing we will read from a Louisiana writer all week. Seriously, Cajuns, y’all are embarrassing yourselves.
SEC Shorts seized the opportunity to poke fun at the LSU partisans:
Had to tweet that to embed it because they apparently have a deal with SEC network/ESPN now and their platform doesn’t allow us to embed here. Good for them though, their work deserves it.
In case you’re interested in the rest of the SEC point spreads this weekend, AL.com has you covered.
Texas A&M at Auburn (-4.5), noon ET
South Carolina at Ole Miss (-2.5), noon ET
Georgia (-12) at Kentucky, 3:30 p.m. ET
Missouri at Florida (-6.5), 4 p.m. ET
Charlotte at Tennessee (-21.5), 4 p.m. ET
Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State (-21.5), 7:30 p.m. ET
Alabama (-14.5) at LSU, 8 p.m. ET
The “other” game of the week is obviously UGA at Kentucky for the SEC East division title. UGA had its “get right” game against Florida.
The contender I haven’t mentioned in this column is Alabama, because the Crimson Tide have been right since the season kicked off. Perhaps LSU can change that this week, but until we see Alabama play a game that’s in doubt in the second half, the Tide remain the standard. But it’s a long season. Perhaps, before all is said and done, one of these teams that has learned something and gotten right can give Alabama a game.
“Teams are getting better,” Georgia quarterback Fromm said Saturday night. “We still haven’t played our best football yet, either. We still have that in the back of our heads. When we play our best game, it’s going to be scary.”
If Alabama wins on Saturday as they should, both divisions will be clinched on November 3. That kind of takes the drama out of things, doesn’t it? Alabama has made a habit out of avoiding drama all season.
This Week – Alabama vs. LSU, Saturday night in Baton Rouge. There will be hype stacked atop the hype.
But what if – go with us here – the SEC is Alabama, then a large gap, and then a collection of decent to good teams? Because it sure looks that way.
Of course, that might also be true of Alabama’s relationship to all of college football. With the potential exception of Clemson. Oh, and of Michigan’s defense and Oklahoma’s offense (which, we checked, cannot be combined; sadly, the rules won’t allow for midseason mergers).
That last matchup would be intriguing.
Hey, let’s talk about the linebackers.
Much like the defensive line and outside linebackers, some depth would be a big help to this group. Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses have taken the brunt of the load this season. Wilson rarely leaves the field while the starters are in and Moses also has a role as a third-down pass rusher. The inside linebackers took a step forward in the last two weeks against Missouri and Tennessee. Maintaining that level of consistency would continue to improve their grade.
In the last 10 years, LSU has managed to sign two-thirds of the Louisiana high school players who were ranked among the nation’s top 100 prospects.
But those who got away all stung to some degree.
The ones from Baton Rouge stung more.
The ones who went to Alabama stung even more.
And then there’s Dylan Moses.
This was surprisingly an area of concern earlier in the season as new leader Mack Wilson and new starter Moses struggled a bit in communication, but they seem to have studied the film and figured it out. You can bet that LSU fans will be especially vitriolic toward Moses on Saturday night.
Last, the Redskins are enjoying some of Saban’s influence through their Alabama alumni.
“You have to get used to learning how to win,” he says. “I feel we are starting to do that. You’re seeing it in us winning games that we might not have won.”
Pressed about how a team learns to win, Allen replies: “It’s just consistency and expectation. It’s the process.”
And that comes from Alabama?
“Yes, 100 percent!” Allen says. “That’s where I learned it from.”
Allen is every bit the leader we would have expected him to be. The Redskins defense sacked Eli Manning seven times yesterday.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.