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Win streaks show how much Alabama rules SEC West

When Ed Orgeron shed the interim label and was officially introduced as LSU’s head coach two years ago, his thoughts drifted to Alabama, that hated program located 350 miles to the northeast.

“I can’t wait till the day we beat those guys,” he proclaimed.

Exactly 712 days later, Orgeron is still thirsting for that victory over the Crimson Tide after the Tigers’ latest attempt to vanquish their rival proved disastrously futile. A 29-0 loss last Saturday was LSU’s eighth consecutive defeat to Alabama, a program that has compiled impressive winning streaks against its SEC West competition.

The Tide has won 12 straight games against Arkansas and ten consecutive against Mississippi State, the nation’s No. 16 team that will visit Tuscaloosa this Saturday as a 24-point underdog.

As Nick Saban has built his dynasty in west Alabama, he’s done so by whipping up on the neighboring competition within his own division.

“We’re trying to get wins against anybody,” said safety Xavier McKinney. “We try to stay consistent. We don’t really look at it as who we’re playing and how many wins we have against a certain team. We just try to get wins against every team.”

The programs in the SEC West, however, have been victimized more than all the others. While at Alabama, Saban has compiled a 55-11 record within the division — a mark that is a testament to the Tide’s army of analysts who help build in-depth scouting reports on its annual opponents that resemble thick dossiers.

“I think when you play teams a lot you develop a sort of knowledge and experience of what they like to do,” Saban said.

That expertise becomes quite useful when things remain static at the other programs around the division.

After all, Saban never lost to Dan Mullen during his nine-year run in Starkville that ended last November when the former Mississippi State coach left for Florida.

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Saban’s file on Mullen’s teams thickened as each year passed.

The intel on Mullen’s replacement, Joe Moorhead, is not nearly as extensive.

“We’ve never played against Mississippi State’s new coaches and all that so they’re a little bit different, especially on offense,” he said. “So there’s not the cumulative effect of knowing what you’ve played against when you played against the same coach, same system for a long time…You try to develop as much history and knowledge as you possibly can.”

The detail-oriented Saban won’t rest until that goal is accomplished.

Orgeron knows. He received a copy of Alabama’s scouting report from the Tide’s 24-10 victory over the Tigers in 2017.

Orgeron saw how thorough the document was, and it alarmed him to such a degree that it led him to request LSU’s athletic department hire more football analysts.

In the end, they did nothing to help LSU beat the Tide. But at least it gave him one more clue as to why Alabama has lorded over his program and the SEC West throughout much of Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa.

Rainer Sabin is an Alabama beat writer for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @RainerSabin

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