LSU vs Alabama: On Legacies, Upsets and Quarterbacks

Saban’s Legacy Intact

Nick Saban’s legend has been built and confirmed repeatedly at Alabama. We saw our first glimpses of that legend when Saban was at LSU. Young college football fans take the Tigers being a consistent top ten team for granted, but Saban arrived in Baton Rouge to an SEC doormat that had racked up eight losing seasons in the previous 11 years. The rivarly with Alabama was a thing of the past and at the time a formality based solely on shared SEC West division status. LSU had not defeated the Tide in Baton Rouge since 1969.

Saban wasted no time in making a statement that things were about to change. The Tigers beat Bama in 2000, Saban’s inaugural season at LSU. LSU would soon regain prominence in the SEC with a conference title and Sugar Bowl win in 2001. The Tigers rose to the top of college football just two years later with a dominant performance over Oklahoma and a BCS Title in 2003. That didn’t take long, did it?

The football factory that now spits out double-digit win seasons and NFL talent with the best of them was in full firing mode when Saban left the keys for Les Miles in 2005. After a brief stint with the Miami Dolphins, Saban got back to legend building in Tuscaloosa in 2007. The rest may be history, but we see that history in the making every week. Alabama almost never loses; they’ve done so just seven times in six seasons. Rarely are they even challenged. When they are, you can often find purple and gold on the other sideline.

Les Miles has done a fine job of maintenance. The strength and sheer will of his personality and passion brings ridiculous talent to Baton Rouge and makes his players want to run through walls on a weekly basis. Alabama and LSU will once again line up in one of the season’s most anticipated games. Miles will stand on one sideline. Saban, in a sense, will stand on two.


Finally we get to see at least a bump in the road in Alabama’s path to another SEC and eventual BCS Title appearance. The Tide has not been challenged since they arrived in College Station in September, winning 49-42 over Texas A&M. LSU presents a similar challenge. Maybe.

The Tigers’ hopes rest on the right arm of Zack Mettenberger. That was a scary proposition a year ago. The gunslinger has since proven to be worthy of Les Miles’ confidence with a near-perfect showing in this showdown last year, putting his team in position to pull off the upset before AJ McCarron and company did what they do in a 21-17 Bama win. Despite that effort, Mettenberger’s 2012 was largely pedestrian with just 12 TD tosses. His 2013 has been spectacular in spots- see the Georgia and Ole Miss games. In Athens, Mettenberger failed to come through on the final drive, but kept the Tigers even with a Georgia offense at full strength in a 44-41 loss; throwing for 372 yards and 3 TD’s. In Oxford, Mettenberger capably led a length of the field, game-tying drive before the game was taken out of his hands.

LSU football was, and is, built on the running game. However, the ground game may need to play a supporting role this Saturday. Mettenberger must come up big, with Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr sharing the spotlight. (LSU Stat of the season: Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr, have combined for 106 pass receptions this season. No other LSU player has more than nine; no other LSU wide receiver has more than six). That’s the only way LSU has a chance. That talented trio will make some plays in the passing game, but the Tigers’ defensive deficiencies can’t be hidden against a Tide offense that has show no weaknesses since Week 1 against Virginia Tech. It will be entertaining for a while, but Bama gets rolling in the 4th quarter. Alabama 38, LSU 23.



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