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My name is Eric. My love of and loyalty to the University of Alabama football team is unparalleled and completely inappropriate. I hate all other teams, and wish them peril. Also, you can hear my music at www.reverbnation.com/EricBlackerby or www.youtube.com/EricBlackerbyMusic

Monday, October 29, 2012

Alabama-LSU game. My thoughts, predictions, and some history

The first game between Alabama and LSU was played in 1895. LSU won that first matchup in Death Valley, 12-6. So it goes back a long way.

We didn't start playing each other annually though until 1964.

In 1969, LSU beat Bama in Death Valley 20-15. It would be the last time they would beat Alabama in their home stadium for 31 years.

In 1999, LSU struggled to a 3-8 record. They were AWFUL that year. They lost to Auburn 41-7 that year. They lost to Kentucky 31-5 that year. They lost to Houston and Ole Miss. Imagine that now. Crazy, right?

Enter Nick Saban.

In 2000, in his first year at LSU, Saban coached them up to an 8-4 record. Those 8 wins included a 30-28 win over Alabama on Nov 4. On CBS. In Death Valley. LSU hadn't beaten Bama at HOME since 1969, and Saban got it done in his first year. They beat us again the next year before we knocked that smartass grin off Saban's face in a 31-0 beatdown in 2002. God, I hated Saban then. Crazy.

Saban again beat Alabama as the LSU coach in 2004, in Death Valley, making him 2-1 against Bama in Tiger Stadium after LSU hadn't won there in 31 years.

When Saban arrived at Bama in 2007, Alabama hadn't beaten LSU since that 31-0 game in 2002. And they lost to LSU in his first year, barely, at the end, and watched LSU go on to win a second national title in 4 years. Amazing, the program that Saban built LSU into in this past decade after they hadn't done much, really ever. If you ask me, LSU is STILL benefiting from the fact that Saban went there 12 years ago. If Saban were to leave Bama after this year, who believes we would just immediately fall off the map next year? Nobody. Any dipshit could coach Bama to 10 win seasons for the next 5 years if Saban left now. That's the kinda programs he builds.

Everyone remembers The Game Of The Century last November. Both teams had completely dominated everyone else up to that point in the season, and were ranked 1 and 2. It was a highly anticipated clash of the titans. It was an absolute dud. 

Saban went ultra conservative, didn't deviate too much from the plan of just running Trent Richardson up the middle, and got us into FG position 7 times. Bama went down the field fairly easily for the entire game, only to stall at that point and end up having to kick FG's. And we only made 2 of those FG's. So we lost 9-6 in overtime. LSU only got down the field on us a couple times throughout that entire game, but they made both of their FG attempts and so they tied us at the end of the game and then won it when we missed another FG in overtime. 

That first clash of the titans was a dud, as Bama's offense didn't play up to it's capabilities, despite the outstanding effort of the defense. 

When Bama got a rematch in the BCS National Championship Game in January, LSU's fate was all but sealed. You don't play a team like Bama the way that LSU did in November, barely squeak by due to Bama's own mistakes, and then come back and beat them again in a rematch. It rarely happens. Bama was the better team and they proved that in January. 21-0 was one of the most enjoyable games I've ever watched in my life. I've probably watched it 30 times since then. I'll have to watch it again at least once before Saturday.

All this offseason, LSU has had to think about last season and how great it was. How they went 13-0, won the SEC, against one of the toughest schedules of ALL TIME. And how it didn't matter when they had to face Bama again for the ultimate prize.

They've had the entire offseason to stew over the fact that Bama stole the whole season from them in one night.

In March, if you had asked me, I would've told you that I was predicting LSU to get their revenge on us this season and win it all this year. They had ALOT coming back. They had the Honey Badger coming back. They were barely losing anyone. They were losing their QB's Jefferson and Lee, but everyone agreed that was addition by subtraction.

Zach Mettenberger, a JUCO transfer after he didn't work out at Georgia, was supposed to come in and be the missing piece that LSU hasn't had for years, and that is an even GOOD quarterback. Mettenberger looked to be a GREAT one.

He started his career out at Georgia, a freshman in the same class as Aaron Murray. He and Murray competed for the job throughout spring and fall in 2009, before Mettenberger beat out Murray and won the starting job. Mettenberger was set to be UGA's starter as a freshman in 09, before he was arrested for raping a girl, and kicked off the team. And so Georgia went with the "backup plan", Aaron Murray.

Everyone knows how good Aaron Murray has been the past couple seasons. Everyone figured if Mettenberger beat out Aaron Murray at first, then he had to at least be THAT good, if not better.

So far this season, it looks like we all figured wrong on that one. Mettenberger has looked nothing but confused and in over his head the entire season. He's gotten sacked too many times, basically looking like he doesn't belong in the SEC.

All of that doesn't rest entirely upon his shoulders, as LSU has lost THREE of their starting offensive linemen since the season started. They lost their best lineman, LT Chris Faulk, before the season even started. They've barely been physical up front and haven't protected him much this year. Auburn was in his face all night in their game.

But it's not just the O-Line. LSU has lost at least 16 players since the SPRING GAME. That's over half a recruiting class worth of players, 20% of your scholarship players that you were expecting to have this year, that are not there now. For various reasons. Academics, arrests, injuries etc. We all know the story of the Honey Badger at this point.

So the mighty LSU team that I was expecting to see this season hasn't come to fruition. For every reason. They only scored 12 points in their narrow victory over Auburn. They only scored 6 points in their LOSS to Florida. How are they gonna beat Alabama like that? Alabama has the best defense in the nation (AGAIN), and one that is so MUCH better than Auburn's especially.

Alabama is also averaging 40 points a game this year on offense. The average score of their SEC games is 42-7 Bama. It hasn't just been the defense, as it has been in the past. It's every area of the team. Alabama has thrown for AND rushed for almost the same number of yards this season. AJ McCarron has YET to throw one single interception and he has thrown 18 touchdowns. The offensive line is the best in the country and the running game hasn't missed a beat, even without their greatest RB of ALL TIME Trent Richardson.

LSU's defensive line is probably the best area of the team but they will get cancelled out by Bama's offensive line. On the other side, Bama's defensive line and linebackers should have a field day with this patchwork line that LSU is throwing together on offense and the statue at quarterback. I expect at least 2 interceptions from Molestenberger. At least.

Bobby Hebert, an LSU legend, whose son currently plays for LSU, said on a radio show in Baton Rouge a few weeks ago that all that team cares about this year is beating Bama. That's all they want out of this season is to get revenge on Bama. They don't even care if they lose a game or two, as long as they beat Bama.

Well that kinda thinking got them ALMOST beaten by sorry ass 1-7 Auburn, and it GOT them beat against Florida.

Saturday night, in Death Valley, they are looking to make up for all that. They are looking for redemption. 

And they are not going to get it

If the Alabama team that we have seen so far this year plays the LSU team we have seen so far this year, the score could be pretty much exactly what we have seen from every other Bama game, regardless of the opponent. Bama could dominate them just in the way they dominated Mississippi St. 

One of LSU's defensive linemen said that they were going to win by being more physical than us, by "out-physicalling" us, as he put it. Good one.

I'm counting on LSU to have their act together, as important as this game is. I'm counting on a couple big plays from LSU, and I also figure that at SOME point this year, AJ McCarron has to throw a pick. I mean, he HAS to, right? This is the toughest game left on Bama's schedule, including the one the first week of December that isn't scheduled yet, and possibly the one in January if they win out.

With all that said, I think it comes down to this simple analysis:

Can LSU score 20 points on Bama? I don't think so. I don't think they SHOULD score more than 10, when you consider how they have looked so far. But I figure it to be damn near IMPOSSIBLE for them to reach 20. I'm putting their score at 13.

Can LSU possibly STOP Alabama from scoring at least 20? I don't think they should be able to keep Bama under 30, but I think they'll play up to the moment and give Bama it's best, and maybe ONLY, test of the year. 

I think it will be close at the half, but Bama will put it away in the 4th, maybe even the 3rd.

Alabama 27
LSU 13

But don't be surprised if it's a bigger beatdown than that. I won't be.

In the last 244 games, LSU has only been shutout 3 times. Only 3 times. All 3 games were against Alabama. In Louisiana. At night. 

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