Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
I knew I had been overtaken by LSU-Alabama hype this week when I read a 500-word blog post on Tom Ritter. Who is Tom Ritter you ask? He’s the lead official in Saturday’s game silly and the official who made the horrible call on Patrick Peterson two years against the Crimson Tide. I haven’t decided whether to be like some LSU fans and call the SEC office to complain.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Internet and TV treating this game as the biggest football game in the history of history, and to think it’s only Thursday. I haven’t been this excited for an LSU game my entire life and I’m including the two national title games in the Superdome. Whenever someone asks me why I love football so much it’s because of weeks like this. This game ranks only behind the NFC Title and Super Bowl on my ‘can hardly stand it until game day arrives’ meter.
It even outranks the two LSU National championship games because deep down I never thought for a minute LSU was going to lose a national championship in the Superdome. It simply wasn’t going to happen. Call it delusional or whatever but that’s how I felt. I also had 102 fever during LSU-Ohio State and while I was excited LSU won I was also excited when the game ended and I could do shots of Nyquil and go to sleep.
Saturday is completely different. This is the greatest LSU team of our lifetime. I want history to remember them and the only way that happens is they beat Alabama. We all probably won’t live long enough to see LSU play a bigger game with as many storylines.
Nick Saban having built LSU into the football power every Tiger fan always thought it could be just adds to the game. I personally don’t hate Saban much because he built LSU, gave the Saints Drew Brees and Les Miles is way more fun to have as a coach. Saban’s teams are like an assembly line of football death. They are clinical, precise, and he seems to enjoy winning as much as I enjoy flossing.
Les Miles meanwhile says things like this; “The contact that takes place when our defense is on the field is very sincere.” There is nobody quite like him. He is one of the few big time coaches who show real joy on game day. It’s almost as if he’s playing along to the story he’s just some lucky goofball because it will make the beating his team is about to deliver even sweeter.
For those of you who love to hate Nick Saban here is my wife, a Miami Dolphin, fan to serve you some ice-cold haterade.
“Nick Saban set Miami on fire, left in 2007, and the stench still lingers. He didn’t leave any players who were even decent. He wouldn’t know a good NFL quarterback if one flew to Miami and said, “Hello coach I’m Drew Brees and I’d like to be your quarterback.”
Saban pulled the Dolphins from the water, threw us on the beach, and watched us squirm around and die. The one thing in his life that he wasn’t immediately successful at and realized was going to take years to fix he quit. HE QUIT.
When he says he wanted Drew Brees but the team doctors wouldn’t allow it I throw up. I’m supposed to believe Nick Saban who controls EVERYTHING and probably has a 30-page binder on how to serve his team breakfast couldn’t overrule the Miami medical staff? I haven’t heard a bigger lie since somebody said, “I guess I have to say it. I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.”
My lovely wife is in the process of rooting her team to 0-16 season so they can draft Andrew Luck so her hate is pure.
The winner on Saturday has a clear path to a championship while the loser gets nothing. Only in college football and its weird polls, computers, and no playoff system could a regular season game mean everything. There won’t be a rematch so the only way for these two teams to find greatness is through each other Saturday.
Last Week: 3-2
LSU Picks: 3-1
LSU (+4.5) at Alabama: I want LSU to win this game so bad I’d trade in every baseball crown, Final Four appearance, and Nick Saban’s 2004 title if it guaranteed a win. I never claimed to be rational.
Everybody has a theory about this game. It will be a defensive struggle, the quarterbacks are the key, no one runs on Alabama, no one can throw deep on LSU, etc.
LSU has to win first down on both sides of the ball. On offense if Jarrett Lee is always facing 2nd and long Nick Saban will blitz him into mistakes. On defense the Tigers want to do the exact same thing to Alabama’s AJ McCarron.
LSU has proven no stage is too big for them and trips to Dallas and Morgantown should have them ready for a crazy Alabama crowd. Nick Saban is methodical, careful, and will make the expected football decisions. Miles will have his team loose and carefree and they will find a way to win it.
If you are like me you’ve probably read and watched so much on this game you are on x and o overload.
I don’t think either of these offenses will go on 10 play 80-yard drives so the big play will be the key. The opportunity will arise three of four times for each team to get huge chunks of yards and the winner will take advantage.
The one thing I know about Les Miles is in big games he’ll decide to do the unexpected. The man called a fake punt on the first drive of his first game as LSU coach from inside his own 10-yard line. At some point Saturday Miles will decide now is the time to win the game and go all in. He will be aggressive, unconventional, and believe in his team to make the play. It might be a gadget play, a fake punt, or throwing a pass deep in LSU territory to convert a third down to kill the clock.
This game will live up to the hype so prepare accordingly by watching highlights of the 1988 game in Tuscaloosa on Youtube. LSU won 19-18 in a big play and turnover filled slugfest and they used two quarterbacks to do it (Tommy Hodson/Mickey Guidry). Looks about right for 2011 don’t you think? I have a fully stocked bar and expect to be exhausted and or drunk when this game is over.
My guess on which LSU players never have to worry about buying anything ever again within Louisiana state lines are Barkevious Mingo, Odell Beckham, and Drew Alleman.
Tampa Bay (+8.5) at New Orleans: Did you know Steven Jackson was the first running back to get 20 carries versus the Saints? It’s true. Even though the Saints run defense has been awful it would actually be worse but the Saints haven’t played from behind much. The Saints run defense is like termites; quietly destroying your really nice looking house.
When teams rush five or more against Drew Brees he is sacked every 12 pass attempts. The offensive line at least so far has been good at home. Vegas hasn’t figured out the Saints aren’t an elite team anymore and shouldn’t be a touchdown favorite over anyone. The Saints players and coaches are all saying the right things and everyone just thinks they’ll throttle the Bucs and get back on track. WRONG. I’m telling you 2011 will be a very long hard journey to 10-6.
The Saints defense is awful, their blocking is a mess, and their offense is becoming really predictable. I’ll let my friend Andrew Juge of thesaintsnation.com explain it to you.
“I think a big part of the problem is how predictable the Saints gave gotten in their sub packages. Lance Moore in the game? Pass. John Gilmore in the game? Run. Jed Collins, or an extra tackle off the edge? Run. Chris Ivory/Mark Ingram in the game? Run. Pierre Thomas in the game? Screen pass or delay. The Rams clearly did their homework. You know the Bucs will too, and they always seem to play well against Brees.”
Learn to love the ugly looking win people.
Indianapolis (+7.5) vs. Atlanta: I know either the Colts or the Dolphins are winning this week. I thought about taking them both but let’s not get crazy. The Colts have been competitive at home and if the Falcons lose here they’ll be extra desperate next week against the Saints.
San Francisco (-4) at Washington: Mike Shanahan is an awful talent evaluator. His drafts in Denver once he got full control were a lot of fail. Last year he traded multiple draft picks for Donovan McNabb and he would have done better to just light those picks on fire.
He’s like a tanner, thinner Mike Ditka.
New York Giants (+8.5) at New England: Lately Bill Belichick is the master of trading for multiple draft choices and then making horrible selections with those extra picks. The Patriots aren’t haven’t won a playoff game since 2007. Did Belichick and Tom Brady peak five years ago but we never noticed?
Chicago Bears (+8) at Philadelphia: Watching the Eagles pound on Dallas Sunday night I was so mad about my Cowboy pick because I predicted three weeks ago Philly would crawl back from 1-4 and everyone would say, “The Eagles are back!” Then they would promptly give up 200 yards rushing when people least expected it. Hello Matt Forte, I’d like to introduce you to the awful Eagles run defense.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.