Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
In 2023 when LSU has just lost to Florida Box Making Institute and the Saints are quarterbacked by some failure we all hate you'll look back at football weekends like this one and wish you had savored them more.
On Saturday #6 LSU goes to #9 Georgia and on Monday night the undefeated New Orleans Saints host the undefeated Miami Dolphins. It's as close to football heaven as a weekend in the fall can get. Our excitement level should be off the charts. Yet, it has a sort of shoulder shrug feel from a huge chunk of fans. This might make me sound old and cranky but I'm just going to say it, "A huge chunk of LSU and Saints fans have been spoiled almost to the core by the last 10 years."
LSU has become so awesome, one of the unintended consequences is Tiger Stadium isn't wild and crazy during every big LSU home game. The great LSU blog, And The Valley Shook, explains it way better than I have. The mediocre old days of Gerry Dinardo and horrible black hole that was Curley Hallman are practically old wives tales to anyone under 30 years old. LSU will be good forever and 10 wins and a sweet bowl game are LSU fans birth right until they aren't.
This was an actual conversation I had with a friend who goes to all LSU games:
Me: Pretty nice win against Auburn.
Friend: It was pathetic. They just quit after halftime. Les Miles doesn't have them focused enough.
Me: Kind of hard to care when 60 percent of stadium empties when it's 21-0.
Friend: It was raining and whether or not you play hard all the time is a reflection on the coach.
Me: So what does a half empty stadium reflect about LSU fans and their commitment to the team?
Friend: Shut up. I was wet.
I can't just build a case for LSU and Saints fans being spoiled off just one conversation with a friend but compare any moment you have seen or experienced in Tiger Stadium since 2008 to when LSU hosted Georgia and Matt Mauck hit Skyler Green for the game winner in 2003 and if you tell me it's as electric you are lying.
Winning brings expectations, expectations brings entitlement, and entitlement make a two touchdown win over Auburn seem boring and unacceptable.
Saints fans aren't at the same level of spoiled of LSU fans yet mostly because we just had to eat a mouthful of 2012 without Sean Payton and the Saints aren't two touchdown favorites nine times a year.
People can be fans however they want. You want to leave at halftime; you bought the ticket so go ahead. What I'm telling you is, as football fans we are in our 'Golden Age' and we should enjoy every second because once weekends like this one stop coming around they can stop coming around for a long time. The Pittsburgh Steelers went from a playoff team in 2011 to maybe the second worst team in the NFL in 2013. The good times end a lot sooner than any of us care to admit.
It's Thursday morning and between now and Friday at 5 p.m. you should be getting exactly NO WORK done. There are way more important things to do than doing what your boss pays you to do. Could I interest you in some highlights from the 1987 LSU-Georgia game to get you fired up? Why work when you can spend seven magical minutes with Mike Archer, Mickey Guidry, Tommy Hodson, and Lee Corso? Exactly. I'll probably spend three hours Friday deciding on my pregame meal. Do I make roast beef po-boys or honey BBQ wings? I can’t wait to watch Game Day live from Athens, Georgia. My priorities are in perfect alignment.
The two biggest teams in Louisiana are in the biggest two football games of the weekend. All I'm saying is don't take weekends like this for granted. When we are in the football wilderness stuck with bad players and worse coaches you'll give almost anything for Saturdays and Mondays like these. SOAK. IT. IN.
Old guy rant over.
Rob Ryan's Big Chart of Fun: All year long I’ll be charting how the Saints defense does under Rob Ryan in certain situations. For a full explanation of how it works read this. Did you know Rob Ryan's hair has its own Twitter account and Facebook page? You bet it does. Only the 1992 Saints (28) allowed fewer points in the first three games to start a season in franchise history. Predicting that in August would have been insane. Besides the points and sacks, the best thing the Saints are doing is forcing teams into 3rd and long and then only allowing them to convert 22 percent of those situations. Injuries forced Rob Ryan to play all the young kids and the kids are all right. The scary thing to consider about the defensive line is it's really young and will only get better. I’m not talking about better in 2014; I’m talking destroying people by November. Saints fans, we may have to get reacquainted with dominant soul crushing defense. It’s a possibility and no, I have not been drinking.
Last Week: 4-1
New Orleans (-6.5) vs. Miami: The Dolphins are very much like the Saints in that they’ve won two close games, they can’t run the ball, have trouble protecting their quarterback, and they have a fierce pass rush to anchor their defense.
Since my wife is a Miami fan I watch all Dolphin games. The biggest problem Miami is going to have is keeping Ryan Tannehill upright. Playing at home against Atlanta they gave up five sacks to an up-until-then mediocre Falcon pass rush.
Whenever the Saints defense faces an average to below average offensive line at home in 2013 they are going to be very good. If the Dolphins are without Paul Soliai the Saints should be able to get their running game going.
Something tells me Sean Payton is going to have the Saints ready for one of their signature Monday Night Football beat downs. It will be an announcement to America on national TV of, “Hey America, the Saints are back and you better recognize.” I suspect my wife will not enjoy the long drive back to Houston and there will be a mad rush by fantasy football owners to claim Khiry Robinson.
Atlanta (-1.5) vs. New England: This is the very definition of a must win for the Falcons. If they lose Sunday night and the Saints win Monday the NFC South race for the Falcons is over. They aren’t overcoming a three game deficit with 12 games left.
Arizona (+3) at Tampa Bay: The Cardinals might have offensive line issues but I don’t care. I might pick Tulane against the Bucs.
Denver (-10.5) vs. Philadelphia: Can you imagine how insane the sports media would have gone if Alex Rodriguez had tried to cheat a drug test like Von Miller did? ESPN would have had Skip Bayless guest star on Outside The Lines for 24 hours a day an entire month. An NFL player does it and everybody yawns. Not sure what it means just know that’s how it is.
LSU (+3) at Georgia: My favorite part of big LSU games is Les Miles’ crazy sideline interview before the game starts. When he rambles something to Tracy Wolfson that only makes sense to him it’s like Les is doing a comedy routine but forgot to tell us. I believe more in Zack Mettenberger against the Georgia defense than I believe in Aaron Murray against LSU’s defense. How’s that for detailed analysis?
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 https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.