In 2011’s Week 10, #1 LSU beat #2 Alabama. The beautifully ugly game came down to the Tigers flushing a 26-yard field goal in overtime in Tuscaloosa.
“I would be honored to face that team again,” Les Miles told CBS’ Tracy Wolfson on the field immediately afterward.
Miles was indeed honored in the BCS Championship, which Alabama won 21-0.
That started an eight-game Tide winning streak against LSU that extends to now, as Bama and LSU get ready to play what might be their second Game of the Century of the decade. (That billing traditionally goes to 1-versus-2 regular season games, and we’ll see if this one does that, but it’ll be a huge deal either way.)
The intervening years have allowed us to develop a guide to the most sacred of college football tasks: convincing ourselves as fans of this sport that LSU will be our bulwark against another Bama title. You don’t have to be an LSU fan to follow these steps and get into the proper frame of mind.
1. In February, examine the recruiting rankings and quickly conclude LSU will be the only team on Bama’s schedule that can hack it athletically.
This is usually true! LSU is an eternal Blue-Chip Ratio team and typically sits in the top six or seven of recruiting rankings. The Tigers always have elite athletes at skill positions and all over the secondary, meaning they shouldn’t get dusted by Bama’s brigade of 4.4 first-rounders. If nothing else, we know LSU’s raw athleticism is usually comparable to Bama’s.
2. Pick one of the seven assistant coaches Bama lost the year before, and ponder how that guy was the true brains behind this operation. Or pick one who stayed and think the opposite about that guy.
Tell yourself that either Steve Sarkisian was the glue holding it all together or the real problem all along, depending on whether he currently works for Nick Saban or not.
3. In April, note Alabama loses basically a whole starting 11 of NFL picks from last year’s game.
Yes, LSU also lost that many future pros, but those guys weren’t good enough to beat Bama anyway.
4. At some point in the offseason, notice LSU will be coming off a bye week.
“So will Bama,” you notice. Doesn’t matter.
5. Note how close previous meetings between the teams have been.
2012 was a four-point game! LSU led with a minute and a half left. From 2013 to ‘16, Bama never led by more than a field goal at halftime.
2017 and 2018 are a limited sample size, so don’t be a hater.
6. After Week 1, convince yourself: “This is not gonna be the same LSU offense Bama’s seen before.”
It’s going to be different this year. LSU’s coach has been saying so all along, and those 30ish points they scored in Week 1 against a decent team only bolster this point. (Their 16-14 loss to Wisconsin in Week 1 was also a small sample size and says nothing about how Bama shut them out a few months later, so again, don’t be a hater.)
In 2019, LSU’s offense was actually different. All years before that, it was not.
7. “LSU’s head coach has a big personality. He’s going to have the guys really fired up, and he’ll probably have a trick or two up his sleeve.”
Is that a fake field goal? Is it a really folksy pregame interview with CBS? We’ll find out together.
8. “Yes, Bama’s defense is great, but if anyone can move the ball on the ground against that front, it’s [insert LSU running back here].”
There’s no more powerful runner in the country than Jeremy Hill/Leonard Fournette/Derrius Guice/etc. Yes, Bama’s defense is good, and yes, there’s evidence LSU’s offensive line will not be able to get any forward push whatsoever. But Hill/Fournette/Guice/etc. is good.
9. Hone in very closely on the triple-option team that got nearly five yards per carry against Bama (in a blowout loss).
Do you remember how goddamn pissed Saban was? If that little team could move the rock at will on these guys, so can Hill/Fournette/Guice/etc. NOTE: If Alabama has played no triple-option team, focus instead on the SEC opponent that kept things closer than they should have been.
10. “If it comes down to the kicking game, Bama’s in trouble.”
It’s not going to come down to the kicking game. But remember that time it did?
11. Explain to yourself that Bama’s schedule to this point has been trash, ignoring whichever pretty good team Bama beat by 35 in Week 1.
That team Bama thrashed at a neutral site to start the season has been terrible since facing Bama, possibly because Bama broke them, but disregard that.
That FCS/C-USA cupcake Bama beat by six touchdowns after that? Who even schedules teams like that? Well, everybody does, but what’s Bama proved?
That win against [middling SEC West team] a few weeks ago in which Bama briefly looked like it might be in mild danger of losing? A sign of weakness LSU can exploit for the good of the country.
12. Intensely over-scrutinize Bama’s few, relatively insignificant flaws.
“Wow, a sophomore five-star linebacker is playing instead of a junior five-star linebacker. This is really gonna test their depth! Saban says ‘we can’t just shit out another player whenever we need one,’ and we have to take that seriously despite years of evidence that Alabama always has another player, even though that player was indeed not shat.”
Or maybe Bama’s starting left guard is suspended. In that case:
“Well, he’s not the starter any more, but he started the first few games, and he’s since been a veteran presence for the younger, higher-rated recruit who’s playing over him. What’s the youngster gonna do without his guidance? Oh, he’ll be on the sideline anyway? Let’s move on.”
13. Listen to ‘Callin’ Baton Rouge’ on repeat for an hour
It’s biologically impossible to hear Garth Brooks say these words ...
Operator won’t you put me on through
I gotta’ send my love down to Baton Rouge
Hurry up won’t you put her on the line
I gotta’ talk to the girl just one more time
... and then pick against the Tigers. It cannot be done.
What was the score of the game after that video was shot? Irrelevant.
14. Watch LSU’s annual pre-Bama hype video, and declare yourself ready to run through five brick walls.
These are amazing each year. Most of them are still on the internet, so you can watch prior years’ videos to really rev yourself into high gear. Take 2012’s:
Or 2015’s, a personal favorite:
But the best of all might be 2016’s:
Tonight, Bama dines in hell.
15. Pound whiskey while remembering all the time you’ve spent in Death Valley at night.
Is the game in Tuscaloosa? Then remember November 2011.
Is the game during the day? Well, then LSU’s players will be extra pissed. Bama is done for.
16. The game is kicking late, and some other ranked team already lost to a lower-ranked or unranked opponent today.
IT’S FUCKIN’ BLOOD WEEK. GO TIGAHS.
17. Remember that past results have no bearing on future outcomes.
Notre Dame beat Navy 43 times, and then the Midshipmen went to South Bend in 2007 and won in triple overtime. Florida went 31 years without losing to Kentucky; the Wildcats still beat the Gators in 2018, running for 303 yards in the Swamp. The past is only a burden if you allow it to become one. Every LSU-Bama game will start with zeroes in every column for both teams, and nothing about the year prior or the year before that or the year before that will actually help Alabama on the field for those four quarters.
18. Bama’s players are worrying about eating media RAT POISON ...
... but they should be more worried about themselves being eaten. TIGER BAIT.