TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — I’m quite certain there’s drinking going on here.
I heard something crazy like 30,000 LSU fans made the five-hour-plus drive from Baton Rouge to Tuscaloosa for the LSU-Alabama game, even though most of them don’t have tickets. Given the number of people I saw out there tailgating, I’m guessing a lot of Bama fans are here just for the scene — and the beverages — as well.
Welcome to the game of the week, the month, the season, the millennium — whatever you want to call it. It won’t get any better than Alabama vs. LSU or Nick Saban vs. Les Miles the rest of the season, nor probably even at bowl time. It’s difficult to imagine even the BCS title game living up to the buildup or the match-up.
These are the two best teams in the nation. By the end of the night, we might still believe they’re the two best teams in the nation (notwithstanding the fact that the loser will have one more defeat thank Oklahoma State,
Stanford and Boise State). Tonight’s winner will win the SEC West and likely be the favorites to win the conference and BCS championship games.
As I wrote in an earlier blog, it’s unfortunate that the two best teams play not only in the same conference (SEC) but the same division (West), which is why Alabama and LSU are meeting in November instead of January. And I doubt there will be a series of events that leads to a bowl rematch because I don’t think
voters in the human polls will let that happen.
There’s not much left to say about the game. But here are a few things to thing about:
– Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron doesn’t get a ton of publicity. But given that games like this often are decided by a turnover, it’s worth noting he recently went 152 straight pass attempts (over six games) without an interception. He also has completed over 68 percent of his passes on third-and-long. I bring that up because . . .
– These are the two best defenses in the nation, so chances quarterbacks from both teams will face a number of third-and-long situations. In SEC games, Alabama is No. 1 in the conference with a 55.9 third-down conversion rate and LSU is third at 41.7.
– Of all the statistics that these two teams have put up this season, these two jump out at me most: 1) LSU has trailed only 6 minutes and 33 seconds all season; 2) Neither of these teams has trailed after any quarter all season.
Both of those stats will change tonight.
That’s it for now. I’ve posted a few photos to give you a feel for the atmosphere. I’ll be here blogging live until I have to start serving the print master. And now, I turn it over to you.
By Jeff Schultz