Time For LSU-Alabama To Settle Things On Football Field

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Tiger Tide Rivalry More Than Football

By John Ventola

LSU will face Alabama tonight in a critical Southeastern Conference (SEC) game that will not only play a key role in deciding this season’s eventual league winner, but go a long way in determining the 2015 College Football Playoff (CFP) champion.

The tussle between the two schools has been an annual affair since 1964, the Crimson Tide leading the all-time series 49-25-5. The margin was mainly built during the tenure

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Teams Playing For Lead Position In Conference

of legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. During the past twelve seasons (including one key bowl game) LSU went on a five game winning streak, and Alabama currently enjoys a four-game winning series. The two streaks have basically evened out as LSU has won nine of the last 16 games between the two football powers.

While the games have been hotly contested, particularly during the Les Miles versus Nick Saban era, barbs and jokes have been creative and often funny. However, in the past couple of years creativity has taken a back seat as disparaging remarks about the other have risen to a vicious level. So called fans (remember fan-atical is the derivative) have gone overboard.

Tiger fans screaming “Roll Tide, around the bowl, down the hole” to make fun of a Bama cheer, or shouts of “Run Forrest Run” to make the double connection of a slow speaking former Alabama football player, can be categorized as cute. Allowing (although not officially authorized) the sale in LSU parking lots of tee shirts stating that “The Only Crimson Tide We Fear Is The One That Comes Once A Month” is not only inappropriate, it shows a crudeness, and total lack of class by the printers, buyers, and wearers of the shirts.

I have seen some equally funny and poignant cartoons by Alabamians in describing the Louisiana faithful. Some, like those of the LSU fans, teeter on the see-saw of good taste. The unveiling this week from an Alabama off campus apartment balcony of a bedsheet

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Support Your Team But Leave Crude Remarks, Attacks On Other Schools And Fans In The Trash Can!

inscribed with “Let’s Finish What Katrina Started”, shows a callous attitude to what Louisianans went through when those Alabama students were ten years old.

This blogger, an LSU alum, is not naïve enough to think there is not something probably more offensive already posted on the Tuscaloosa campus this morning by LSU fanatics. Or, something derogatory about the Tigers’ former coach and current Alabama godfather Saban in an LSU frat house or off campus apartment.  My point? It is time to reel in some of the more reckless idiots, sports is fine just as it is. No need to go beyond pulling for one’s university to do well in competitive events, supporting a school’s athletes, and appreciating the respect and sportsmanship teams show during and after each competition. Fans should be able to do the same.

LSU and Alabama, both synonymous with “rock’em sock’em” football, come into tonight’s game ranked No. 2 and No. 4 in the first CFP poll released Tuesday night. The one-loss Crimson Tide have to win to keep any hopes alive for a CFP semi-final berth, while LSU needs to win in order to remain unbeaten and not fall into a situation where they have to hope for a Bama loss during the remainder of the season.

The game sets up to showcase the bullish runs of Heisman Trophy hopeful Leonard Fournette against the defensive line and linebacking corps of Alabama. Saban will try to

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Fournette Could Take Major Step To Heisman With Outstanding Effort

keep as many players as possible in the proverbial box (at line of scrimmage) to slow down Fournette. LSU quarterback Brandon Harris will have to continue his improvement and force some of the linebackers into drop back and sideline to sideline coverages. Those gaps should provide Fournette running room, giving him space to break off large chunks of yardage if LSU’s talented offensive line is up to its task.

Alabama and LSU’s defensive backs have been vulnerable this season, allowing easy touchdowns at times. The special teams of both teams have been inconsistent, forcing a shuffling of players to come up with better coverage and tackle performers. Defensive back play and special team play could very well decide the game.

Alabama has won the last four meetings after losing 9-6 in a battle of unbeatens at Tuscaloosa in November, 2011. Two months later the Crimson Tide embarrassed a poorly prepared Tiger squad 21-0 to capture the year’s BCS title. Saban basically outcoached Miles to win that game, and the last two games in Tiger Stadium, 21-17 in 2012 when the Tigers only needed one first down to clinch the game and became too conservative; and 20-13 in overtime last year when Miles again reverted to “try not to lose” execution instead of a go for the win mentality. In that game, Bama drove the length of the field in the final minute to tie the game with no timeouts because Tiger defenders could not tackle receivers or a scrambling quarterback inbounds.

Alabama prevailed 38-17 in the last Tuscaloosa matchup in 2013. Oddly, home field advantage has not proved to be that great of a benefit in the series. Between 1971 and

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Home Field Has Not Always Proved Advantageous

1999, Alabama’s record in Tiger Stadium was an unbelievable 14-0-1, the Tigers able to walk through their north end zone tunnel in 1985 with a 14-14 tie. On the other hand, between 1982 and 2007, LSU bested the Crimson Tide ten of the thirteen times they faced in Alabama (after losing the last three matchups in Birmingham’s Legion Field, ’82, ’84,’86, Alabama moved the game to campus in ’88).

The mere mention of LSU-Alabama football brings back a lot of memories for this blogger. As a ten-year-old I can still vividly remember listening on radio as J.C. Politz described that a section of end zone stands in Mobile’s Ladd Stadium (now Ladd-Peebles) had collapsed during the 1958 game. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt. It was a contest early in the Tigers’ 11-game unbeaten season that resulted in LSU’s first national championship, but the game marked the first time LSU faced Bear Bryant as Alabama coach.

Already a five-year veteran of Tiger Stadium (advantage of being an only child), I knew about Bryant because of his Texas A & M squads that he brought to Baton Rouge, including Springhill, Louisiana native and Heisman Trophy winner John David Crow. Bryant was in his first year at his alma mater, but his undermanned unit played a spunky game before losing to Billy Cannon and Paul Dietzel’s Tigers 13-3.

Years later, I looked back and thought that Bryant came into the then 12 team SEC (including Georgia Tech and Tulane) and cast too big of a shadow. After that 13-3 loss in 1958, LSU did not play Alabama again until 1964. Joe Willie Namath, Kenny Stabler, and other All-Americans were buying into the gospel preached by the Bear. LSU third year coach, Charlie McClendon, was a choirboy of Bryant’s, having played for him at Kentucky before Bryant took the Aggie job. McClendon compiled a 2-14 record against Bryant and Alabama, winning only in 1969 and 1970.

Better memories include a hard fought LSU loss in Mac’s last attempt to beat his old

LSU

Great Tiger-Tide Memories In Tiger Stadium, Birmingham, And Tuscaloosa

mentor (1979 in the rain in Tiger Stadium, 3-0); Dalton Hilliard leading a 20-10 upset for Coach Jerry Stovall in Birmingham in 1982; David Browndyke kicking a 34-yard field goal with 28 seconds left to win the first matchup in Tuscaloosa, 19-18, in 1988; Curly Hallman—yes, Curly—able to gather a team for one night in 1993 to beat a 25-point favorite and break up the unbeaten season and snap a 31-game winning streak by the defending national champions of Gene Stallings; and JaMarcus Russell’s overtime touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe to beat the Tide in 2005 (helped soothe some of the Katrina pain).

Nick, well Nick has been on both sides as we all know. He brought Tiger faithful their first home victory since 1969 when Josh Booty threw four touchdown passed in 2000. He would post a 4-1 record against Alabama, his 2002 team losing horribly 31-0.

Head to head, Miles has won three of nine games against Saban. Miles won the two years Saban took his professional sabbatical, giving him a 5-6 overall record against Alabama.

Each team had two weeks to prepare. Game plans have been made, insults have been hurled, and it is now football time in the Deep South. LSU versus Alabama, it doesn’t get much better than that.

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