As the final seconds ticked off the clock Saturday night in Baton Rouge and thousands of drunken, potty-mouthed pagans made their way to the exits, one thing was clear.
LSU played one heck of a game, taking advantage of the week off to heal and prepare for another epic showdown with ‘Bama. But that wasn’t it.
“Simple” Zach Mettenberger did his best Stephen Garcia impression, playing the game of his life (at least for one game). But that wasn’t it.
Les Miles’ gambling ways have returned, even though every one of them backfired. But that wasn’t it.
What was clear was, order has been restored in the SEC West, and LSU ain’t the top banana their rabid, touched fanbase thinks they are–even though their banana-like uni’s make them look the part.
With the win Alabama head coach Nick Saban established himself as the alpha male in the LSU-Alabama rivalry once again. While at Bama, Nick is now 4-3 against his old school. Though I invite you to take into consideration that Saban’s first loss to Les came in his first year at Bama and Miles’ fourth at LSU. 2007 was hardly a Nick Saban-stamped team, and Miles ’07 team won it all.
For years LSU fans have been trying to convince themselves that Les Miles is just as good as Nick Saban. After all, he won a title.
But the comparison has been hard to watch. It’s like the guy whose hot wife leaves him for greener pastures. He remarries a pretty but slightly less-than-hot replacement, then wakes up to find his smokin’ ex has moved in with her new beau two doors down. The rest of his life he tries to convince himself that what he has now is just as good. But everyone knows the truth.
Well Saturday night, LSU fans met the truth yet again. The atmosphere was frenzied. The scene was perfect. The sky was dark. And the momentum was suffocating.
But at the perfect time, Nick Saban and company dialed up the perfect play to sink a crimson fleur-de-lis deep into the heart of every painted up, liquored up LSU fan in Tiger Stadium.
Don’t get me wrong. LSU’s defense was unreal. And their offense played out of their minds most of the night.
But at the end of both halves, Miles dialed his defense back, opting for a partial version of the prevent. Two fateful plays would ultimately determine the game’s outcome.
The first, a five wide, empty backfield set for Bama, leaving the middle of the field as open and free as a hillside in the Sound Of Music. There wasn’t a yellow hat anywhere near to prevent the somewhat gimpy AJ McCarron from walking to paydirt.
The second a called blitz dialed up at precisely the wrong time.
There is no better time for a running back screen than when the defense blitzes. By the time the back has the ball in his hands, the linebackers are behind him and it’s a numbers game to the finish.
And on this night, when Miles chose to gamble, he lost every time.
Miles’ decisions throughout the night were telling. He felt he had to gamble to win. Saban’s decisions were equally telling. Stay the course and the outcome will take care of itself.
Had TJ Yeldon not fumbled late in the third quarter, the destined 21-10 lead would have likely ended the county fair-like charade LSU had managed to manufacture most of the night.
Instead, the fumble threw gas on the fire, sending “the place opponents’ dreams come to die” into overdrive.
But in the end, it was the ex living two doors down that proved yet again that as much as you try to talk yourself into it, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
What LSU has is a grass eating, ear picking, riddle-spouting goof who is at the helm of a mighty program that will never win another championship while he is there.
What Alabama has is Nick Freaking Saban. And what it will likely have in a little over 60 days is another date to bring home yet another crystal trophy.
Two wins out of three in the last 363 days…both coming inside the parishes of Louisiana.
One program, led by the greatest coach of our time continues to dominate the landscape of college football, while the other…like its fans…continues to play dress up.