Another draining Alabama-LSU game

By Hunter Ford

It was just another typical Alabama-LSU game; two old school football teams playing smash-mouth football to the bitter end.

Well, a bitter end for LSU.  The Tigers were hoping that a win over the Tide would give them a case to be considered for the College Football Playoff.  Now, with three losses, that dream is certainly shattered for the Bayou Bengals.

Alabama is in a much better position, although the Tide cannot afford to stumble. Alabama will face number one-ranked Mississippi State next week in Tuscaloosa.

One thing about the Alabama-LSU game over the recent years is it tends to suck the life out of Alabama.  Alabama lost to Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa in 2012 after an emotional win at Baton Rouge.  After another hard fight with LSU, Alabama struggled against Mississippi State in a win in Starkville, last year. This year’s Bulldogs will certainly be tougher, so the Tide can’t afford a poor performance.

If the Tide gets past State, it will have a scrimmage against Western Carolina before taking on a capable Auburn team that was relegated to the role of spoiler in a loss at Auburn to Texas A&M.

Alabama has been dominant in its home games this season.  The loss at Ole Miss, the close win at Arkansas, and now the LSU game, were all nailbiters.  It even struggled during the Tennessee game, at times, letting the Vols go on a run in the second half, after building a big lead.  With all three remaining regular season games being played in Tuscaloosa, I hope the “at-home domination” trend continues.

It was a nice sight to see an Alabama kicker connect on a game-saving field goal, instead of sinking the Tide with a miss. Adam Griffith did doink a short one earlier in the LSU game, but he finally came through with the biggest kick of his career since last year’s attempt at the end of the Iron Bowl.  Perhaps the monkey is finally off the back of the kicking game.

Auburn finally had its day of reckoning with the forces of luck. Perhaps that trend will continue when it visits Georgia, and a deflated three-loss Auburn squad will limp into Tuscaloosa with a confidence deficit..

I watched the classic fantasy-comedy movie The Princess Bride over the weekend. Watching the Alabama-LSU game reminded me of the life sucking torture device used on Westley in the movie.

Hopefully, Alabama won’t need a miracle pill to recover from this draining game. It still has the number one team, its biggest rival, and maybe an SEC Championship game to play before it can even think about the College Football Playoffs.

Have fun storming the castle!

 

29 Comments

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  1. 1
    The Conduit

    I’m still not convinced Alabama is the best team in the country, but they’ll certainly have their chances to prove it, and against LSU they certainly impressed me more to date despite a relative inability to run.

    Still, I don’t expect Alabama to move a single spot in the playoff committee rankings on Tuesday. The Crimson Tide will remain ranked fifth. Deal with it, because Alabama still controls its own destiny. But don’t be surprised if they stay at 5:at best they’ll move to number four.

    Finally, big props to DeAndrew White. On a night where Amari Cooper was dropping passes in the chest, White came through in a big way.

  2. 2
    finebammer

    thoughts:

    this is the second time this season Alabama, coming off a bye week, looked horrible. (especially offensively) remember when giving a Saban team extra time to prepare meant something???

    i’m starting to be worried about this Kiffin experiment. i truly believe Coach Saban loves challenges. he’s fed his challenge bug over the years by changing jobs. i think he fed it this year by CHANGING his job and bringing in Kiffin.

    i love Blake as our starter but i think Kiffin is trying to do too much with him. Blake is constantly worried about getting a play in and then setting up the offense.

    i think this is also the reason for the mental mistake penalties on offense.

    another typically crappy performance by the SEC officiating crew. i swear, Tom Ritter looks more like he belongs on a Sonic commercial than he does on a SEC football field. the last two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties called on both teams had no business being called. Refs trying to alter the outcomes of games.

    LSU’s O-line had their hands full of jerseys ALL night.

    ‘Bama’s receivers were held ALL night.

    in the end Blake’s most important play may have been lining the team up and spiking the ball on that last drive in reg. before the zebras could replay the Christion Jones catch.

    during the local post game show, Jim Dunaway referenced a call by the late, great Larry Munson, the greatest play-by-play man in college football history:

    “We were gone. I’d gave up, you did too.”

    after T. J. lost the ball (i refuse to call that a fumble) i just about did.

    but that 2012 game kept coming back. they looked so much alike. LSU pounding the ball at us. the time-of-possession decrepancy.

    and i’ll never forget after the McCarron to Yeldon touchdown for the win, the image of Blake on the bench, facing the crowd, giving it to them.

    given the chance last night, he did it again.

    RTR!

    • 3
      nope

      You’re blaming Kiffin for that?

      Look, I understand people want to try to figure out what went wrong in any football game that doesn’t have a double-digit victory margin, but on a night where even Amari Cooper was dropping balls that hit him in the chest, it’s hard to blame the OC. The plan was good, and it sounds like you’re still discounting Sims as a QB.

      I may be an Alabama homer, fine. I’m sure I’ll sound like one now, even thought I don’t think Alabama is a top-four team (yet?), but Kiffin made good calls and Blake made good throws. Yes, Sims made some imperfect throws and yes I wanted to see Alabama at least try to run the ball more, but this wasn’t a Nussmeier-esque performance by Kiffin by any stretch. If the running game was working and Alabama’s OC said to throw it 4 times from the 2-yard line, then you can blame Kiffin. The run game wasn’t working terribly well, and the passing game was productive and would have been stellar if not for several missed opportunities on big plays, not to mention many first down drops, including hitting Cooper spot-on.

      But LSU’s defense deserves credit here too.

    • 4
      Crimsonite

      Kiffin called the play to Brandon that got us to the 1 yard line in OT. Nobody else wanted to run that play cause Brandon has never caught a ball in his life. Sims over threw Cooper twice and DeAndrew once on sure TD’s. An LSU defender held Dee’s left hand so he couldn’t catch another TD pass in the end zone. This game was just inches from being a blowout, which would have changed the whole complexion of all around shitty play on offense. Our all time greatest QB and his defending National Champ team looked just exactly like shit for 59.5 minutes in Death Valley in 2012. I don’t blame anybody when we come out of that place with a win. Miss St only made it out of there with a 5 point win – and that was before LSU started playing winning football, before Auburn destroyed them 41-7. So back off on this team. This Saturday will define the season and the team. Wait and see if they deserve bitching at or not.

  3. 5
    finebammer

    “and it sounds like you’re still discounting Sims as a QB.”

    nope, you cannot go back and find one word i’ve posted on this blog that has “discounted” Blake as a QB.

    in fact, i was posting TWO WEEKS before the season started that if Coker had not established himself as the starter at that point, Blake would be the starter.

    i was ALONE in that assessment. i was also CORRECT. in the first two games when the coaching staff was refusing to name a starter, i was calling Blake the starter.

    so now that we have that misconception out of the way:

    all i’m trying to say is Blake is a FIRST YEAR starter. this is Kiffin’s FIRST YEAR HERE. how many times this season have we seen Blake looking at the sideline begging for a play and with time running down rushing to call the play sent in late???

    smarter football people than me have commented this season that our offense seems to lack an identity. Coach Saban himself at the half saturday night expressed a displeasure with the play calling. and that’s not the first time this season.

    these sideline passes Kiffin loves to call have been largely unsuccessful.

    the game at Oxford turned on the first possession in the second half where we had Ole Miss on their heels running the ball down their throat. we got inside their 25 and got cute with the play calling. we got zero points and they scored a touchdown within three plays.

    it is common knowledge in the profession that if you’re having problems with production on the field that you may be asking too much of the team and need to simplify things a bit.

    so yes, i can be concerned that Kiffin doesn’t see this without “discounting” Blake Sims ability. (which i’m “still” not doing)

    it looks like to me that, especially offensively, the team is thinking too much. with the speed of the game and the environs that they play in, you can’t think. you don’t have time.

    there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking it.

    • 6
      nope

      I apologize; I didn’t mean to sound insulting and I re-read my comment and I sounded like a total prick, I wasn’t trying to be insulting about Sims. You weren’t alone though when you said earlier this year how good he was and I was also behind Sims back then even. He’ll never truly get the credit he deserves (national title notwithstading). I know you know your stuff, I’ve seen it enough to know that, let’s start there.

      I was trying to point out that Sims isn’t seen as a strength when he’s probably more of an x-factor than just about anyone else anywhere. He really is special. His passing stats went down against LSU…but because Amari Cooper was dropping flat routes and balls in his chest? It’s not Sims’s fault, but he gets the statistical and perceptual blame. If Cooper makes those mistakes in consecutive games, I’ll start doubting if the Earth is round.

      “There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking it.”

      This, I think you hit the nail on the head.

      Think for a second about the last few title-winning Alabama teams. They weren’t good; they were spectacular. Last year, we wouldn’t really have been having serious conversations about Alabama winning a national title at this point, but the playoff makes it more pervasive. I know it’s a 4-team playoff, but I don’t think it’s unfair to look at who we otherwise would pick for a two-team title game like every season before 2014, and this year it would probably be MSU or TCU and FSU at this point, but not Alabama (even if they do control their own destiny).

      I hear you on the play-calling in the second half at Oxford, but that was also at least partially a side-effect of losing a 5-star playmaker and, more importantly, the starting center, who wasn’t asked to do much more than snap the ball well and protect Sims rather than scheme blocks and direct the line too much. The play calling got a little tricky, and being ineffective was a side effect. Don’t forget, it was 3rd and short inside the 15 when Alabama’s freshman replacement center got a falst start to make it 3rd and long. Yes, Alabama missed 2 field goals earlier, but at that point they were down by 6 and needed more than a field goal.

      I digress. Yes, Sims looked to Kiffin a lot for play changes, as he’s done all season. And they changed the plays a lot. But often it simply didn’t work at all, even if the X’s and O’s made logical sense. Sims did finally get some designed runs against LSU, but only after LSU was prepared for them and the plays netted very little production, nor were they used enough to make them a legitimate threat.

      It’s tricky though. There were many missed conversion attempts that were simply due to lack of execution on Alabama’s behalf. 6 offensive plays in the 3rd quarter doesn’t leave enough room for interpretation, but it does show LSU’s performance on both sides of the ball being relatively superior. There were a few 3-and-out’s by Alabama without a single designed run.

      Talk about a lack of identity.

      Meanwhile, MSU might not have a stellar defense, but their offense is paramount. To me, that means Alabama needs to control the ball. I agree passing the ball as much as Alabama did against LSU, even if they had been successful, seemed to make less sense than running it more frequently. But against MSU, keeping the play clock running and Alabama’s defense off the field will have to mean keeping the ball on the ground, and frankly I think that’s splendid news for Alabama.

      For example, MSU has incredible red-zone defense, but that stat largely ignores MSU has been scored on often from outside the red zone and by agruably lesser opposition including Kentucky and TAMU, and including on their home turf. I’m confused a little with the play calling against LSU, and certainly it’s hard to label Alabama with any kind of offensive identity, but we’ll definitely get to see a bigger opportunity to establish Alabama’s offensive identity this Saturday against MSU.

  4. 7
    bamabino

    I heard one of ESPN’s talking heads claiming Oregon’s road win over Utah was better than Bama’s over LSU. Pretty sure it was Herb Kurbstreet. Miles is 62-9 on his home turf. No non-conference team has a win there. Bama(2008,2012,2014) has 3 of those wins. MSU(2014), UT(2005), Arky(2007), Ole Miss(2008), Georgia(2008) and Florida(2009) have 1 each. 4 of the 9 have gone to OT. 2 others were 1-possession games. 3 of those losses came in 2008 during an 8-5 year. Toughest place to win hands down.

    • 8
      nope

      Oregon won more impressively, albeit also in a come-from-behind win.

      And intangibles won’t ever really work for the top-4 discussion, especially if you’re talking about an SEC team, and even moreso if you’re talking about Alabama.

      The rest of the country simply doesn’t want to hear about how badly Alabama beat everyone else or how many teams took a bye-week or cupcake before them, or how many teams they held to under 200 total yards (let alone under 150) or how many shut-outs Alabama had or how inspirational a story it was for a team to play the way they did all season following a devastating tornado attack like they did in the 2011 season that resulted in the playoff everyone thinks they wanted.

      I didn’t see all of the Oregon/Utah game, but I can’t forget the Alabama/LSU game. Amari Cooper dropping easy passes for starters—–unless Oregon was doing plenty of that with a WR as good as Cooper, they deserve a little bit of a nod already.

      Another problem was miscommunication. It’s certainly to be expected in Death Valley (and at night, and after a bye-week, and after a big win, and against your biggest rival, and when that rival can have its dreams shattered, et.al.), but it absolutely affected Alabama and I’m not sure how much it had to do with Oregon’s success. Sure, giant placards with “Pokemon/Baseball/Michael Chicliss/Unicorn” plays on them might be more effective in a loud and hostile environment, but that’s not Alabama’s identity; it’s Oregon’s. Amari Cooper went to block wide for Sims…when Sims was looking to throw to Cooper who never turned around. The result was a sack—-if Sims threw it, Cooper would have been hit with a offensive pass interference flag (or worse, an INT), but still.

      I will say this, though; Alabama’s defense must have performed better than Oregon’s defense, and Alabama’s defense defines their team identity as much as Oregon’s offense defines theirs. LSU tried to run the ball all night. At times they were absolutely effective, but Alabama never broke despite LSU being rested and pounding against Alabama’s d-line all night. Let’s also not forget the Utah “score” that we all saw where the player put the ball down before it was a touchdown (it interrupted the Alabama/LSU game). Talk about a momentum-buster, and at least Alabama and LSU both didn’t make a mistake like that.

      But when LSU is ranked out of the top ten in the country, people just aren’t going to hear how hard of a game it could have been. That’s not to say Oregon’s win wasn’t better. Maybe it was. But Alabama still probably won’t move in the CFP poll tomorrow night. Yes, Death Valley is almost definitely the hardest place to play in those conditions, no argument there, but Alabama will stay at 5 and get jumped by TCU who will replace Auburn’s spot.

      • 9
        Crimsonite

        No they won’t. The committee knows who Alabama is. They know who LSU is. They also know who Utah is, snicker. They saw WVU stop TCU and outplay them. Alabama will be #4, not that it even matters right now.

        • 10
          nope

          We’ll see. It will be interesting. Alabama might deserve the #4 spot, but it’s hard to say Oregon or TCU belongs behind them regardless, that’s all.

          Still, you’re right that the bottom line is none of it matters and Saturday vs MSU does.

          • 11
            Hunter Ford

            If Alabama beats the number one team Saturday, the Tide will surely jump up and be in the top four. I still can’t believe that number one team is Mississippi State!!!

          • 12
            nope

            What was it, two years ago MSU came into Tuscaloosa undefeated and with high hopes?

            They got pantsed in that one. I don’t think they’ll get pantsed Saturday, and they got to play a pillow-fight of a cupcake last weekend; while Alabama played 5 quarters of man football, MSU’s biggest starts literally played less than a quarter, some only played a single drive.

            I can’t pretend that’s not smart, but I also can’t diminish the importance of such an advantageous cupcake.

            Alabama is the best team MSU has had to play this year and vice versa.

          • 13
            Crimsonite

            Well I was wrong, which proves exactly how bogus this committee and its criteria is. TCU an xMWC team with the 36th SOS to Bama’s 4th, AND 6 turnovers away from a 40 point loss to WVU. The Committee should be disbanded for not appointing another SEC representative to replace Archie.They may get the final 4 right, but it will be because wins and losses in the next 5 weeks forces it – not because the stupid bastards know what they’re doing. Fuck ’em. I want the BCS formula to decide this. That has Bama #3 and favored just like Vegas.

          • 14
            nope

            @Crimsonite

            I look at it this way—-does TCU not deserve the 4th spot?

            It might be debatable about whether or not Alabama deserves a spot ahead of TCU or not, and while I understand giving up 60+ points and 700+ yards in any loss is borderline inexcusable, defense isn’t their idendity and they’ve been winning games handily regardless.

            I only say that because I don’t think it makes the committee a total farce. Look, if the committee didn’t release ANY poll until after the regular season, then we’d all be mad, confused, and that #5 spot would make everyone cry….even though they were never competing for the #1 spot, which IS exactly what Alabama is doing yet again.

            Think about it. How high could TCU actually go this year? I suppose it’s possible they could end up at #1, but like ANY OTHER YEAR, Alabama is vying for that top spot, and it comes down to the MSU game this Saturday. Let them fight over #4 all year long, but just remember the only reason the playoff committee releases any rankings before the season is over is to prevent everyone else from saying it was all a total surprise and they can’t be trusted. The playoff is a result of fans not being able to handle the results personally, and the playoff won’t change that responsibility regardless, ever.

            If Oregon hadn’t lost and tOSU was undefeated, or Clemson beat everyone so far, maybe Alabama would be in the 6th or 7th spot…but just like any other year they’d be competing for a spot to get into the national title picture. The playoff was created not to keep Alabama out of the LSU rematch, but to allow Oklahoma State in, remember that.

    • 15
      Crimsonite

      Actually it’s not that intimidating during the day, which is when MSU beat them earlier. Miles has lost 4 at night – 3 to Bama.

  5. 19
    nope

    The only thing that surprises me is how many Alabama fans are so upset about TCU jumping into the top four.

    Alabama’s goal is always to be number one, not number four.

    • 20
      Crimsonite

      Don’t be a stupid ass. I don’t even want Bama #1. Too much baggage. But xMWC TCU Goddamn sure doesn’t belong ahead of Bama with an equal record – EVER! They got Bitch Slapped everywhere but the final play score, by WV, a team Bama Bitch Slapped while breaking in a whole new team. Never, ever. You understand. This is a fucking team barely removed from the whole country laughing at them along with Boise State, who by the way was always the bettet team. I don’t give a fuck what happens this week or next week. I guve a fuck about stupid motherfuckers being in control of the playoff. Already this week Long and the other head dipshit have give conflicting reasons for this clusterfuck, and both reasons go against the original mandate. They are simply full of shit and have no idea what they are doing. Then multiply the clusterfuck concerning the SEC by not having Archie backing us up. Dumb stupid bastards all. And ruck Oregon too. They are the only team in the top 5 who got their ass handed to them AT HOME, by a 21 POINT DOG. You dude, stop with tje bullshit pathetic excuses and try running your mouth about something you know a little about.

      • 21
        nope

        By #1 I mean the best team in the country and therefore hopefully the national champions.

        For example, as good as Auburn may or may not have been last year, I don’t think they were the very best team in the country. Had they won the national title, it would have been hard to accept that the best team and the national title winner were the same.

        So yes, Alabama is competing for the #1 position because that’s the one that gets to claim the national championship now.

        But hey, don’t blame Alabama for the playoff. Bottom line, Alabama wants to be the very best, and every year Alabama can prove they deserve to be called as much or they can lose. I don’t get it. What, would you rather be in TCU’s position and hope the committee has bias against teams like Alabama? I don’t agree with that, that’s all I’m saying.

        If Alabama loses to MSU this Saturday, Alabama is clearly not the best team in the country. For me, that’s case closed, and I’ll enjoy watching the rest of the games, but that part of the picture will be done and it won’t really matter “how far” Alabama drops in the poll regardless. I love Alabama, yes, and while I wouldn’t mind waltzing into a national title the way Auburn almost did last year without being the best team nationwide, I’d much rather be definitive about it, and that means you either are or you aren’t. In 2011, OK State deserved a chance, but it’s impossible for me to say Alabama didn’t deserve to be crowned the best team in the nation.

        This year, beat MSU or you’re definitely not the best team nationwide. It’s that simple.

        • 22
          Crimsonite

          I think you musf be mentally challenged. You can’t seem to decide on which of your opinions you most want to try and explain and justify. Who gives a shit about #1 right now? #1 means absolutely nothing until the final 4 are selected and the playoffs are finished. What means something right now is the perception of how those 12 idiots go about selecting the 4 teams, because it won’t always be cjt and dried by w/l records. There will come the time, be it this year or next or the gear after, when these dumbasses will decide themselves, not w/l records, who plays. And me and now the majority of the nation are not happy with that thought. Not wben the dumb bastards can put TCU over Bama and Oregon over FSU. What do think would happen if these dumbasses had TCU ahead of Bama and TCU still had OU and WVU on their schedule and Bama only had Arky and possibly a 3 loss Aubie left? You want to give these dumb bastards the power to make that decision based off of theidmr current performance? Bull fucking shit! Whi’s best after the Miss St game hasn’t got a fucking thing to do with this conversation about this dumbass Committee. This is abiut, perception, bad criteria, predjudice and bad judgement. I don’t want to hear any more of your emwhiney assed – “well it doesn’t matter where TCU is because if Bama beats Miss St evrmerything will work our”. Fuck that shit. It’s not just Bama snd FSU fans. The whole country is pissed, because they know it’s wrong, because now everybody has to worry about their own team the next time, and because the Committee is full of shit.

  6. 23
    Hunter Ford

    If Alabama does win, it will be interesting to see how far Miss State drops. I mean, they have been ranked numero uno for what five weeks now? The committee gave Auburn favorable treatment until it lost a second time.

  7. 24
    The Real Truth

    If Alabama doesn’t win, it will be interesting to see how far Alabama drops. I mean, the committee has been given bama favorable treatment with only one loss, despite several close calls on the road where they haven’t looked like the 5th best team in the nation. Including last Saturday where they were lucky to get out with a win in overtime.

    • 25
      nope

      Wah.

      Wah wah.

      Wah.

      Wah wah wah wah.

      OK, there’s SOME truth in the notion that Alabama might not be in the top four, but if you’re whining about Alabama not being in the playoff, be glad that this year, just like the last several in a row, Alabama would still control its shot at a national championship game even in a two-team system. So go on, complain about it. Because if Alabama loses, what difference does it make?

      Seriously, if Alabama loses, they don’t play in the playoff. But you’ll cry conspiracy if they don’t drop more than 30 spots….against the #1-rated team in the nation? Wow, your eyes are clouded. Aren’t you the whole reason this playoff was insisted upon in the first place? Be happy with what you asked for.

    • 26
      Elite tiger

      You made the mistake of using Bama logic, and applying it to Alabama, hence the diatribe by Nope. It will be interesting to see how far the loser falls, regardless of who that is.

      • 27
        nope

        @elitetiger

        No, it won’t be interesting.

        The only people who care just how far Alabama falls if they lose is what defines those people as little brother in their cultural idendity.

        I wouldn’t even be surprised if there’s some toilet paper on some wires in Auburn should Alabama lose before Georgia welcomes Auburn to play between the hedges.

        See, you don’t care how good or bad a team actually is….if that team is Alabama. You’re blinded by your hate. It’s silly, really. But I understand it. I do. I just try deliberately to look past it.

        Looking past Alabama as anything other than big brother is something I can’t understand, however.

        So should Alabama lose to MSU this weekend, people like you will care more about how far Alabama will fall than whether or not they should be considered the best team in the country. That’s what it’s supposed to be about in the first place, and I’d be the first one to tell you Alabama isn’t the best team in the country this season if they lose to MSU. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

        Actually, wait, it probably was hard for you because it’s logical and not based almost entirely on anti-Alabama blinding rage. Still, I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here. After all, if I said MSU might be the best team in the country, you’ll suggest I’m using “gump excuses,” but the truth is, if you can look past your rage, you might get to watch and enjoy one of the best teams in the country playing in Tuscaloosa this weekend, and yes, it’s OK to accept that team might be Alabama instead of MSU, and it might be MSU no matter what.

        • 28
          Elite tiger

          You make a lot of assumptions, so we know what that makes you. If you would read my post, I said ” It will be interesting to see how far the loser falls, regardless of who that is.” So, Alabama could lose, and if so, how far do they fall. Same for MSU. It would be the first loss for them. You said Alabama is not the best team, just like me. So if you would get over your hate for Alabama, you would be better off. You must hate them, as we both think they are not the best right now. Doesn’t mean they won’t wind up the best. See how stupid it is, to make a response by inferring what someone means by what they write. When you do that, more times than not, you will be off base. Do I hate Alabama? Yes!!!! Do I think they are not the best, because of that. No!! I base it, like you, on them not being consistent. Will they wind up winning it all? Perhaps, and if they do, they will have earned it. I see the same signs for your game today, and when we played them, and if the team makes the same mistake as the fans, the outcome will be the same. Like Dennis Green said, ” They are who we thought they were, and we let them off the hook.” Here is to hoping we take care of business tonight, and you do the same, and we settle it on the field the end of this month. Winner goes on, loser goes home.

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