Happy Friday, everyone. It’s the eve of the latest Game of the Century, and there is no shortage of coverage for you. Previews:
One advantage Alabama has had against LSU in recent years has been equanimity. Is it a big game? Yes. Privately, many Alabama players regard it as the biggest annual rivalry. But no one at Alabama — not the players and not Saban — flip out over it.
“Everybody wants to win,” Saban said. “It’s not about wanting to win. It’s what are you willing to do to be able to win, to be able to have the success that you need to have.”
It’s Burrow who comes into the game as the Heisman front-runner. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa is among those close behind, however an ankle injury kept him out of a 48-7 victory over Arkansas two weeks ago. He is expected to be back Saturday for a game that will severely alter the College Football Playoff picture.
“This offense has really allowed him to come to the forefront,” McElroy said of Burrow. “It requires a cerebral quarterback who is accurate and drives the ball down the field and that can diagnose pre-snap. Those are things he does on a consistent level each week.”
“It’s a unique environment. Everybody in that building is confident they’re about to kick your ass,” said Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who was Texas A&M’s offensive coordinator in 2012 when Johnny Manziel and the Aggies raced out to a three-touchdown lead and then held on to beat Alabama 29-24 in Tuscaloosa.
”You just feel the expectation of that fan base, that they’re going to dominate you. You gotta overcome that as a road opponent and just cut it loose. We got out on them 20-0, and even when you’re rolling, you know it’s coming.
”You gotta make sure guys go in there believing they have a chance to win that game.”
The current line, per SportsBetting.ag, is Alabama -6 with a total of 63.5.
The sportsbook set an early line for Saturday’s tilt, installing Alabama as an 8-point favorite with an over/under of 63. The spread down moved to -6 by last Saturday, and the game’s total had been bet up to 65.5.
LSU has a reputed high-end pass rusher in K’Lavon Chaisson, but he’s got just two sacks this season and hasn’t lived up to his first-round hype. The lack of pressure will stress LSU’s corners, a typically elite group.
“The matchup for them is going to be if they can cover them in man,” said an assistant who faced LSU this year. “They don’t play zone well, that’s what happened in the UCF game last year, and they couldn’t cover them. That’s going to be the game, if they can cover the receivers in man. I’d imagine Bama thinks they can get them out of man and soften them up in quarters like UCF did.”
LSU 38, Alabama 35
This is the year. LSU overhauled its offense for this moment: to beat Alabama for the first time since 2011 and take control of a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship. The Crimson Tide are talented, but they don’t have the same defensive juggernaut of past teams. If not now for LSU, when?
The Advocate is, of course, a Louisiana paper, and I think Wilson hits the nail on the head. There is a bit of an air of desperation this year. LSU has a chance to build a brand on national TV, but what if Alabama puts them in their place for the ninth consecutive season? What if Alabama’s veteran secondary can sufficiently hold down those receivers well enough for Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis to eat Joe Burrow alive? A big win by Alabama could change a lot of things, especially with the ridiculous haul of recruits who will be in attendance.
There is also this little factor that we have been following all week. Grant Delpit, whose ankle turn looked at least as bad as Tua’s and happened a week later, finally got a small amount of work in yesterday.
If the Houston native can’t go, Orgeron still wasn’t sharing who would play behind the two veterans.
”I’m not telling ya. Asked me twice, I’m not telling ya. Can’t tell ya.”
Orgeron did rule offensive tackle Dare Rosenthal out for the game. Rosenthal has stepped in for junior Saahdiq Charles, who has missed games at various points this year due to “coach’s decisions.”
I think the problem is that Orgeron really doesn’t want to think about who has to play against these receivers if Delpit can’t cut it. The Tigers simply don’t have a lot of secondary depth this year.
Brent will be along later with a roundtable prediction post, but I’ll give you a couple now: The game is going to be a spectacle with all of the outside noise, Alabama is going to win, and LSU fans are going to come up with conspiracy theories about the officiating and the SEC office wanting two teams in the playoff.
Saban loves him some Tua Tagovailoa.
Nick Saban: "Tua's attitude about everything that he does is so upbeat and so positive. ... Just an unbelievable, magnetic personality."— Charlie Potter (@Charlie_Potter) November 8, 2019
He does seem to have that “it” factor. Kid is going to be a marketer’s dream in the NFL.
Miller Forristall was really lucky, y’all.
“He hurt it early in the first quarter. He knew he got hit in the throat, he felt weird, he felt like his Adam’s apple was on the side of his neck. But, you know, it’s one of those things: it’s not an injury they’ve seen, so they checked him and he said, ‘I can go back in.’ So he played with it the whole game. It’s a blessing he didn’t get hit there again because he probably would’ve been getting an emergency tracheotomy on the field.
Imagine being a parent and watching them cut your kid’s throat on a football field so he could breathe. Crazy stuff.
Last, check this out right here.
Perhaps it is considering what Memphis basketball did last season in hiring Penny Hardaway, who like Sanders had only coached previously at the high school level. Hardaway went 22-14 with the Tigers in his first season and brought in the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation ahead of the 2019-20 campaign with two of the top 15 and five of the top 60 prospects in the nation.
Perhaps the idea of Sanders being a candidate is solely to grab headlines without any intention of him being a legitimate option. David Coburn, who was appointed FSU’s 12th athletic director in May, has made plenty of headlines by -- surprisingly -- publicly discussing his coaching search, including that he is unwilling to hire Meyer but is interested in Stoops as a candidate. Coburn has said he would like a hire in place by the end of November, in time to recruit ahead of the Early Signing Period in December.
I am here for Coach Prime Time.
That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.