Mickey Griffin, Special to the Advertiser
Published 11:03 a.m. CT Oct. 31, 2017 | Updated 5:14 p.m. CT Oct. 31, 2017
Alabama coach Nick Saban talks about the College Football Playoff poll coming out Tuesday.
Duane Rankin/Montgomery Advertiser
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban celebrates as he leaves the field following a win against the LSU Tigers in a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports(Photo: Derick E. Hingle, Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)
After a much needed off week, Alabama starts the final stretch run of the season.
Standing at 8-0, the Tide entertains 19th-ranked LSU on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Tigers have reeled off three straight wins after being humiliated by Troy in Baton Rouge on homecoming. The Tigers have put their season back together and seemed primed for the Tide.
One Tiger was quoted as saying “(We) need to beat up the Tide.” I don’t know if that was the right thing to say as it makes good bulletin board material.
The Vegas odds-makers don’t buy that hype either and made LSU a 21 1/2-point underdogs. Wow, when is the last time you can remember that kind of point spread in this series. I hope they know something I don’t, as that appears a big sucker bet to me.
More: Alabama promises it won’t be fooled by LSU’s ‘eye candy’
If the Tide gets by the Bengal Tigers, then it’s off to Starkville to face resurgent Mississippi State after it put a big badping on Texas A&M in College Station.
After that Alabama entertains Mercer (remember those guys, Auburn?) at home as a warmup before the Iron Bowl.
Some sports writers are barking about Alabama’s strength of schedule, which, I admit, has been average, with only three teams having a winning record, and all of those lost this past weekend.
That will change in the next month as the Crimson Tide will get a big boost facing three ranked teams before a possible showdown against No. 2 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
But hey, Alabama has fish to fry this weekend, so let’s not get ahead of things. My point is that Wisconsin is undefeated, ranked No. 5 and has not played a single ranked team.
There’s a lot of football left to be played and anything can happen as we roll into November.
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) scrambles for yardage against the LSU Tigers during the third quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports (Photo: John David Mercer, John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)
Alabama is ranked No.1 in scoring defense and total defense. It is ranked No. 5 in scoring offense at 43 points per game and LSU is No. 71 at 27.4. LSU comes as close as any team in the SEC to matching up personnel-wise with Alabama, but I think Nick Saban far exceeds LSU’s Ed Orgeron in cranial capacity.
Rosenberg wrote a comical piece in Sports Illustrated this week which stated “Saban now has two weeks to prepare for LSU’s Ed Orgeron, a man who wakes up every morning knowing there is a 10 percent chance he will lock himself in his car.”
He also added “Saban is tired of the media acting like Alabama wins the title every year when the truth is that Alabama wins the title only every other year.”
He concluded by stating “The only way to take down the Tide is to feed them actual rat poison, and even in the SEC nobody would actually do that except Auburn.”
I enjoy Rosenberg’s humor.
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AL.com columnist Kevin Scarbinsky wrote an interesting article recently badyzing the careers of Paul “Bear” Bryant and Saban. His conclusion was there was no sense debating on who was the greatest coach, but he did note one glaring, eye-popping difference in which Saban dominates Bryant.
When the Tide takes the field against LSU, it will be the 24th straight game Alabama has played at No. 1 in the AP poll. The streak started the first week of the 2016 season. Do you know how many total games Alabama played at No. 1 under Bryant? The answer is 24.
That’s right, come Saturday evening, Alabama will have played as many games at No. 1 in the past two years as it did in 25 years under Bryant.
Since Saban has been at Alabama, they have played 58 games at No.1 and stand at 52-6. Not bad, but what does all this mean? Not much, unless you like statistics.
The Top 10 experienced a big shakeup this past weekend. The Georgia Bulldogs moved to No. 2 with a blowout win over Florida, a loss so bad it resulted in Jim McElwain being ousted as head coach. He is probably the first of several SEC coaches who will be out of a job by the end of the season.
LSU running back Derrius Guice and wide receiver D.J. Chark talk about the matchup against Alabama, which has a six-game winning streak over the Tigers.
Duane Rankin/Montgomery Advertiser
Some people blame Saban’s success as a mitigating reason for these early departures. Oh well, I guess one must blame someone, right?
As a note, the Tide may benefit from the coaching change at Florida by picking up two top recruits, who initially chose the Gators over Alabama but now are looking at Tuscaloosa again. Also, Alabama picked Michigan’s pocket by flipping 4-star offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor, the No. 2 ranked center in the country. How’s that feel Jim Harbaugh? Ohio State jumped from sixth to third after staging a great fourth-quarter comeback against undefeated Penn State. I haven’t seen a total collapse like that since I bought a tent at WalMart.
Wisconsin eased up to No. 4 but the media darling Notre Dame Fighting Irish are right on their heels at No. 5.
Notre Dame can climb a poll faster than a fox squirrel, bounding five or six spots at a time, and if there is the slightest opening, expect them to be in the playoffs.
The only problem is it will cost one or possibly two Power Five conference champions a slot this year. Very unfair, but the playoffs are all about demographics and market share.
I believe one of their main goals is to prevent the SEC from having two teams in the playoffs. Their ideal scenario is a team from the north (Big Ten), the east (ACC), the South (SEC), and another team from west of the Mississippi River.
As always, a big Roll Tide to everyone and I will let you know my thoughts on the LSU game next week.