Possibly we shouldn’t be stunned. Ed Orgeron promised, in any case, that issues would alternate, and the LSU trainer made positive to inform everybody a few years again, after but any other loss to Alabama:
And now, right here the Tigers are – however who anticipated, neatly, this? With SEC supremacy and most likely a lot more at stake, Alabama-LSU is in any case the entire long ago, a conflict of unbeatens, possibly extra vital than ever sooner than – and on the identical time, utterly other from anything else we’ve ever noticed from the competitors. With LSU’s radical offensive transformation, an epic showdown has morphed from possible shutouts to a likely shootout.
Flash again to 2011, 8 years in the past this weekend, the final time this sport was once this giant. A No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup performed into time beyond regulation – wholly with out touchdowns. LSU gained Nine-6 in a exhibit of stifling defenses and grinding offenses that, neatly, floor to a halt.
Come Saturday, it’s No. 1 vs. No. 1, for those who use each the Amway Coaches (Alabama) and AP polls (LSU). It’s No. 2 LSU vs. No. three Alabama consistent with the School Soccer Playoff’s variety committee. It is going to no longer be Nine-6 – except 5 mins in they’ve ignored a few further issues.
Given the mix of robust offenses and moderately suspect defenses (by means of their requirements, no less than), the Red Tide and Tigers may industry touchdowns all afternoon.
INJURY UPDATE:Alabama’s Saban says there may be ‘just right probability’ Tagovailoa performs
PLAYOFF DEBATE:Clemson should not be too anxious about No. five spot, but
If Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s ankle is OK – and that lingering query might be crucial part to all of the display – he and Joe Burrow, his LSU counterpart, may publish massive numbers and dueling Heisman moments.
Alabama is scoring 48.6 issues in step with sport, No. 2 nationally, 506.6 yards (No. eight) and seven.72 yards in step with play (No. 2). However for the Red Tide, it’s 12 months 2 with Tagovailoa within the wide-open machine, and so we’ve grown used to it.
What LSU is doing takes some being used to: Unfold formations and shotgun snaps into empty backfields, Burrow throwing landing passes to a fleet of gifted receivers at charges remarkable at school historical past.
“That is their first time to in reality open it up,” Alabama trainer Nick Saban mentioned, “and it’s paid super dividends. It indubitably options the ability gamers they’ve in an overly sure method, and the quarterback. … Those guys make a ton of explosive performs as a result of what they’ve developed to.”
The Tigers reasonable 46.eight issues (No. four nationally), 535.Nine yards (No. four) and seven.56 yards in step with play (once more, No. four). And the catalyst is Burrow, a second-year starter who leads maximum lists of Heisman applicants. Burrow ranks No. 2 nationally in passing yards (2,805, a 350.6-yard reasonable) and TDs (30). He surpassed a number of of LSU’s single-season data in October. He’s finishing virtually 79% of his passes.
Possibly it’s coincidental – or possibly no longer – however each groups have defensive problems. Alabama ranks 16th in general protection, permitting 307.five yards (although simplest 15.three issues) in step with sport; LSU ranks 23rd, permitting 315 (and 20 issues). The ones numbers aren’t horrible, however they’re a a ways cry from what we’re used to from ’Bama and LSU – they usually appear not likely to strengthen a lot Saturday.
All of it units up for one thing that may resemble a Giant 12 shootout – suppose Baker Mayfield vs. Patrick Mahomes again in 2016, Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech and all the ones issues and yards (and hisses and chuckles, too) – greater than a conventional SEC showdown.
However let’s forestall for a second. How did we get right here?
After that Nine-6 mystery in 2011, the groups rematched within the BCS nationwide championship sport, a 21-Zero Alabama win that was once the primary of 8 consecutive in opposition to LSU, and counting. (The ranking was once deceiving; there was once one landing scored, and it got here overdue within the fourth quarter – after 5 box targets.)
The Red Tide took off from there, dominating the SEC and successful 3 extra nationwide championships. And Alabama developed alongside the best way. Saban noticed the offensive wave coming. And even supposing he first of all resisted it – in 2012, he famously decried the transfer to hurry-up offenses, asking rhetorically, “Is that this what we wish soccer to be?” and seeking to push thru a rule alternate to sluggish the tempo – he ultimately adjusted his recruiting and his philosophy.
It morphed absolutely into one thing in point of fact monstrous final season, with Tagovailoa throwing the soccer with abandon, surroundings just about each faculty passing report and turning the Tide’s offense into a nearly unstoppable gadget. This season, it’s been extra of the similar: Tagovailoa and an overly gifted fleet of receivers scoring touchdowns in bulk.
And a 12 months later, however much more abruptly, LSU is doing the similar factor. This season’s transformation is in contrast to anything else now we have noticed from the Tigers’ offense.
“Completely other offensive scheme than what they’ve performed up to now,” Saban mentioned.
It took a training alternate from Les Miles to Ed Orgeron, after which it took till Orgeron’s 3rd season sooner than his promise to modify the offense got here to fruition. The items have fallen into position during the last 12 months and a part.
Burrow arrived from Ohio State as a graduate switch sooner than the 2018 season. He supplied a gradual presence at quarterback and the Tigers confirmed flashes overdue of offensive possible. However it wasn’t till Orgeron employed Joe Brady as passing sport coordinator this offseason from the NFL’s New Orleans Saints; Brady teamed with veteran offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger to totally – and in any case – open up the throttle.
“It’s the imaginative and prescient I all the time had after we took over,” Orgeron mentioned previous this season, “and we in any case were given there.”
And now they’re in any case again right here, set for a shootout, with a sound shot at dethroning Alabama.