When LSU conquered Alabama 46-41 last Nov. 9, a Baton Rouge radio personality boldly proclaimed that it was time for Nick Saban to step aside because “there is a new sheriff in town.”
Just over a year later, Saban and his No. 1 ranked unbeaten Crimson Tide will enter Death Valley as four-touchdown favorites over the “new sheriff” and his mates. Through seven games, LSU’s football team has performed more like Barney Fife than Matt Dillon while Saban and his machine roll on with vigor even when the old sheriff is afflicted with COVID-19.
Based on comparative scores, 28 points may be a low forecast for margin of victory by Alabama.
Alabama beat Auburn 42-13 while LSU lost to the War Eagles 48-11 for a differential of 66 points for Bama.
Alabama beat Texas A&M 52-24, and LSU lost to the Aggies 20-7 for a differential of 41 points for Bama.
Alabama beat Arkansas 48-7 while Arkansas lost to LSU 27-24 for a differential of 38 points for Bama.
Alabama beat Mississippi State 41-0, and LSU lost to State 44-34 for a differential of 51 points for Bama.
Alabama beat Missouri 38-19 while LSU lost to Mizzou 45-41 for a differential of 23 points for Bama.
Alabama has whipped five common foes by a margin of 219 points more than LSU has fared against the same opposition for an average differential of 43.8 points.
Saban remains the great one who got away from LSU at the end of 2004, even though he lost a defensive struggle at home in 2011 and a memorable shootout in 2019 to the Tigers.
In his five years in Baton Rouge, his teams posted a 48-16 record. In the previous five years under Gerry DiNardo, LSU was 33-24-1. Saban improved the victory total by 15 games, marking the second-best five-year turnaround in the history of the program.
The only better five-year improvement was from 1958-62 under Paul Dietzel and Charles McClendon. The Tigers were 44-11-2 during those seasons after going 21-26-5 from 1953-57 under Dietzel and Gaynell Tinsley, an enhancement of 23 wins.
At Alabama, Saban produced a 55-12 mark in his first five years from 2007-11 after the Tide was 36-27 in the previous five seasons from 2002-06. The 19-game improvement is the best in Alabama history.
Saban has twice dramatically improved SEC programs in remarkable fashion. Even at Michigan State, his Spartans were 35-24-1 from 1995-99 after posting a 27-29-1 record in the five years before his arrival. He improved that program by eight games in his five years at East Lansing.
After almost five years and 56 games at LSU, Ed Orgeron is 43-13. In the last 56 games under Les Miles, LSU was 40-16, an improvement of three games for Coach O.
Many are questioning whether LSU will win again in 2020 after another lackluster performance at College Station. The Alabama date provides an enormous opportunity for Orgeron if he can somehow pull an upset over the Red Elephants. The dreadful seven games leading up to this moment will be forgiven if Orgeron scores the triumph of the Century.
This game falls on the 50th anniversary of the 61-17 LSU victory at Tiger Stadium in 1970 over Archie Manning and Ole Miss. It was the Tigers’ first win over the Rebels since 1964 and happened before a national television audience on ABC.
With the win, LSU captured the SEC championship and advanced to the Orange Bowl. Oranges were fired with precision from the stands as Tiger fans celebrated their first undisputed league crown since 1958.
If oranges are hurled from the stands this week, it will likely be the sign of another futile performance for the new sheriff who appears to be out of bullets against the most vaunted leader in league territory.
If the score is 61-17 this week, Alabama will have achieved the same result against the Tigers as LSU did a half–century ago against the Johnny Rebs.
It was bedlam at Death Valley in 1970 after LSU exacted revenge from losing a shot at the national title in 1969. The 26-23 loss to Ole Miss on Nov. 1, 1969 proved to be McClendon’s last best chance at repeating the legend of 1958.
LSU partisans now wonder with good reason how long it will take Orgeron and Co. to return to the salad days of 2019.
Burrow is victim of the Ohio Jinx
Joe Burrow’s season-ending and perhaps career-threatening knee injury gives credence to the pitfalls of highly decorated college quarterbacks opening their NFL careers in Ohio.
Burrow was impressive in his first 10 games and proved the Cincinnati Bengals were prudent to choose him No. 1 in the 2020 Draft with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.
The parallels with his Heisman predecessor, Johnny Manziel, are becoming more compelling. Manziel was magnificent in his freshman and sophomore years at Texas A&M before his collapse as a professional quarterback in two seasons with Cleveland.
Manziel, who is four years and four days older than Burrow, is a case of a talented player in the wrong environment. After the Browns took him in the first round of the 2014 Draft, Manziel’s personal failings and NFL limitations were given a short leash. After eight starts in which he tossed for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions, it was see you later Johnny Football.
Burrow has the grit to return, but it will take time, and the Bengals must improve his protection, or he will be a sitting duck again.
For those who recall their impact on the previous decade, Manziel in 26 games in 2012-13 at Texas A&M and Burrow in 28 games in 2018-19 at LSU recorded numbers that are both heroic and stratospheric.
Burrow accounted for 91 touchdowns and 9,672 passing and rushing yards for the Tigers in 1,203 plays while Manziel produced 93 touchdowns and 9,989 passing and rushing yards on 1,208 plays for the Aggies.
Manziel completed 68.9 percent of his passes, and Burrow was accurate on 68.8 percent of his throws.
The only gap in comparative performance is that Manziel threw for 22 interceptions while Burrow was picked off only eleven times in 906 attempts.
Sports Information offices rarely publicize statistics like interceptions because of the negative perception. At Tiger Rag, we never shy from telling the truth.
Here are the most intercepted LSU quarterbacks of all-time:
1. Jamie Howard 1992-95 47
2. Tom Hodson 1986-89 40
3. Jeff Wickersham 1982-85 39
4. Josh Booty 1999-00 34
5. Alan Risher 1979-82 24
Herb Tyler 1995-98 24
7. Jarrett Lee 2008-11 21
JaMarcus Russell 2004-06 21
9. Jordan Jefferson 2008-11 20
10. Chad Loup 1990-93 19