Gary Danielson, who is in his 11th year as color analyst for the “SEC on CBS,” has called countless games in more than a decade of covering college football.
But he can’t think of a more “humiliating” loss than the one LSU suffered at Alabama last season.
“The numbers that have hit me are 5, 19 and 31,” Danielson said Friday, “and I think that's been tough to take for a year."
In a 30-16 victory in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide claimed its fifth straight victory over the Tigers. LSU running back Leonard Fournette’s Heisman Trophy chances were all but dashed after a 19-carry, 31-yard performance against Alabama.
Danielson, along with play-by-play man Verne Lundquist, will call the matchup between No. 15 LSU (5-2, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) and No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0) in prime time Saturday for the sixth straight year.
Danielson said the theme of this rivalry in previous years has been Alabama coach Nick Saban’s impact since he left LSU and later became the Crimson Tide coach. This year is different.
Tigers interim coach Ed Orgeron, who replaced Les Miles midseason, and the Alabama blowout last year have created different storylines.
“They want redemption,” Danielson said. “There's no doubt in my mind that, when you get that type of defeat on national television, the team is really motivated. The fact that they're really going to bat for their coach is another factor.”
Despite LSU’s 2-2 start, ESPN "College GameDay" host Rece Davis believes the Tigers are still in position to make a run to the College Football Playoff with a win against the Crimson Tide.
“If LSU wins this game, we're not that far away from having a two-loss team in the playoff,” Davis said Friday. “And LSU would set itself up to be at least within shouting distance of making that type of run, albeit certainly against a very difficult closing schedule."
Despite Fournette missing three games with a lingering ankle injury, "College GameDay" analyst Desmond Howard said not to rule Fournette out. Fournette returned from a two-game absence against Ole Miss on Oct. 22 and set the school single-game rushing record with 284 yards on just 16 carries.
“What he did against Ole Miss, to me, he's in the Heisman race. He has to be,” Howard said. “People said, 'Well, he missed three games.’ I said, 'To hell with that. Tom Brady missed four games. You look at the odds right now: Who's favored to win MVP of the NFL?’ If your performance warrants you being in that conversation, then so be it.”
'GameDay' mum on guest picker
The guest picker for "College GameDay," broadcast from The Quad, will remain a mystery until at least Saturday morning.
Davis and members of ESPN's production team would not divulge the guest picker. The show weekly asks a celebrity or athlete, who typically has an affiliation with the school or city hosting the show, to make picks on Saturday’s games.
"The kids will be very excited about (the guest picker), but I don't think I'm at liberty to tell you just yet,” Davis said with a grin. "They won't just like it; they'll love it."
"Duck Dynasty" stars Willie and Jase Robertson were the guest pickers the last time "GameDay" broadcast from Baton Rouge.
The Tigers and Crimson Tide have been playing football since 1895, with Alabama hosting a 50-25-5 lead in the series. Alabama has won five straight dating to its 21-0 win in the 2012 BCS title game and seven of the past nine.
The road team has dominated the series, posting a 24-10-1 record since 1981. Alabama is 26-9-2 in Baton Rouge; the series is much closer in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, where Bama leads 20-14-1.
LSU is 2-11-1 against top-ranked teams. … LSU is 43-4 in Tiger Stadium since the start of the 2010 season, with two of the losses coming to Alabama in 2012 (21-17) and 2014 (20-13 in overtime). The other loss was last season to Arkansas (31-14). … LSU is 5-7 in games against former head coaches: 3-7 against Saban and 2-0 against Paul Dietzel.