Want to know the biggest reason why it’s high time LSU and Alabama play each other?
They’ve both made it clear they have no worlds to conquer except each other.
LSU has won every game by at least 13 points. Alabama has won every game by at least 16.
Both teams have exterminated their foes with extreme overkill. Cause of defeat: repeated blunt force trauma. When presented with a pebble of an opponent, the Tigers and Crimson Tide pull out enough Acme TNT to make Wile E. Coyote envious and blow a hole the size of Tiger Stadium in the smoking ground.
As overpowering as LSU and Bama have been, brute force alone won’t get the job done Saturday for either team. No, this showdown will likely hinge on the little things. The mouse that makes Alabama’s red elephant recoil in fear. The thorn in Mike VI’s big beefy paw. The glossed-over flaws that lesser teams have been too weak to crack, but which LSU and Alabama can exploit like a sand boil eating away a levee.
Gary Danielson, the CBS analyst who will call Saturday’s showdown, calls them pressure points.
“A pressure point can be established anywhere on the field,” Danielson said. “No one has been able to push these two teams. If there are cracks in the plumbing, those cracks haven’t shown up yet. Until pressure is applied, we won’t know where they are.”
Pressure is hardly something either team has felt.
LSU trailed for all of 6:33 against Oregon. Alabama has trailed in four of its eight games, but never after halftime.
When you possess the football equivalent of thermonuclear weapons, what need is there to hit a target with laser-guided precision? LSU and Alabama have lobbed their overwhelming talent at their first eight victims, and after at most two or three quarters worth of resistance, just finding the right zip code has been close enough.
Against each other, though, a little more attention to detail will be required. Not to imply that the Tigers and Tide have gotten fat and sloppy, but both teams could stand to tighten up their play in key areas.
ESPN BCS analyst Brad Edwards can think of a couple of for-instances.
“This is a game where the little things teams get away with to this point could make the difference,” said Edwards, who will be in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday as part of ESPN’s “College GameDay” radio show. “Like if Tyrann Mathieu tries to make a strip and 20 yards after that he didn’t get it. A.J. McCarron had a couple of throws against Tennessee where the receiver had to make a diving catch. If he’d hit him in stride he would have picked up more yards.
“Against LSU, that could be the difference in the drive stalling or going on. There will be a lot more need for perfection in certain areas than there was before.”
One amazing play. One dreadful mistake. The eventual national championship could well turn in the balance.
Now that’s pressure.