College football is where the unexpected is expected.
It is still a kid’s game played by unpredictable players just turned men, whose emotions (much less their concentration levels) can swing across a wild, wide pendulum.
As a sign held up at a recent college game aptly stated, “Upsets Live Here.” Upsets are part of college football’s DNA. We crave the crazy. We love asking each other, “Did you evah?” “No, I nevah!”
Then there is Alabama.
With apologies to Central Florida (not really), Alabama has won two of the last three CFP national championships and played for the one in the middle, losing in the final minute to Clemson.
Bama has won five of the past nine CFP or BCS national titles overall. Alabama has made all four of the previous CFP semifinals. Alabama has been ranked No. 1 in 40 of the last 43 Associated Press top 25 polls and was, to no one’s real surprise, No. 1 when the season’s first College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night.
Upsets? Alabama? Tuscaloosa is where upsets go to die. The Crimson Tide has made college football as predictable as, well, the tides. It has made college football — unless you are an Alabama fan or enjoy eating the same thing for breakfast every ever-lovin’ day — less enjoyable.
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Heck, all this winning is probably even making some Alabama fans feel a little overserved, a little like Alexander the Great, who wept when he saw he had no worlds left to conquer. Nick Saban chewed out Alabama students for being no-shows when Bama crushed UL-Lafayette 56-14 earlier this season. Apathy, even for the uber-successful, is an insidious foe.
For most college football programs, national championships are rare events to be savored. Major life landmarks that wind up painted on the side of buildings, framing license plates, frozen in time in sports page reprints in living rooms and restaurants state wide.
At Georgia, the 1980 national championship — its one and only national title in the wire service poll era — is like a holy shrine, with Herschel Walker its highest deity.
At Alabama, yet another national championship is an occasion to change the number on the side of the helmet.
LSU has a chance to change all that Saturday night, to inject some strange, suspenseful joy and excitement into this college football season.
On the face of it, Saturday’s game between the Tigers and Crimson Tide doesn’t look like that much of a setting for a major upset. Bama is No. 1, but LSU is No. 3 in the CFP rankings. The Tigers are playing at home. On Saturday night. Chance of rain: NEVER!
The LSU Tigers have earned a lofty place in the season’s inaugural College Football Playoff top four.
The whole bit.
But Alabama has been so brilliantly brilliant this season, throttling opponents by an average score of 54-16. And much of the 16 comes when the game is already decided. The fourth quarter of each and every Crimson Tide game has been a yawner, a time for Heisman front-runner quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to grab a sports drink and a seat on the bench.
Can LSU change that?
LSU fans like to think of themselves as college football’s outsiders. That no one really likes them. They want to win, but in reality, the underdog role fits in perfectly with Louisiana’s image of itself. Our state ranks 47th in this and 49th in that, but, cher, we’re good at football and cooking for football games, yeah.
Saturday, just about every college football fan not present is going to wish he or she could experience a night like this in Death Valley, and just about everyone not wearing Alabama crimson is going to pull for LSU. Pulling for the Tigers to upset the status quo, knock off the big dog, aggravate the stuffing out of Saban. Maybe make him throw his headset until it breaks.
An LSU win, as improbable as it may seem, could save this college football season from the black hole that is Alabama.
Until, of course, a one-loss Bama team still makes the CFP semifinals.
Come late Saturday night against Alabama in Tiger Stadium, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will be able to check off another item on his list of Lo…
Louisiana Saturday night
The LSU-Georgia game Oct. 13 had a bowl-game-like feel with all the Bulldogs fans who made the once-a-decade trek to Baton Rouge. Someone from LSU told me they figured 25,000 Georgia fans were in attendance.
Even for a showdown of this magnitude, Saturday night’s LSU-Alabama game figures to be more of a pro-LSU crowd. Sure, Alabama will have its fans in the stands — Crimson Tide supporters snapped up their school’s allotment of 6,000 tickets — and will certainly have other fans scattered through the stands.
But the secondary ticket market leaned heavily to Georgia for that game. That is not the case this time.
According to Stephen Spiewak of Vivid Seats, 60 percent of secondary market ticket sales for the Georgia came from the state of Georgia. Only 10 percent of ticket sales for this game are coming from the state of Alabama, Spiewak said.
“Tiger Stadium figures to be overwhelmingly pro-LSU,” Spiewak wrote.
By the way, ticket prices on Vivid Seats on Friday ranged from $260 in the west upper deck to $787 for club level seats.
Of course, the ticket sales figures do not mean LSU fans could not be making “brother-in-law” sales to Alabama fans, bypassing the secondary market.
But the word is, tickets are at a premium because so few LSU fans who have tickets are willing to part with them.