The headline from the Nov. 6, 1993, Mobile Register newspaper has become indelibly etched in the lore of the LSU-Alabama football rivalry.
“Tide could lose,” it read, “pigs might fly.”
It referred to the unlikely possibility of an Alabama team coming off the 1992 national championship and riding a 31-game unbeaten streak losing to a scuffling LSU team that was humiliated four weeks earlier in Tiger Stadium 58-3 by Florida, still the most lopsided loss in program history.
LSU was a 25-point underdog. But on that day, the high-water mark of the otherwise under water Curley Hallman era came when the Tigers, with arguably their greatest upset, won 17-13 in Tuscaloosa.
The Tigers didn’t need pigs to fly home on that afternoon. Their cleats didn’t touch the ground all the way back to Baton Rouge.
Twenty-seven years later, the headline on any prediction column about this LSU-Bama game, in which the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide has been installed as an even bigger 29½-point favorite, might need to go back to the hyperbole well for a bucket full of words.
Over the last two games, LSU limited opponents to 2 for 26 on third down conversions. Alabama has the No. 1 third down offense in the country.
Tide might lose, pigs might … invent time travel. Discover cold fusion. Stop those pesky home title lock ads from appearing every time I click on YouTube.
“No one outside of LSU believes in us,” linebacker Jabril Cox said.
Even that may be drawing the circle a bit too wide.
Considering where Alabama is, where LSU is not, this would be the mother of all Tiger football upsets if they could pull it off. The. Biggest. Ever. According to ESPN, LSU is the biggest underdog reigning national champion in the past 40 years.
Alabama has a sharpshooting quarterback in Mac Jones aiming for players like DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle behind five slabs of granite masquerading as an offensive line. And when he gets tired of throwing for touchdowns, Jones can hand it off to Najee Harris, who runs for goal lines like Michael Phelps swam for gold medals.
LSU has two freshmen quarterbacks, TJ Finley and Max Johnson, throwing for … well … last we heard fellow freshman tight end Arik Gilbert was still on the team. Now that Terrace Marshall is gone, you could fill a section of Tiger Stadium with all the LSU players who have opted out of this season — but they wouldn’t be able to safely social distance.
Defensively, Alabama is coming back to town with University High’s Dylan Moses, who once committed to LSU as a toddler, Southern Lab’s Chris Allen and another former Tiger commitment turned 11th hour Tide flipper, Patrick Surtain. LSU, it must be said, has found a defense the past two weeks, with Derek Stingley playing a hot corner and Micah Baskerville taking over at middle linebacker (that didn’t take long). But defending Alabama won’t be like Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond throwing wild passes to all points of the compass last Saturday. The Tigers will be stretched to their limit.
They will bend. They will occasionally break. But mostly, strangely, it’s hard to imagine that LSU’s offense will be able to keep up with Alabama’s 48.5-point per game offense without employing some pretty imaginative theoretical physics.
Quick, someone get a flock of really smart flying pigs in here.
The goal really isn’t for LSU to win, to avoid the first losing streak in four seasons under coach Ed Orgeron (the Tigers are 13-0 under Coach O after a loss). They should work on scoring the first points in Tiger Stadium against Bama since 2014’s 20-13 overtime loss (Bama won 10-0 in 2016, 29-0 in 2018) and see where it goes from there.
That loss in 2018 was a bounce off a rocky bottom for an LSU program that went on to win the Fiesta Bowl then launch itself toward last season’s 15-0 national championship run. That should be the goal again this time, to be as competitive with Alabama a year from now as the Tigers were a year ago when they won that 46-41 epic in Tuscaloosa.
“I've done it before,” Orgeron vowed during his Monday news conference, “and I'll do it again.” It’s 2020’s version of his famous “We’re coming and we ain’t backing down” quote that culminated in a win over Bama last year that almost ranked as big as the CFP championship game win over Clemson.
When they played for LSU, teammates, roommates and ultimately best friends who were the best men in each other’s weddings, Gordy Rush remember…
Time will tell. Meanwhile, Alabama may be about to get medieval on LSU. That’s certainly the fear around these parts. I haven’t seen a more dreaded run up to an LSU football game since that Hindenburg of a loss to Florida in 1993 (the Gators went in as a 14½-point favorite in that one).
“I don’t want to sound facetious, but we only have a few” revenge games, Alabama and former LSU coach Nick Saban said this week when asked about that being a factor against LSU.
Barring a squadron of flying pigs appearing over Tiger Stadium on Saturday night, the Tigers look like they are about to become the proud owners of the most revengiest revenge game of all time.
An LSU win seems to border on the impossible. No, scratch that. It would jump over the border of impossible and claim it as its own territory.
Then again, how 2020 would it be of the Tigers to do exactly that?