Calling it hype probably doesn’t do it justice.
No, what’s ahead for the next two weeks, in advance of what basically will be the national-championship game, will eclipse by our standards what the presidential-election swing states are enduring.
An LSU-Alabama media barrage.
A never-relenting conversation for what will now be 14 solid days of crimson-and-white/purple-and-gold conjecture and breakdown and analysis and, well, hype.
This year’s Game of the Century.
With no apologies to No. 3 Florida, either, which has turned out to be a pretty good college football team. But it says here right now that Florida does not beat the LSU-Alabama winner on a neutral field, which happens to be the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, for the December 1SEC Championship Game.
No, the winner of the game will be the winner of the October 27 matchup in Tiger Stadium of No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 LSU and the winner of that game will then win the national championship.
Look it up: It’s in the rules.
No. 2 Oregon? Nice team, but just another bit of Pac 12 fodder.
No. 4 Kansas State? Nice team, but just another bit of Big 12 fodder.
No. 5 Notre Dame? Puh-leeze.
A quick history. The five of the last six winners of the SEC Championship Game have won the national championship. Florida started the run in 2006. LSU won in 2007. Florida won again in 2008. Alabama won in 2008. Auburn may have been a one-hit, Cam Newtown wonder but won in 2010. And LSU won it last year, before Alabama won the national title.
So let the hype begin.
Just like last year.
Remember last year? LSU came off a lopsided victory over Auburn and then also had a week off in preparation for a trip to Alabama. Just like this past Saturday, Alabama beat up on Tennessee and then had a week off before last year’s Game of the Century.
A big difference in 2012? While LSU is resting up this week, Alabama plays host to No. 15 Mississippi State, remarkably one of the remaining unbeatens. Alabama’s going to beat State, but simply having to play an SEC game when your opponent doesn’t preceding a game of this magnitude is a huge advantage for LSU.
As an aside, the 2013 schedule came out last week and there was a lot of hand wringing and whining from LSU fans about how the schedule is against LSU and how it’s not fair and, well, LSU seems to make out OK no matter what. And in this case, in the two weeks leasing up to this year’s Game of the Century, it sure seems that things are favoring LSU.
But back to the issue at hand, which is LSU-Alabama all that goes with it.
This is the damndest LSU team.
It has frustrated its followers at almost every turn, especially in four of the first six games, against North Texas, Auburn, Towson and Florida.
Saturday at Texas A&M, the Tigers were like Houdini, actually taking a 14-12 lead to halftime in a game they should have been losing by 19-7. Of course, LSU won 24-19 and at 7-1 has set itself up to get a chance at another national title.
And still those comparative scores drive you nuts. Remember opening night when LSU beat North Texas 41-14 while Alabama was beating Michigan by the same score? Or that Florida won at Texas A&M that same day, winning 20-17 but so many people saying that was no big win for Florida? And just knowing that A&M beat Louisiana Tech 59-57 and LSU beat Idaho 63-14 and that Tech beat Idaho 70-28 may not mean anything but somehow all those numbers boggle the mind.
LSU wins in spite of itself, in spite of its offense, and because its coach has the patience of Job.
Les Miles has decided that his LSU football team is going into a game with a plan and it’s going to stick with that plan. No matter what. And the plan is basically run, run, run, throw an occasional pass, and run, run, run, and if it’s close, kick the field goal and take the three and wait for the other team to crack.
Florida almost did. It was that close, the 14-16 defeat.
South Carolina did in LSU’s 23-21 victory.
Texas A&M did.
And Alabama did last November 5, when LSU went to Tuscaloosa and came away with a 9-6 overtime victory. For that matter, Miles’ strategy was the same last January 9 in the BCS national-championship game in New Orleans, when Alabama came away with a 21-0 victory. That night, the strategy didn’t work, but for 13 games before that last season it did and in six of seven this season it has.
In other words, LSU is 20-2 since the start of 2011 when Miles decided he wasn’t going to let being daring and/or careless make him lose.
Now it comes to this, Alabama at LSU on October 27 in Tiger Stadium, a place that holds 92,000-plus where another 40,000 or so will tailgate and watch the game outside the building, where the national championship will be decided in this year’s Game of the Century. Two weeks of hype. Radio talk shows will bubble over. Websites like this one will churn out countless words about the matchup.
Winner take all, it says here. After all, it’s in the rules.
Baton Rouge sportswriter and television host Lee Feinswog has been covering LSU sports since 1984 and is the author of three books, two about LSU football. Find him and watch clips from his show at www.sports225.com.