Poor Mississippi State, the wrath of Alabama is coming ...
The sign outside the Strange Brew Coffee House in Starkville, Miss., had eight words on it Monday that really said a thousand:
“Nick, we had nothing to do with Saturday.”
The best coffeehouse in the land has a message for the head man in Tuscaloosa before the Tide comes to StarkVegas… pic.twitter.com/gZW5L57fFm
— Joel Coleman (@JoelTColeman) November 11, 2019
That’s 100 percent true. No one from Starkville – neither the StarkVegas residents who inhabit what seems to be a remote outpost of the world 24-7-365, nor the American intercollegiate amateur football team that elicits ear-splitting cowbell rings when it plays at home – had a single thing to do with No. 4 Alabama’s 46-41 loss to top-ranked LSU.
But, boy, are they ever going to pay for it.
By now, surely you know that the Crimson Tide fell to the Tigers in front of President Trump and the entire college football world in the latest episode of the Game of the Year. Quite a game, it was, featuring a likely Heisman Trophy winner facing off against the best college football player in America two years running.
Yes, we refer to Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. In that order.
Anyway, LSU knocked off Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium to end the Tigers’ eight-game losing streak in the rivalry. And quite the game it was, as the Tigers’ newfangled passing offense dissected the Tide to the tune of 559 total yards.
Alabama’s offense, with a wounded Tagovailoa giving it the proverbial college try on a freshly surgicalized ankle, gave chase as best it could. Of course, Alabama’s sweet Hawaiian prince didn’t help the cause with a first-quarter fumble without being touched and a costly interception right before halftime that LSU quickly converted into another TD.
Still, once the dust settled and the viral video of LSU coach Ed Orgeron profanely proclaiming Bryant-Denny to be the Tigers’ new home went around the globe a million times over, it wasn’t long at all before it reached those fine folks 84.1 miles to the west.
The countdown was on to kickoff at noon Saturday against Mississippi State in Starkville.
And that’s when, as much as Strange Brew Coffee House tries, the pain truly begins for the Bulldogs.
“This game is over and you can’t take it back, so you have to move past it,” said Tide running back Najee Harris, turning the page on LSU before the Tigers even left Tuscaloosa County. “We will see what we need to work on, what we did good and what we did bad. After that, we have to forget and move on to the next game and try to execute the rest of the season and finish the way that we want to.”
The saying goes that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” On the short list of exceptions, no doubt, is a talented Alabama team coming off a tough home loss.
Omitting coach Nick Saban’s first season at Alabama, the Tide has lost precisely four home games in 11 seasons. In the games following those four, Alabama has outscored its opponents by a combined 156-14.
The 2010 Iron Bowl saw a crazy confluence of events – the son of a preacher man going off/earning his paycheck and a Mark Ingram fumble literally rolling straight for 30 yards being just two examples – en route to No. 2 Auburn winning a 28-27 thriller. The next game for the Tide? Alabama whipped Michigan State so hard in the Capital One Bowl that Kirk Cousins is still having nightmares about the 49-7 thumping.
The 2011 Alabama-LSU regular-season game was an instant classic, as the Tigers won a field goal-fest 9-6. The next Tide game? Alabama went to Mississippi State and dusted the Bulldogs 24-7.
Johnny Football was a wizard for No. 15 Texas A&M when it knocked off the top-ranked Tide 29-24 in 2012. The next game? Poor Western Carolina came to town for a paycheck and left with said check and a 49-0 beating.
Ole Miss was in full-on cheat mode in 2015 when the Rebels recorded their second straight win in the annual series, beating Alabama 43-37. The next game? Louisiana-Monroe came and went with a 34-0 defeat.
It is also worth noting that in two of those four instances (2012 and 2015), Alabama would rebound with enough juice to win national championships No. 15 and 16.
After the LSU loss, Saban echoed Harris’ instant analysis of the lessons that can be learned from losing to the No. 1 team in the land by 5 points.
“As an organization, starting with me and everyone else, we need to learn from this and do a better job,” Saban said. “Give our players a better chance to be successful. And our players have to take advantage of that by going out there and executing. Making the kind of choices and decisions that’s going to help them be the best players that they can be. I think there is a lot to be learned from that from this game.”
A lot can be learned from a loss, indeed. For Alabama, it means optimizing the potency of its offense and growing up even more on defense.
What can be learned if you’re Mississippi State?