The Alabama-LSU game had so much potential. Now, it seems like just another chance for the Crimson Tide to showcase how much they have continued to improved.

The differences between the two programs are staggering considering they won the last two national championships. Alabama has one of the best coaches of all time. LSU has a fired coach who has agreed to step down at the end of the season. Alabama has a Heisman Trophy favorite at quarterback. LSU had a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who is long gone.

Had you been scouting games in the preseason, one of the most exciting matchups in the entire SEC would have been Young and Bama’s passing game against LSU’s perennially incredible defensive backs, led by Derek Stingley. Alabama held up its end of the deal. LSU didn’t even come close.

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Alabama has the No. 2 passing attack in the SEC with 323 yards per game. LSU, without Stingley and Eli Ricks, ranks 11th in the SEC in pass defense. The Tigers give up 242 passing yards per game. LSU is also 13th in the SEC in pass defense when you look at opposing teams’ passer rating. Only Vanderbilt is worse. That’s not great company to be in for anybody, much less a program that refers to itself as “DBU.”

Young has the No. 2 passer rating (179.9) in the SEC. The sophomore is 2nd in the SEC with 306 passing yards per game. LSU is 9th in the SEC in total interceptions with just 7 in 8 games. It’s November and the Tigers don’t have a single player with multiple interceptions. Feel free to take a deep breath and read that last sentence again. I know — all of that is hard to fathom. So what happened?

One could certainly argue that LSU players lost respect for head coach Ed Orgeron because of some off-field incidents that have been loosely reported. However, there are other factors at play in LSU’s freefall from relevance. Injuries and an overall lack of pride in their program have proven more difficult to overcome than Orgeron. I understand that players have to look out for themselves and that there’s little reason to return to a shipwreck of a season. Why would you do that? Well, how about pride?

Injuries can derail any team but they’ve been especially hard on LSU’s secondary. Stingley underwent a surgical procedure on his foot in early October. He could return but that doesn’t seem very likely with LSU’s season in shambles. LSU lost another cornerback in October when Ricks suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Safety Major Burns has been out with a foot injury since mid-October. Burns could return this week but that remains to be seen.

LSU hasn’t just had to deal with injuries in the secondary. The Tigers have so many injuries in all areas that Orgeron said the Tigers couldn’t hold practice for much of their bye week. I’ve seen teams succumb to the injury bug and hold light practices, but I’ve never seen nor heard of a team just cancelling practices during the season. The entire sentiment makes Orgeron look a bit like Johnny Paycheck, who wrote the song “Take This Job And Shove It.”

There are pros and cons of firing a coach midway through the season. The pros are that you can openly search for another coach. No athletic department wants to be caught searching for a coach’s replacement until it’s public knowledge that he’s not going to return.

So what are the cons? Well, the best embodiment of that is the LSU football team. NBA basketball star Kawhi Leonard invented load management. LSU players have perfected it. Less than 2 seasons removed from winning a national title and going 15-0, the Tigers are a true embarrassment. LSU’s laissez-faire attitude would make former Tigers star Billy Cannon cry.

Orgeron is the easiest to blame for the freefall, but that’s a bit too simplistic. What fan wouldn’t take a national championship even if they knew they had to endure what LSU fans have gone through this season? Every fan base would take LSU’s past 3 seasons and be happy, except Alabama’s. It’s sad the way LSU’s short-lived reign came to an end.

This was supposed to be a weekend in which SEC football fans could feast like Thanksgiving. The main course was supposed to be 2 highly-ranked, highly-talented and highly-motivated teams. Well, at least Bama will show up. The side dishes would consist of a talented young quarterback taking on an all-star defensive backfield steeped in tradition. Well, at least Young showed up.

Any chance that the Tigers had to beat Alabama in some sort of weird, out-of-body-experience upset was dashed on Oct. 9 when Bama slipped up and lost to Texas A&M. Since then, the Crimson Tide have been refocused. They know they can’t lose another game and be assured of a spot in the College Football Playoff. Since losing to the Aggies, Bama has beaten Mississippi State and Tennessee by a combined score of 101-33. Oddly enough, that could end up being the score in the Alabama-LSU game on Saturday.

Nah, the Tigers can’t score that many points.


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