Saturday night before 93,000-plus fans in Death Valley, fifth-ranked LSU will face No. 1 Alabama in a rematch of last year’s BCS title game, marking the third time in two seasons Les Miles and Nick Saban have matched up in perhaps college football’s most competitive rivalry.
The stadium will be rocking. “College GameDay” will be in town. The pageantry will be off the charts.
But if you skip this one and make good on that long-promised date night with the wife or girlfriend, you should not feel compelled to surrender your man card or beg forgiveness of the college football gods.
Admitting you can’t stomach another one of these defense-filled, snail’s-pace tug-of-wars makes you no less of a fan. Or a man.
In the two games Alabama and LSU played last year, they exhibited the kind of play that would make Don Coryell design fly routes in his grave.
The first meeting saw the teams combine, during regulation, to match Jarrett Lee’s jersey number (12) in points scored. The second meeting saw LSU fail to reach Eric Reid’s (1).
This is not to say that either Saban or Miles owes anyone an apology. Both coaches rely on move-the-pile running games and knock-you-on-the-butt defense, because they know it is the quickest, surest way to bring home championships.
Chances are, the winner of Saturday’s showdown will bust somebody in the mouth Jan. 7 and keep alive the Southeastern Conference’s string of six straight national titles.
But that doesn’t mean you have to enjoy it.
The fact their rematch last January drew the third-lowest TV ratings for a national championship game during the BCS era should give you some indication of how fans across the nation feel about the beast-mode juggernaut that is old-man football.
Alabama and LSU playing football is like two basketball teams running the four-corners offense. Or two baseball teams that struggle to get the ball out of the infield.
It is a style of play the NFL essentially abolished in recent years, introducing a wave of rule changes meant to benefit the offense, reduce injuries and create a more fan-friendly product.
We have little patience for anything these days, including football games that go two quarters without a score.
You can talk about big hits and defensive stands all you want. But it’s watching a pair of gimmicky spread offenses roll up and down the field that provides the instant gratification we need.
Alabama and LSU may very well stage another game for the ages Saturday night. One like the tussle last November that included no touchdowns, five field goals and two incredibly competitive defenses that made every yard seem like a mile.
The stakes alone should be enough to keep America interested.
The style of play probably won’t.
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