By scott rabalais
November 04, 2012
A prime-time slot on CBS.
Scalped tickets prices and credentialed media numbering in the hundreds.
Everyone who works for ESPN who can get out of Bristol, Conn., in the wake of Hurricane Sandy is heading to Baton Rouge to give blanket coverage to Saturday’s game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 5 LSU.
So why are so many Tigers fans acting like they’re about to be witnesses to an execution?
Yes, Alabama has been exceptionally impressive. You can make an argument that the best undefeated team in football isn’t the Atlanta Falcons, but the Crimson Tide.
This is the kind of setting Louisiana football fans live for — usually.
Instead, as local attorney and ardent LSU fan Randy Cangelosi wrote, “People are walking around like they are about to have a root canal.”
True enough. Somewhere in Arkansas, John L. Smith is looking southward and saying: “Smile! Smile!”
Despite LSU’s 7-1 record and the still-brightly-glowing embers of its national championship hopes, keeping hope alive in these parts is a tough task.
The reason is twofold. LSU’s defense has again been outstanding, but some of the starch has gone out of LSU’s special teams compared to last season. And the offense looks like it’s stuck in some of that concrete they’re pouring on the I-10 widening project.
Meanwhile, Alabama has steamrolled its first eight opponents with ruthless, boring and frightening efficiency that would have made Ivan Drago envious. Watching the Tide play is like opening a suspense novel and turning to the last page to see whodunit.
There is no such boredom watching LSU play. See Les Miles spin the crank on the Tigers’ Model T-powered offense, watch it sputter to life and try to navigate a field full of potholes en route to another victory. It’s hard to turn away.
Alabama’s team looks like a cyborg. LSU’s team looks far more human — human frailties and all. It’s the kind of team that should be a rally point for LSU fans. It is the underdog, the Rebel Alliance in the face of the Big Red Empire (Alabama’s chartered Death Star touches down Friday afternoon).
“This is the type of game we love,” Cangelosi wrote. “Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, prime time. Just think of Florida in ’97 and ’07. COME ON!”
There’s one other thing Tigers fans should rally behind: This is one Saturday when college football nation has your back.
LSU appears very much like the last line of defense between Alabama and a return trip to the BCS National Championship Game. The natural progression is to expect that national championship No. 7 in a row for the Southeastern Conference would then be in the offing.
Whatever happens Saturday, it’s significant that LSU is a major player in college football again. CBS isn’t pre-empting its prime-time schedule because the Tigers are expected to roll over and play dead. They expect something entertaining. Tiger fans should do the same.
So smile — even if it’s in the face of danger.