Finally, after days and days of talk about absolutely nothing new, the game that will explode minds and possibly actual heads is upon us. And, as is customary with nearly every game, but always the big games, everyone and their brother are throwing out a score prediction, which means you'll be hearing from the one lucky bastard who manages to nail it exactly (he or she should only be recognized for this feat of luck if they win significant cash monies; otherwise, they should be dismissed with an "oh, that's nice.").
Most of these predictions will follow these lines:
-"I like Alabama in a close one, but with a little more scoring. 17-13."
-"LSU is in a familiar setting and that defense seems like it's gotten even better. 20-10."
-"A game like this comes down to coaching and preparation. I like Nick Saban over Les Miles in that matchup. 21-17."
-"Games like this comes down to who wants it more. Looking into the eyes of the LSU players this week, I believe they want it so much it hurts. 14-9, Tigers."
Fairly generic, boring, and most of all, safe. Other than one or two sentences, very few people take the time to build their case. Part of that comes from very few people wanting to read 1500 words on why Alabama or LSU will win by a field goal, but part of it is that people are lazy and don't want to dig into the reasons behind the score they vomited onto a computer screen (suck it, piece of paper!).
While I am terribly lazy in general, I will not be one of these people to throw out a score, followed by a sentence or two similar to the ones in that list. No sir, I will give you a score, even though I snort-laugh at the idea of predicting scores, and I will defend it with real, actual reasoning that will be somewhat based on facts, but mostly on my horribly biased opinions.
To reach my predicted score, we're going to take a different approach. Ever since the playing of the Alamo Bowl between Baylor and Washington, as well as the Fiesta Bowl, there has been a constant ringing of shouts, "THAT'S NOT REAL FOOTBALL, Y'ALL." And, "YOU GOT TO HAVE SOME DEFENSE TO PLAY REAL FOOTBALL, Y'ALL."
In the minds of many LSU and Alabama fans, both of those games, particularly the Baylor/Washington game, were the Antichrist of football games. And since those games were the Antichrist, the LSU/Alabama game must be the Jesus Christ of football games. To reach my predicted score of the LSU/Alabama game, we're going to start with the score of the most evil game ever played, and work our way to the score of the only perfect game to ever be played.
So, starting off, I've got the score to the LSU/Alabama game at 67-56, with Alabama winning, since they're favored. To get to the final predicted score, I'll subtract points based on the perfections of both teams so that we arrive at the perfect score.
But first, a little housekeeping. It's been 37 days since LSU last played a game of football, or 38 if you count the end date, which I have no idea if you're supposed to or not, and 44 (or 45) days since Alabama last played. That's worth a loss of 15 points for Alabama and 10 for LSU (the layoff matters not to Les Miles since he assumed they played last week). Now our score is 52-46, Alabama.
I appologize for not starting with the most perfect category of them all: "IT'S CALLED DEFENSE, Y'ALL. PLAY IT." Minus 15 points for both teams. 37-31, Alabama.
Looking at the quarterbacks, A.J. McCarron, the player charged with leading the offense by making quick, accurate decisions for Alabama, has a giant sternum tattoo of, well, I don't know what:
Minus 15 points because it shows signs of family, faith, and love, which are all things non-SEC people wouldn't understand. For LSU, Jordan Jefferson is Jordan Jefferson and worth a 10-point deduction, and to cover our bases in case Jarrett Lee slips into the game, let's take off another three points. They play a not-gonna-get-you-beat style, which is the way real football is played. Alabama now leads 22-18.
In the last game, despite the onslaught of field goals, Alabama's kickers combined to go two of six on field goal attempts, and that was at home. But the pressure. Oh, the pressure. I'm not sure how they even were able to breathe as they walked on the field. And the type of pressure they're going to face tonight, well, you just can't simulate that anywhere else. Take off 10 points. LSU now jumps ahead 18-12.
Even though Les Miles has not had a disaster (Ole Miss '09) or near-disaster (Tennessee '10) this season due to a highly conservative and just approach, which has worked thanks to his defense, Miles has a disaster in his back pocket at all times. Much like the end of days, you know not the day or the hour when it will occur, but it will occur. Take off seven points as a preemptive strike. 12-11, Alabama.
While both coaches talked about this game being different from the previous version, you can be sure both of them will maintain the same conservative and right approach. Nick Saban will always flex his conservative muscles when faced with a 4th and three from the LSU 38, and choose to punt without hesitating. Les Miles won't know what he wants to do in that situation, but will call a timeout to think about it before eventually going for it (and of course he'll get it). And that's the kind of wide-open, and some might call it dangerous, mindset needed to win this game. Take four points from Alabama for the four times Saban punts inside the LSU 40.
And so, there you have it, after crunching numbers upon numbers, and careful analytical study, I've got LSU winning 11-8 in a game that LSU and Alabama fans will one day describe as "beautiful perfection, with a dash recklessness."
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