Top Gun is a great movie. Sure it can be corny at times but it's fun to watch and contains a lot of things that are extremely awesome. Like the tense dog fighting sequences, the tragic death of Goose, the one two punch of Highway To The Danger Zone (which has made a comeback in pop culture thanks in no small part due to Archer) and Take My Breath Away, the use of
Hall & Oates the Righteous Brothers as a pickup line, and the immense sexual tension between noted LSU fan Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.
But my absolute favorite part of the film is what many consider a throwaway line. In case you're a poor sap who has yet to see this fine cinematic offering, here's some context: halfway through their training, Iceman and Maverick are neck and neck for top of the class. Mav is on a training exercise with Hollywood and Jester where there are two "bogies" when all of a sudden Viper, established badass and the de facto "head" of Top Gun, makes his presence known in one of the MIGs. When Hollywood and Goose freak out about this, Maverick has an absolutely terrific retort:
I'm not going to lie, Alabama has had our number since that (un)eventful night in January. And I hate it. It was hard to be upset about the game last year because I was not expecting to play Alabama into overtime in a rebuilding year, and if anything we proved that it was possible to punch Alabama in the mouth and have them on the ropes without the help of fluky turnovers, lucky plays, and favorable calls. But at the same time, I wanted that win so bad and it hurt that we had to live in Bama's shadow for another year.
Part of "having someone's number" is getting inside their head. In fact, the entire notion is predicated upon it. And since that fateful night in New Orleans, Alabama has done an excellent job of that. In 2012 Zach Mettenberger decided to show up out of nowhere, throwing for close to 300 yards against Alabama. And yet, LSU lost the game off of a screen pass from McCarron to to Yeldon in the waning second, a recurring theme throughout the John Chavis years. In 2013 LSU had to offense to challenge Alabama, but not the defense. On LSU's first drive of the game, the Tigers marched down the field to the Alabama 3, only to fumble the drive away. LSU was shook for the rest of the game, and while they stood up to Alabama, they were not able to keep it within a score. Last year we all knew it was a rebuilding year, and even after crashing Ole Miss' party, nobody thought we would be right there with the Crimson Tide. So when LSU recovered a fumble at the Alabama 6 with just north of the minute mark, LSU was on the doorstep of finally getting the elephant off their back. And that was too much for Vadal Alexander, who was hit with a well-deserved unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to push LSU back 15 yards. The Tigers had to settle for a field goal, and Alabama did exactly what they did in 2012, hitting a field goal to send it to overtime, where LSU folded like a lawn chair.
Because they were in LSU's head.
While I can't say for sure either Alabama or LSU will win, I do believe that this year will be different, mainly because for the first time since 2011, LSU is playing with confidence. There are no shaking doubts with this team. On offense LSU is built to give Alabama hell, with a quarterback who can beat you by passing the ball or taking off if there's nothing open downfield. Oh, and we have a singularity for a running back, not to mention a stable of horses to spell him and a wall of moving mountains to run behind. There are no real question marks anywhere.
Confidence is a tricky thing. It can become something that can become the basis for everything you do, good or bad. It can put a fire inside of you and compel you to be great, to stand up to the big bully on the block, or it can be the source of your downfall if it causes you to think your ways are infallible. In this situation, we have doctor's script for a heavy dose of it. If you throw a punch you don't believe in, it won't hurt.
The moment we stop telling ourselves "holy shit, it's Alabama" and start believing they're thinking "holy shit, it's LSU" with the same conviction as Maverick, then we'll be able to break through and beat Alabama. Believing is the first step of confidence. And believe me, that's exactly what they're saying.