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ATVS Roundtable: Bama Week

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It’s that time. So we talk about the match-up.

Alabama v LSU Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Well, it’s time for Bama week again. It’s 1 vs. 2 for the first time since 2011, and a top-five matchup for the first time since 2015. What do we think?

Adam

That ironically enough, Bama needs this win more than LSU does. Change my mind.

Jake

In a micro, who has the best shot of making it in the playoff with 1 loss sense, Bama probably needs it more. In the macro, LSU is coming in with the best offense and best QB in school history, and is 1 win from exorcising the biggest demon any one team has in college football. All is not lost with a loss, either this year or in the grand scheme. But man would it hurt to do what this team has the 12 months since losing 29-0 in Baton Rouge and coming up short again.

Beyond that, I’m pretty mentally checked out on this game and everything that goes with it. I want LSU to win so badly but this game in its current context...I can’t really do it anymore. If they do win though, it won’t just be the biggest win for the program in almost a decade, it’ll be an exorcism.

Dan

The worst fucking part of playing Bama is that you really have to play perfectly to put them down. They almost never get blown out, even by the very best teams in the country. The Clemson game was the exception, not the rule. So even if LSU shows up, doesn’t turn the ball over and Burrow does Burrow things, there’s a great chance we will be in a dogfight deep in the 4th quarter. And that’s if we play pretty perfectly.

Bama is loaded with talent, diverse on offense and defense and frankly have had our number the last several years. I think we finally enter with a puncher’s chance with our offense. Not since 2012 have we even had them in a remotely vulnerable state. And don’t cite 2016. That was the ultimate bully with their finger on the dweeb’s forehead move.

What does LSU need to do to get them vulnerable? Score points. A lot of them. Do it over and over and over. We aren’t going to stop their offense. Even with a banged up Tua. But if we can, for once, make them feel like we can counter punch, we might have a chance. Make this a shootout. Don’t play their game. Don’t try and wear them down or out. Take to the skies. Bombs away. Let’s reboot Rohan to Reed except this time it’s Burrow to Jefferson-Chase-Marshall.

Billy

I’ve reached a point where any real joy or enthusiasm for this match-up is just beyond me. And it sucks, and I hate it and maybe I’ll feel different as things get closer, but right now everything about this game is just a burden.

It’s become the ultimate bellwether, for everything in a way that is frustrating and stupid. It only exists for LSU and the insanity of the fanbase has even effected how national media view it. Everything is “yeah, but what about Alabama” and it isn’t that way for anyone else. Nobody else remembers that the 2014 Ole Miss team lost two out of their last three SEC games and received one of the all-time bowl game ass-kickings by TCU, they remember that they beat Bama. In 2017, Auburn lost four games -- blew a 20-point lead versus LSU and got humiliated by UCF in their bowl game -- but what what do people remember? They beat Bama. This LSU team will more than likely win out, but if they lose to Alabama, and that’s literally their only loss, that will somehow become the dominant narrative. Earlier this summer, some of our own readers were talking about being satisfied if only they game is competitive. And I have a feeling that won’t hold up.

That’s fucking stupid. And don’t tell me “well that’s just the way it is.” We’ve let it become that way.

And the worst part is what value is there in beating them? Sure, getting to Atlanta is great, and SHOULD BE a thing to be cherished. But realistically now all that means is we have another tough game that we’ll have to win while they get to cruise and get into the playoffs anyway. And maybe the reverse will be true, but color me skeptical on that. They’ve sucked up so much oxygen that it honestly makes the sport less fun. Think about it — if LSU wins, we have to hope AGAINST other top-five upsets over the rest of the year so that their chances of getting back in the playoffs don’t go up. What’s fun about that?

Maybe winning changes that. It feels like this year is the closest the gap between us has been in a few years in terms of talent and experience. They still have more, but LSU will have its best chance in a while. And the program’s trajectory right now is on track to continue closing that gap. But the gap is still there. And LSU remains the only other elite program that HAS to go through them every year, and somehow only gets blamed for being in that position, rather than lauded for it.

And I’m still going to watch and I’m still going to do what we do for every game. But I don’t know that I go into it with any real enthusiasm anymore.

Saltzman

I hope like hell they win the game and there are definitely a lot of 2019 implications pending the outcome, but, as mentioned, there is no extra wave of excitement for this game.

Kennedi

I’m a little different where I’m still stuck in this phase of being super excited for the game every year even though I know my hearts just ultimately gonna get broken for the ninth (?) time in a row. My approach to football is obviously the same as my approach to relationships (actually, take this sentence out my mother reads these). I also think covering the team for the last couple of years has made me able to remove my emotions from LSU winning or losing and that’s for the best on my part.

In all seriousness, I also just want a competitive game — last year’s 29-0 game was probably the least fun I’ve ever had watching football — and this is the closest the two teams have ever been matched up on both sides of the ball I’d argue since 2011 or 2012. I think the winner of this year’s game is just going to be whoever plays a more perfect game and I don’t think Tua or Mac is going to be that big of a game changer because of the players Alabama has everywhere.

Seth

I’m team Kennedi with this. I just can’t get over how big this game is every year. These type of games fill the emotional void in my black heart. I’d kill to play meaningful games every week and Alabama is beyond meaningful every year. I don’t like coming in 2nd place every year so it would be so relieving to win finally.

I want the game to be in primetime (so I can almost pass out by gametime) because I like all the hoopla that comes with it. Last year was my first Alabama-LSU game without my dad and I started crying when the intro on CBS started. I go to work 9 to 5 every day, it’s boring. Lemme express my emotion via this game.

Evan

I agree with a lot of what Billy said. Alabama hasn’t just broken our body, they’ve broken our spirit. When Auburn beat them in 2017, the whole LSU student section cheered as they showed the end of the game on the video boards prior to kickoff against A&M. I couldn’t even find joy in that because 1. It pissed me off that stupid-ass Gus Malzahn can beat Bama every few years and we can’t. 2. I knew it was meaningless and Bama would win it all anyway. I was right, they did.

However, I’m starting to get to a place where my broken spirit is my armor. Like so many have said, LSU should still get in the Playoff even if they lose this game. In that sense, Bama can’t hurt us. We’re like John Wick gunning down all of Michael Nyqvist’s henchmen. Our wife and dog are already dead, what have we got to lose? We’re going out guns blazing. If we lose I can’t wait to tell all the Bama fans to see us in hell for the inevitable rematch. If we win I will celebrate Joe Burrow locking up the Heisman and pray to every god out there that Gus pulls off another one of those random-ass upsets in three weeks.

Dan

Billy’s right, but I would say a large part of that defeatist attitude is how outmatched LSU’s looked in those matchups. If those were competitive games every year, it would be frustrating, but probably not to that level. I think the narrative might flip to “LSU is close but still can’t overcome Bama” instead of it feeling like there’s miles of gap between the two programs. They’ve so resoundingly defeated us, it spins people into despair.

Jake

Losing resoundingly absolutely has played a part, there’s no point in acting like getting beaten badly every year doesn’t play a part. But while the games being closer would make me more interested and give me more hope, the freaking black hole sized imprint Bama has on this fanbase’s psyche and the way the hoopla surrounding the game is so often about just the most mind numbing, annoying things — anytime an LSU player mildly expresses confidence it’s as if we have disrespected God himself — has absolutely also hurt my interest.

Poseur

I simply don’t understand not being excited by a big LSU football game. It’s the biggest game of the year, so of course I’m excited. We might win, we might lose, but to pretend like it is anyway preordained is simply loser talk. Besides, why rob yourself of the joy of getting excited for a big game?

One of my biggest LSU pet peeves is acting like the Ed Orgeron Era is a mere continuation of the Les Miles era. It isn’t. It’s a different program. So know what I have to say to all of those losses in the last years of the Miles regime? They don’t matter. You think Auburn walked into Tiger Stadium thinking they couldn’t win because of 20 consecutive years without a win in Baton Rouge? Of course not. The players didn’t give one damn about stuff that happened before they put on the jersey. And our players shouldn’t, and probably don’t, care about whatever happened in 2014. Ed Orgeron is responsible for the stuff that happened when he was the coach.The players are responsible for what happened when they wore the purple and gold. Let the rest of that stuff go. They don’t care and neither should you. What matters is this year.

And this team is really f’n good. So is Bama. Should be a great one, and I can’t wait.