For my entire life as an LSU fan, starting when I was just 12 in 2011, and before that, when Saban took their job, Alabama has been the measuring stick. That first Saturday in November has always told us something about where LSU stands relative to where we want it to be.
Almost every year, that has ended with disappointment. Whether it had ended in the most bitterly close of defeats, the kinds with which you spend YEARS as a fan lamenting the most minute, but singular of breaks, wondering “what if they went differently.”
What if Trent Domingue didn’t kick that kickoff out of bounds? What if the refs chose to see Peterson’s foot in bounds? What if Alabama didn’t call a damn slip screen at the perfect time? Those, among so many others that I know we all think about to this day.
Every time this weekend in November rolls around, they get dragged up. The painful, if at times only slight inadequacy of our beloved Tigers relative to the joyless death machine that rolls in from Tuscaloosa and what feels like their assistants in black and white, is shoved in our faces. I said during this game that I had seen this exact game about six times, and all of them were bitter defeats.
There was a difference though, this time...they won. In just year 1 of the Brian Kelly era, the measuring stick has yielded a pretty incredible result.
Every time it felt like Bryce Young, who gave LSU his very best shot under difficult circumstances presented to him by Matt House, had delivered the CLASSIC Alabama deathblow that we had all seen a hundred times (The Yeldon screen, Jalen Hurts’ run, Trent Richardson’s touchdown), LSU had an answer. For the first time in what feels like a decade, they had an ANSWER. The 2019 team was never in this kind of game with Bama, sure they were TOO GOOD to ever be in this kind of game, and sure Bama made it kinda close at times, but the Tigers were the ones delivering ALL the haymakers, not the ones withstanding them.
Jayden Daniels answered number 9, his Southern Cal rival, not once, but twice.
Alabama delivered their kill shots, the officials again made us all tweet the word “Birmingham” more than is ever tweeted in a single day (a proud annual tradition for us, I am not ashamed, welcome to fandom), and LSU withstood it all.
The offense was challenged all night by a devastatingly athletic Alabama defense. They tackled well, they rushed the passer, and they covered well. LSU had to earn every yard and they earned it, especially when they needed them the most.
On D, Matt House pushed every button I thought he should push, even as I was thinking about them! He called a fantastic, fantastic game and forced Bryce Young off his spot for a large portion of the game. Can’t do it for the whole game, but he did his part. Harold Perkins was utilized perfectly, and he has become a ballistic missile for this defense.
In overtime, LSU responded once again to what looked like a kill shot. Scoring on the FIRST play after Alabama’s touchdown, Brian Kelly, with steel behind his eyes, iron in his heart, and ice in his veins, made the decision of a winner. He trusted his team to go win the game, and he knew that if you want to win the biggest of games, you have to have the biggest of backbones. He went for two, and budding superstar Mason Taylor, who gave LSU the lead late in the 4th quarter previously, ended Alabama’s playoff hopes on a rub route to the front pylon. Brian Kelly made a bold move in coming here, and he made another bold move to justify it. He never beat Alabama at Notre Dame, and his relatively under-resourced teams didn’t even belong on the field with them, but now...
Brian Kelly’s LSU Tigers were not even lucky to beat Alabama. Frankly, Alabama was lucky this went to overtime. Brian Kelly’s LSU Tigers outplayed them, Brian Kelly’s LSU Tigers took their heaviest punches, and Brian Kelly’s LSU Tigers earned a win they richly deserved.