Sometimes you can get lucky. Even the best of the best occasionally show weakness. Anyone can beat anyone else on any given night. Just look at Florida State, for instance, who managed to lose to NC State. It could happen, right? And why not with us? This is the internal monologue of Alabama’s opponents, those who are in the way of this juggernaut and have to hope against hope that it can be beaten. This week, I am one of those people. After all, my team is in the top five in the country, and it has hung with Alabama in the past two meetings, even winning once. Who have the Tide played, really, to prove that they are really as good as the results say? Don’t forget the importance of home field, and it looks like the offense is finally coming around… maybe. I could go on and on, but the rationalizations serve only to hide the truth – I, like every LSU Tiger fan, am scared as all hell right now. There’s a Balrog coming up the tunnel, and the only thing we can really do is run for our lives.
That is what happens in the aftermath of games like this week’s, when Alabama eviscerated eleventh-ranked, unbeaten Mississippi State 38-7. The scoreboard hides the reality of the situation: Mississippi State played every bit as well as an eleventh-ranked team should. Alabama was just so much better that it didn’t matter. The Tide appear to have no weaknesses. The defense is playing as well as last year’s bunch, if not better. The offense, although not elite, has enough weapons that they will score more than enough in every ball game. They have scored 33 points or more in every game; their opponents have combined for less than double that number. Over the entire season. Alabama is allowing 8.1 points per game. They are ruthless, and never slow down. For the first half, Mississippi State had no answers on offense, but in the third quarter they finally hit a rhythm. Following yet another spectacular Crimson Tide punt, the Bulldogs drove 99 yards from their own one-yard-line, needing just a few more feet to get on the scoreboard and maybe get back in the game, 24-7. Quarterback rollout, swarm of crimson jerseys, interception. Game over, Crimson Tide style.
Other things happened around the world of college football this weekend, of course. Georgia shockingly played up to its potential, exposing the flaws of the Florida Gators for all to see, in a nine-turnover bloodbath of a game. USC and Oregon State had their faint national title hopes extinguished in agonizing road losses to Arizona and Washington. Nebraska demonstrated rather pointedly that Michigan is just not very good. The only teams that look elite right now, other than the Tide, are Kansas State and Oregon. Notre Dame rode the luck of the Irish to another controversial win, this time at Oklahoma, but although they are (it pains me to say it) actually really good this year, they still play close games too frequently to be great. Auburn continued its death spiral in a home rout against Texas A&M. Ohio State kept on winning, but no one paid attention to the probation-bound Buckeyes, who once again are easily the best team in the Not-So-Big Ten. And the Crimson-clad beast roared its challenge into the night, daring any man to stand and face it.
I hope for the best; really, I do, despite my fears. I will continue to come up with reasons why it could happen, reasons why it will happen. I will do anything in my power to make it happen, up to and including writing an entire column that serves as an elaborate jinx. Because someday this flaming monster will meet its end, someday there will be a lone man on a bridge, crying “You shall not pass!” I can only hope that it is this day.