College football fans remember the scene: crimson and white confetti raining down as University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban lifted a crystal ball high above his head on that January night.
Yes, Alabama may have had the last laugh, but the truth is-Alabama has struggled against the LSU Tigers in the regular season in the past two seasons, including last years “Game of the Century.” Crimson Tide fans may remember January 9th, but that moment almost never happened because of what happened of November 5th.
That night the Crimson Tide failed to capitalize on advancements into LSU territory and left too many points on the board via missed kicks. Uncharacteristically, Alabama turned the ball over and lost hold of a lead in the second half. Fortunately for the team in Tuscaloosa, the loss did not cause them to lose a chance in the title game.
This year the Crimson Tide will not be so lucky. The SEC is in a down year and critics have already pointed out that Alabama’s schedule no longer looks as frightening as it did in the preseason. Alabama’s only road to Miami will be via an undefeated season. A loss would not only mean a miss at a national championship shot, but a likely miss at a SEC championship game birth.
There is a lot on the line. Although Alabama has lost to LSU in the past two regular season meetings, this year will be different.
Unlike last season, the Crimson Tide will enter this game with an offense that has become more dynamic. Heisman front runner AJ McCarron has kept everyone but opposing defenses happy finding 16 different receivers this season, forcing opposing defenses to account for every threat on the field. The running game features no bell cow like a Trent Richardson, but Eddie Lacy, TJ Yeldon and Kenyan Drake have proven they can be more than effective with three different running styles.
On defense, Alabama lost 7 starters from last years team, but from the results you’d be hard pressed to notice. In fact, this year’s defense may be scarier to opposing offenses because of their ability to force turnovers. Alabama has forced 23 turnovers in 2012, 3 more than last year’s unit had for the entire season.
Some feel this is the best Crimson Tide team to ever come out of Tuscaloosa. If the first eight games are any indication, Alabama might be the only team standing in their way.