What’s Being Said

Glenn Guilbeau (The Daily Advertiser):

Greetings from the only town that could love Starkville, Miss., because without Starkville this would be the last SEC place you want to be on earth.

Red brick. That’s all there is around here. Red brick. They must not think there’s any other material with which to build. The campus is pretty, except for the strip that is kept about as clean as Bourbon Street. Without the University, this town would be Paducahville.

They’re called tornadoes, Glenn. Tuscaloosa is in Tornado Alley, USA…. so we use plenty of bricks for our buildings.

Ivan Maisel (ESPN.com):

The good news is that LSU (8-1, 5-1) is one victory from clinching an SEC West championship. The good news is that, stunned by Javier Arenas’ 61-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave Alabama a 34-27 lead with 7:33 to play, the Tigers scored 14 points while holding Alabama to only one first down in its final three possessions.

The bad news is that, in a game LSU’s fans desperately wanted to win to humiliate their former coach, the Crimson Tide’s Nick Saban, Alabama looked like the better-coached team. Alabama stayed in a game it had no business being in.

Cecil Hurt (Tuscaloosa News):

There is nothing more frustrating for a football team than having a monumental victory in its grasp, only to come away with a handful of hypotheticals.

That’s what the Alabama Crimson Tide brought away from Saturday’s game with LSU. A win that would have shaken the college football world slipped away and Alabama was left with the agonizing question — “what might have been?” — and the tantalizing hope — “what is going to be?”

On Saturday night, only the former question mattered. In spite of LSU’s clear-cut talent advantage — an edge that was most obviously profound on the LSU defensive front, but was apparent elsewhere as well — Alabama had chances. The Tide didn’t capitalize when it mattered, in those minutes when it enjoyed a 34-27 fourth-quarter lead and LSU was clearly on the ropes.

Alabama couldn’t retain possession and keep the clock moving with the lead. It couldn’t keep LSU from converting a decisive fourth-down play into a 32-yard touchdown pass to its best receiver (and most obvious target). It couldn’t hang onto the ball on the ensuing drive, fumbling away its own best chance to win at the end and simultaneously gift-wrapping LSU’s golden opportunity. In desperation time, the Tide couldn’t hang on to a final pass.

Carl Dubois (The Advocate):

Saban was a builder. He didn’t stay long enough to prove his ability to sustain.

Miles is a manager. He just might be up to the task of carrying on what another started. He’s won 30 of his first 35 games at LSU after replacing Saban.

You have to wonder how Saban, who is all about control, would have handled 2005, the hurricane season rearranged and affected in countless ways beyond anyone’s control.

After LSU flew home from a 2003 victory at Arizona, the Tigers stopped in Houston and underwent additional security checks, delaying them and destroying Saban’s timetable. Saban barked at LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman, urging him to do something.

“Nick, it’s Homeland Security,” Bertman said, shrugging. “You know, 9/11. There isn’t anything I can do about it.”

Saban returned to his seat, a slow burn reflecting his celebrated inability to suffer delays.

Then there’s Miles. LSU officials love to tell the story about the 2005 trip to Tuscaloosa, when the team’s plane was delayed because of a minor problem.

Miles took a nap.

Peter Fenny (NOLA.com):

This would be a war that lasted more than four hours and, when the fireworks had ended in Tuscaloosa, Ala., I was left with the feeling, if Saban had a wish, it would be that he was still coaching LSU.

I say this not because LSU won. I say it because of how the Tigers won, with enough of a contribution from big-time players to offset a rash of penalties.

Will Saban win at Alabama?

Yes, but not as easily as he could have won at LSU.

Will Les Miles win a championship at LSU?

After what the Tigers overcame Saturday, the way they did it, the way they have done it all year, anything’s possible.

Gentry Estes (AL.com):

This experience was hard, Saban said. He compared it to “playing against somebody who’s in your family.”

And yet, “We didn’t play good enough to beat them,” Saban said. “That’s what makes me mad.”

Saban’s fingerprints were on each of these teams, but only one could win. On this chilly evening before 92,138 fans, Saban’s old team raced past his new one and into the SEC West driver’s seat, scoring two touchdowns in the final three minutes for another in a season’s worth of thrilling finishes at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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