Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson knocks Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson off his feet after during the second half. A flag against Alabama was called on the play. Alabama won 41-14. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 04, 2012 7:23 PM
The more I think about it, it wasn’t really that 41-14 final score over North Texas that had LSU fans leaving Tiger Stadium feeling kind of mostly OK but probably somewhat less than totally fulfilled.
It was that 41-14 final score.
The other one.
The one from the Dallas area.
And if Alabama can beat Michigan by the same score the Tigers handled North Texas, then of course ....
I’ve never bought into the accepted theory that teams show the most improvement from Week 1 to Week 2.
My careful analysis and research has determined that, statistically speaking, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Occasionally they even get worse or Texas A&M gets rained out.
But it’s a bold-faced fact that nothing gets over-analyzed and misinterpreted quite like a season-opening game.
It is a ready-made excuse to start scrolling down the schedule while mumbling, “L, W, L, toss-up, L, W ...”
As if that first game was a measuring stick for everything yet to come.
And also, in the case of LSU fans this year, it’s the signal to start worrying about Alabama now, just to avoid the November rush.
Yeah, the Crimson Tide looked pretty awesome.
The Tigers looked like a really talented team working out some kinks while trying to act like they were excited about a game they knew all summer they weren’t going to lose.
But now, after one week, it’s been chiseled in stone — nobody can touch Alabama this year (and probably not ever as long as Nick Saban is there).
Folks, it’s a whole season, full of twists and turns and upsets and forks in the road.
Yeah, the Tigers got leapfrogged from their No. 1 spot in the coaches’ poll. But that was going to happen no matter the atrocities LSU committed at North Texas’ expense. That was the delayed Tyrann Mathieu effect, as the previous coaches poll came out before his dismissal. There was no change for LSU in the writer’s poll, although Alabama did jump No. 2 Southern Cal, since the original knew the Honey Badger wasn’t going to be there.
If I had one suggestion for LSU fans — and you’re free to ignore it — it would be not to let the Crimson Tide be the 500-pound gorilla in the room (or on the schedule).
There are a lot of good games between now and November. Enjoy them for what they are, not how this play or that formation might work against the Tide.
It will play out.
So at least until more data comes in, think of the current LSU-Alabama thing as little more than a role reversal.
LSU had the marquee opening game last season. Alabama got it this season.
Last year at this time, the Tigers made the nation’s collective jaw drop with a thorough, season-opening shellacking of Oregon (a better team than Michigan) in a game that (like Alabama-Michigan) wasn’t really even as close as the 41-21 final.
LSU was the talk of college football the next day.
Alabama no doubt kind of felt left out of the ga-gaing over the Tigers, as the Tide raised hardly an eye brow while going through the motions of its season-opening 48-7 victory over a Kent State team which had not yet perfected the wrong-way fumble return.
Of course, Oregon had LSU’s full attention that night, much like the build-up for Michigan had Alabama’s last Saturday.
LSU was penciled into the national championship game that very night, while it was a month or so before serious talk began of the “Game of the Century” that would come first.
The next week, almost predictably, LSU fiddle-faddled around with Northwestern State for a while before eventually winning 49-3,
Nobody worried about it. They’d already seen what LSU could do.
That’s the beauty of a season-opening game on the big stage.
It’s played not for style points but, to borrow a Les Miles-ism, to “secure victory.”
As for LSU’s national rep — always a major concern with Tiger fans — don’t worry about it.
The buzz was that LSU took care of business.
While some other ranked teams were struggling to put away out-matched teams, the Tigers put the Mean Green away early and took their sweet time finishing the job.
LSU jumped to a 24-0 lead with amazing ease, which brought the game to about 7 p.m.
Which is when everybody in America switched channels to Alabama-Michigan.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org