The Tide Will Not Lose In Baton Rouge
In the familiar circles of the Southeastern Conference, there are things that are common sights on Saturdays, such as fans arriving to games in motor homes and teams walking through the college campuses.
There are also games as traditional as deep accents, such as Saturday night in Death Valley and Alabama-LSU, a heated rivalry that goes back to when Paul “Bear” Bryant would take his boys to Baton Rouge against his former pupil, ol’ Cholly Mac.
An SEC West title is on the line (again) this year but these schools tend to think of bigger things, and that means a National Championship. As is so often the case, you can’t get there without getting through Alabama-LSU.
But it’s not the only game on this Saturday in this league for there is also a Cat fight with a bunch of Dawgs taking place in the East. And in other parts of the land, there’s a big one in the Big House, a Boomer landing in Lubbock and a potential party in Pullman, of all place.
Here’s a look at the other games, too. All times Pacific because The Prognosticator lives on the West Coast.
Louisville at Clemson (9 a.m., ABC)
The fiery felines have put their earlier-season struggles behind them and are now acting like a bunch of angry cats out to make a meal of out anything crossing their paths. Visiting Louisville should just roll over and play dead, for the Cardinals have as much of a chance of winning this thing as a sloth does of outrunning a speedy cat. And the Tigers are speedy but they are also stout, which will leave the paltry Patrinos hoping the officials apply the schoolyard’s mercy rule. Winner: Clemson
Nebraska at Ohio State (9 a.m., TBD)
It’s been a chilly year for the Shuckers but they are finally showing some signs of de-Frost-ing just as things are turning cold in Columbus. The Acorns have been cracked open and all the nuts are about to spill out all over the place, and a hungry opponent will be eager to turn this into an unexpected feast. This game may resemble something out of the Big-12 with the hosts hanging on by the edge of a tree limb. Winner: Ohio State
Georgia at Kentucky (12:30 p.m., CBS)
It’s going to be wild in Lexington as the Wildcats try and do something wild: win the SEC East. In football. There’s not been this much excitement in the Bluegrass for a game played with a pigskin since Bear Bryant was on the sideline. It’s a Hairy situation for the Dawgs, who are showing their teeth again after celebrating a win in the Cocktail Party. The Cats are no longer kittens and they can claw out wins with a running game that can leave a lot of scratch marks on defenders, which happens to be the weakness of the visiting Dawgs. But the Canines can counter with a ground game of their own, not to mention take to the air, and that will take the air out of the Commonwealth. Winner: Georgia
West Virginia at Texas (12:30 p.m., FOX)
The Steers got grilled last week and now jump right back into the fire against a team that can turn up the heat on any defense with the flip of a switch. The Couch Burners have quietly – quietly to anyone not living in Morgantown, anyway – gone 6-1 and risen to 12th in the country. They won’t hurt that ranking after BBQ-ing Bevo. Winner: West Virginia
Penn State at Michigan (12:45, ESPN)
It’s been a hair-raising year for the Pennsylvania Nittanys, who have escaped the clutches of defeat three times like a great escape artist. They did not have the magic against Ohio State, however, and will need to reach into their bag of tricks to pull a rabbit out of the Big House to win this one. The Fighting Harbaughs are as tough defensively as a Michigan winter but need to get more colorful on offense. The Lions will put up a fierce fight but will run out of magic dust at the end of this one. Winner: Michigan.
UCLA at Oregon (4:30 p.m., FOX)
It’s a return to Eugene for Chip Kelly, but he’s hardly coaching swift-footed swans as when he was coach of the Ducks. Instead, he’s got a bunch of slow-moving cubs who are not yet sure how or where to follow their leader. Other than the surroundings, he may not recognize his former place of employment and most certainly not the team, which is looking through a clouded Cristobal after blowing a game against Stanford and getting chased clear out of Arizona. Winner: Oregon
Alabama at LSU (5 p.m., CBS)
The Pachyderms come stomping into the bayou after a bye week for both teams riding a tidal wave as powerful as what big-wave surfers experience at Mavrick’s. At the top of this wall of water is the Tua Tsunami who has been as unstoppable as the ocean itself. The Bayou Boys will be doing everything they can do keep that water from rushing into Baton Rouge. LSU’s defensive plan will be as complex as a good bowl of gumbo; it will throw everything it can find in the kitchen cabinet into the pot and hope that something works. Alabama’s defensive game plan will be as simple as Dreamland ribs: load the box, blitz and force LSU to throw. Joe Burrow will hit a few passes but mostly he will be burrowing into the Tiger Stadium turf under a pile of crimson jerseys. Meanwhile, the Tua Tsunami will be pouring on the points at a pace the felines cannot hope to match. Winner: Alabama
Oklahoma at Texas Tech (5 p.m., ABC)
The raiding party is lining up to put the boom on the Sooners playoff hopes but they had better shore up their defenses first or else they will be left picking up the pieces before they know what hit them. OU can score as often as a big wind blows across the Oklahoma plains and while the Raiders can pile up the points, as well, the hosts are going to be swept away by the visitors. Winner: Oklahoma
USC at Oregon State (7 p.m., FS1)
These are troubled times in Troy and it’s a good thing the Helton Skelters are getting the heck out of Los Angeles headed to the cocoon of college football oblivion known as Corvallis. If you think few fans showed up to the Coliseum to watch the Trojans play Arizona State last week then check the TV ratings in Southern California for this game. The few fans of Troy watching should enjoy this one, tho, for the Beavers are playing like the dam burst, despite having a comeback win on the road against Colorado the previous week. The Trojans traditionally struggle in these cold and rainy fall night games along I-5 two hours south of Portland but they will find warmth in that their hosts are incapable of putting up much of a challenge. If the hosts manage to do so, however, then perhaps Helton and his coaching staff should just find themselves a cozy craft brewery in town and hide out for the rest of the year. Winner: USC
Cal at Washington State (7:45 p.m., ESPN)
With ranked teams falling like the fall leaves, the pirates from Pullman keep pulling out victories and are the Pac-12’s the lone remaining hope for making the playoff. The Big Bears clawed their way past Washington last week but don’t look for them finding the land of honey when they travel to the Cougars den. Winner: Washington State.