It's Nitty-Gritty Football Time

Alabama is two-thirds of the way through the 2009 regular season, which is down to the nitty-gritty. LSU comes to Title Town this week and it's fitting that the Southeastern Conference Western Division race (and the potential real big things beyond that) are on the line.

Once upon a time Alabama fans looked upon LSU fans as great sports. The Crimson Tide would hand the Bayou Bengals their annual beating, particularly when the game was in Baton Rouge, and as soon as football was over the party would resume. No hard feelings. But a funny thing happened. LSU won a few games against Alabama. The party was over; things got a little on the nasty side.

It reached a low point last year with LSU partisans staging an effigy lynching of Alabama Coach Nick Saban. A police escort was considered a necessity for the Crimson Tide team, and particularly for Saban. As everyone knows, LSU fans think the Crimson Tide enticed Saban away from LSU; never mind that little two-year detour to Miami. Maybe the Bama nation arranged Saban's NFL foray as a means to hide the evidence.

In a way, one can understand the LSU frustration at Saban now being at Alabama. He rebuilt the Fighting Tigers into a real football team, winning a national championship and stocking the cupboard for another one. Now he's on the other side. LSU Coach Les Miles seems to be a good one, but...

Yeah, there's that nagging doubt in Tiger Town that the big one got away.

Saban has never had anything but good to say about his time at LSU, the LSU people, and Miles. This weekend he will have guests from Louisiana in his home (presumably LSU fans who weren't at the mock hanging in Baton Rouge last fall).

Saban is 1-1 against LSU since coming to Alabama prior to the 2007 season. LSU staged a fabulous comeback to defeat Bama in Tuscaloosa in 2007. Last year Bama had to win in overtime against the Tigers in Baton Rouge.

That made the all-time record: Alabama 44 wins, LSU 23 wins, five ties.

Florida has already clinched the SEC Eastern Division championship. Alabama will have the Western title wrapped up with a win over LSU, but LSU will be in command if the Tigers defeat the Tide Saturday. The SEC Championship Game is Saturday, December 5, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

The Alabama-LSU game was recognized early as a big one, chosen for CBS television. Kickoff Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium will be at 2:30 p.m. CST.

Alabama is coming off its open date. The Tigers had a little tune-up, a 42-0 romp over Tulane. Bama is 8-0 overall and 5-0 in SEC play. LSU lost to number one ranked Florida and is 7-1 overall, 4-1 in conference games.

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