Written by Matt Youmans at Las Vegas Review Journal
In one month, Ed Orgeron has become a Cajun sensation. He’s a barrel-chested guy who speaks with a Louisiana tongue, bold and full of bluster. It’s not an act, either, because he was born on the Bayou.
Orgeron and Nick Saban are as identical as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in the movie “Twins.” Saban is a small, detail-obsessed dictator with a sour disposition. But Saban is admirable because he wins, the most important trait in any football coach.
Orgeron is winning, too, but it’s a small sample. He’s 3-0 as Louisiana State’s interim coach. If he goes to 4-0 by beating Saban and Alabama on Saturday night, trash the interim tag.
In a duel that could determine Orgeron’s future and throw the College Football Playoff picture into chaos, the Tigers are 7½-point underdogs to the top-ranked Crimson Tide. It’s a night game in Baton Rouge, and a fiery coach is leading a confident home ’dog. Even to those who despise the hype for the Southeastern Conference, this is must-see TV (interrupted at commercial breaks by political attack ads.)
“Nick has brought some great teams into Baton Rouge and had trouble,” The Gold Sheet handicapper Bruce Marshall said. “I think this could be a very tough game for Alabama.”
Initially, this appeared to be a tough game. In May, when South Point sports book director Chris Andrews opened the line, LSU was a 3-point favorite. The Tigers were loaded with talent, led by running back Leonard Fournette, a top Heisman Trophy candidate.
But then the Tigers lost to Wisconsin and Auburn. Fournette was injured, and Les Miles became the team’s former coach in late September. It suddenly appeared to be a much easier game for Alabama.
The Tide, 8-0 straight up and 6-2 against the spread, were double-digit favorites in each game to this point. Alabama had some trouble against Mississippi and Texas A&M, but Saban found ways to survive.
Saban is winning with a fearless defense, as always, and with a freshman quarterback, Jalen Hurts, who’s a better runner than passer. But how great is that defense, and how tested is the freshman?
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