You’ve waited long enough.
For 10 months, you courageously sat through spring/fall ball, NBA playoffs, the Olympics, Tiger Woods coming and falling back, and the very, very long MLB season just to get to this moment.
"The Game of Games: Part III."
Trilogies can jump the shark ("Matrix" trilogy, anyone?), but we’ve had some classics (thank you, "Godfather" and original "Star Wars"). The hope is that Game 3 between Alabama and LSU will live up to its blockbuster billing.
LSU’s loss to Florida and its mediocre passing game has taken a little of the luster out of this one -- especially with Alabama currently dismantling everything in its path -- but people worried about "The Dark Knight Rises" disappointing and it didn’t even come close.
(Don’t even try to argue that last point because you won’t get far at all.)
And Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge, La., between No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) and No. 5 LSU (7-1, 3-1) has the chance to be epic. No, we don't have a Honey Badger or Trent Richardson, but we have two swarming defenses and major BCS implications on the line. An SEC and national championship appearance are there for both, and it’s a chance for one squad to break the 1-1 tie these teams, which are very similar to the ones that battled twice last year, have.
It also will break the 3-3 tie Nick Saban and Les Miles have against each other.
Now, Saban and his Crimson Tide have the edge when it comes to style points. A 21-0 drubbing of LSU in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game last year trumps the Tigers’ 9-6 overtime win against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
In a way, it essentially eliminated everything LSU did to get to New Orleans and almost made everyone forget about the epic bout these two teams had in Bryant-Denny Stadium in November.
That was the game everyone had wanted to talk about. You had the two best teams in the country duking it out in a game that, at the time, stood as a quarterfinal for the national championship. It was the defensive standstill of all defensive standstills, as we witnessed eight punts, four turnovers and 534 combined yards of offense.
Oh, and no touchdowns.
Although many above the Mason-Dixon Line yawned at both offenses, fans in the Deep South oohed and ahhed at what they thought was how real football was supposed to be played. If you were a true fan of great defense, you fell in love with Epic Rumble: Part I.
But we quickly forgot just how great Game 1 was after these two teams (clearly still the best teams in the country) met again in NOLA. Basically playing in its own backyard, top-ranked LSU was knocked unconscious by the Tide. Alabama literally resembled a herd of elephants as it stomped LSU into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome turf.
The run-first attack that worked against Alabama in November was immediately suffocated by the Tide defense. LSU’s game plan never really changed, and the Tigers were held to just 92 total yards and didn’t cross midfield until eight minutes were left in the game.
LSU was supposed to have a historic year, but everything was lost with an offensive game plan that didn’t come close to challenging Alabama. In essence, it was a one-game season for LSU, and 13-0 swiftly vanished from everyone’s memory.
It’s redemption time for LSU, which is looking to get back into the national championship picture while Alabama is trying to continue its dominant run that really started on that crisp night in New Orleans.
We’ll see similar teams to what we saw last year, as both defenses rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense, passing defense, rushing defense and total defense, with Alabama being No. 1 in all but passing defense.
Both have a run-first mentality, as Alabama ranks second in the SEC (214.4 yards per game) in rushing and LSU third (208.4). Both have also had up-and-down special-teams performances.
The only real difference is that Alabama’s passing game, manned by potential Heisman Trophy candidate AJ McCarron, is far superior to LSU’s.
But you can throw statistics out when these semitrucks slam into each other in a game that could send the winner on a one-way ticket to Miami for the Discover BCS National Championship Game.
It’s been fun to watch these teams elevate this rivalry in the past year, and Saturday’s bout should be a dramatic finish to such a great trilogy.