HOOVER, Ala. — The last LSU football coach lost his final five head-to-head meetings against Alabama.
The current coach already is 0-1 with the Tigers against Nick Saban's Crimson Tide.
As Ed Orgeron prepares for his first full season at the helm in Baton Rouge, there is little doubt which program remains a towering roadblock in keeping the Tigers from their objectives. The Tide posted their sixth straight series triumph last November with a 10-0 road blanking.
"Obviously they've done a great job at Alabama," Orgeron said Monday afternoon as SEC media days opened. "Coach Saban has done a great job. He did a great job at LSU. Last year was a tight game. It was 0-0 going into the fourth quarter.
"Their quarterback made two plays. We didn't. I don't know if it's that big of a gap. I just think we need to play our football."
Alabama's current mastery of LSU began at the BCS title game after the 2011 season, when the Crimson Tide avenged a 9-6 overtime loss in Tuscaloosa weeks earlier with a 21-0 smothering in New Orleans. The Tigers of Les Miles didn't cross midfield in that contest until the midway mark of the fourth quarter, and their offense was woeful in last year's matchup as well.facebook
The Tide had a 323-125 advantage in total yards last November, including a commanding 216-33 edge on the ground.
"Alabama's defensive line wreaked havoc every game they played, so you've got to find ways to get open and get open quick," LSU senior receiver D.J. Chark said. "Facing them is a challenge every year. They're very smart and coached well, and I think that was probably the most disciplined and difficult defense we've ever faced."
Chasing Alabama isn't a quest desired only by LSU, as the Tigers have a lot of company in the SEC West alone. It was Auburn last season that received the league's bid to the Sugar Bowl, which goes to the top SEC team not in the four-team playoff, and Ole Miss earned the trip to New Orleans two years ago.
LSU hasn't played in an elite bowl since losing the national championship game, spending the past five years in the Chick-fil-A (before it was in the New Year's Six), Outback, Music City, Texas and Citrus bowls. The Tigers are 2-2 in their past four meetings against Arkansas, Auburn and Ole Miss.
"Obviously there's a lot of people on our schedule that are very, very good football teams," Orgeron said. "So we can't just point to Alabama, but they are the benchmark that the head coach at LSU must beat, and I think the way to beat Alabama is to recruit on their level. They are recruiting at a high level now, and they do a great job of evaluation.
"Their team is coached very well, and they get their team ready to play. Again, last year, we weren't that far off."
Orgeron's Tigers are scheduled to visit Tuscaloosa on Nov. 4, which is one of five SEC road journeys LSU is having to make after last year's road game at Florida was moved to Baton Rouge following Hurricane Matthew. The Tigers are having to visit Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
"It is what it is," Orgeron said. "Here's what we do at LSU — we take one day at a time and one game at a time. We know we have a very tough schedule, but we don't look at it that way.
"We look at it as a chance to compete. We look at it as a chance."
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