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Nick Saban and David Cutcliffe Meet Again

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This weekend's game between Alabama and Duke don't just bring together Wallace Wade's two most famous employers. Side note: how different was football in 1930? Wade left Bama to go to Duke. He left Tuscaloosa to go to Durham. Really.

It also reunites two longtime SEC coaches, Nick Saban and David Cutcliffe. The latter may be in exile in the ACC now, but he'll probably always be remembered more for his time at Tennessee and Ole Miss.

Saban and Cutcliffe have faced each other six times before: five as head coaches of LSU and Ole Miss, and once as head coach of Alabama and offensive coordinator of Tennessee. Saban is up five games to one in the series between them, but not by much:

Year Saban's Team Score Cutcliffe's Team Score
2000 LSU (8-4) 20 Ole Miss (7-5) 9
2001 LSU (10-3) 24 Ole Miss (7-4) 35
2002 LSU (8-5) 14 Ole Miss (7-6) 13
2003 LSU (13-1) 17 Ole Miss (10-3) 14
2004 LSU (9-3) 27 Ole Miss (4-7) 24
2007 Alabama (7-6) 41 Tennessee (10-4) 17

 

Three of the six games were decided by more than one score, with the first two being decided by 11 points apiece and the last one being a 24-point blowout. The other three were decided by a field goal or less despite LSU having a better record (sometimes much better) than Ole Miss each time.

That said, not all the box scores were that close. Tennessee rolled up 362 yards of offense in 2007, but some of those Ole Miss scores didn't come with a lot of yards. Overall, Saban has done a pretty good job against Cutcliffe's offenses.

I don't think anyone expects much from Duke this weekend, though the Blue Devils did torch Wake Forest through the air last weekend. Duke doesn't play anywhere near enough defense to keep close with Alabama too long, but if the Crimson Tide come out sleepy on Saturday, Duke might move the ball on Alabama's young secondary. The guy that runs the offense there knows quite well what he's up against.