Matchup: #5 Alabama at #16 LSU (Alabama -6.5, 45.5 at JustBet)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 8th @ 8:00 pm (EST)
Location: Baton Rouge, LA (airing on CBS)
Preview: In what has been one of the more anticipated SEC games in recent years, the #5 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide head to Death Valley in Baton Rouge to take on the #16 ranked LSU Tigers.
The LSU Tigers had their struggles earlier in the year but have shown significant improvement and are currently ranked 15th in the country. They’re coming off a huge 10-7 win over then #3 ranked Ole Miss. The strength of the Tigers is there running game averaging 225 yards on the ground per game and are led by freshman standout Leonard Fournette who has 657 yards and 7 touchdowns. Their young quarterback, Sophomore Anthony Jennings has struggled at times but has made plays when called upon. Jennings has completed 50% of his passes for 1190 yards with 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Their leading receiver is Travin Dural, with 27 receptions for 676 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Tigers are without a doubt a one dimensional offense, but have still had success, as was evident when they wore down and dominated Ole Miss’ stout defense. No team had rushed for more than 200 yards against the Rebels until they came into Baton Rouge. LSU’s defense is young, but has been strong ranking 14th in the nation in total defense, allowing 318.1 yards per game. They have an excellent pass defense ranking 4th in the nation allowing just 158 yards per game through the air. The Tigers’ opponents aren’t scoring much either, only 15.8 points per game, which also ranks 4th in the country.
When you think of Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide teams, the first thing that usually comes to mind is defense. Well, the defense is solid as usual, but their offense is one of the more explosive units in the country. Quarterback Blake Sims leads an offense that is 13th in the nation in total offense. They are well balanced, averaging 218 yards rushing and 290 yards passing per game. Sims is completing 65% of his passes for 2034 yards and 15 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions. His main target is Heisman candidate Amari Cooper, who has 1132 yards receiving with 9 touchdowns. T.J. Yeldon leads the way out of the backfield with 618 yards rushing averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Their defense is ranked 5th in the country, allowing just 279 yards per game. They are stout against the run as well, allowing just 80.5 yards on the ground per game.
We all know LSU’s head coach Les Miles’ record at night in Baton Rouge (31-1). It’s an impressive mark, and there’s no doubt that this is one of the toughest places to play in all of college football. I think LSU is an improving team, and are a year away from really competing for a national championship. Both teams have had two weeks to prepare, and in this instance I have to give the edge to Alabama. The Crimson Tide are just better on both sides of the ball, and with LSU being one dimensional, I feel that it’s something Alabama coach Nick Saban can exploit. I think the Alabama defense will force the Tigers’ young and inexperienced quarterback in too many 3rd and long situations. I think this will be a chess match between Miles and Saban, but as the game goes on I see Alabama’s offense too strong and I can’t see LSU being able to keep pace. This will be a competitive game, but I see a more well rounded and more talented Alabama team pulling away in the second half. LSU is a year away, and the time is now for Alabama.
2014 Week 11 NCAA Football Pick: Alabama -6.5, Under 45.5
Alabama at LSU Score Prediction: Alabama 28 – LSU 16