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Matchup: Alabama Crimson Tide @ LSU Tigers
Date: Saturday, November 6th, 3:30 ET
Location: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Game Line: LSU +6.5
When Alabama has the ball… We aren't so sure that the Crimson Tide know what it's like to face a defense that is this good. Yes, the South Carolina Gamecocks and Arkansas Razorbacks both have units to be reckoned with, but none are as good as that of LSU. The Tigers are only allowing 11.2 points and 220.2 yards per game this year when playing at home, including just 2.9 yards per rush and 4.6 yards per pass. The Bayou Bengals have only allowed a grand total of six TDs this year at home, and it only took a superhuman effort by QB Cam Newton to put just 24 points on the board against them two weeks ago in a 24-17 win at Jordan Hare Stadium. Now, we know that this offense has some talent for the Tide, though. RB Mark Ingram might not be the Heisman Trophy candidate he was a year ago, but he has done a nice job this season, rushing for 544 yards and eight scores. RB Trent Richardson might actually be the better back of the two. He is averaging 7.0 yards per carry and has 606 yards on the season. QB Greg McElroy has only lost one game in his collegiate career, and he isn't quite ready to make this one No. 2 yet. He is averaging 9.2 yards per pass play on the season, is completing 70.6 percent of his passes, and has a TD/INT ratio of 11/3. Still, we aren't so sure, even with all of this talent (and we haven't even mentioned that of WR Julio Jones!) that Alabama is really matching up all that well with the LSU 'D', especially on the road.
Alabama Crimson Tide: B
LSU Tigers: A+
When LSU has the ball… This probably isn't the side of the ball in which either team can really win this game, but it surely is the side for both that can lose it. If the LSU offense doesn't get going, the defense is going to be good enough to pick up the slack, but turnovers can be killers and destroy any chance of winning the game. We already know that QB Jordan Jefferson is pick prone, as he has eight already this season against just two touchdown passes. The same could be said about Alabama here. The Tide don't have the same type of dominant defense this year as they did last season, though they still rank No. 2 in the country in scoring. Some turnovers and can win this game, but the offense is going to have to do its share. However, if the 'D' falls victim to some big plays, the Crimson Tide just don't have a chance, as the only team in the nation that might be able to win a shootout in the Bayou is the Oregon Ducks, and we aren't even so sure that they can do that either. HC Les Miles knows that punting the ball is quite alright. Drives which string together two first downs and end with a punt are perfectly fine. RB Steven Ridley is going to be the catalyst to this offense. He has rushed for 724 yards this year and six TDs. Still, the offense only ranks No. 101 in the land in total offense at 317.9 yards per game and is No. 25 in scoring at 25.5 points per game. It's definitely an edge to Alabama, and it's a big one, but this isn't the crucial factor in any LSU game.
Alabama Crimson Tide: B+
LSU Tigers: C-
Intangibles…. It goes without saying that this is very much so at the advantage of the Tigers. Alabama knows that it can win games like this, as it proved that it could win in the Bayou two years ago when it did so in overtime on the march to the SEC Championship Game. However, Baton Rouge might be the hardest place to play football in the country, especially when those shadows start getting a bit longer and the day turns to night. It is also critical to note that there has been two weeks for both of these teams to prepare. HC Nick Saban is the better coach, but there isn't a man in the country that we want calling the big shot in a big game like this than the Mad Hatter himself, HC Les Miles. Miles was the man that called the fake field goal that ultimately beat the Florida Gators in the Swamp, and we know that he has tricks like that one up his sleeve every single week. The bad news for Miles is that he has to do that to get his offense going at times. The good news is that there is no better in the game at it.
Alabama Crimson Tide: B-
LSU Tigers: A+
The Final Report Card… We just can't give the upper hand here to the visitors. This is a tough, tough game. Alabama's only real big edge in this one comes on its defense, and there is only so much one unit can do to make a game. The offense is going to be in charge of taking this crowd out of the equation, and if it can't do that, this is a scary situation. LSU is a team that has been disrespected by everyone all season long, but we certainly aren't issuing any sort of disrespect here on Saturday afternoon. These two teams are about as level as they could be, but we're giving the ever so slight nod to the hosts.
Final Overall Grades
Alabama Crimson Tide: A-
LSU Tigers: A