The time has come once again for the two biggest powerhouses in the SEC to do battle again when the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide square off with the #5 LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge at Tiger Stadium on Saturday night in prime time. These two schools met twice last year, once during the regular season in a unbearable to watch 9-6 affair in which LSU won in overtime and then again in the BCS Championship Game where Alabama got revenge by a score of 21-0 and won their 14th National Title in school history in the process.
The Crimson Tide have the number defense in the entire country and they have dominated every opponent that has lined up against them this season. The Alabama defensive unit is allowing just 203.1 total yards and 8.1 points per game which are both ranked first in the entire nation. Their offense has done a decent job this year and are averaging 222 passing yards (73rd in FBS), 214.4 rushing yards (22nd in FBS) and 40.6 points scored (11th in FBS) per game. What type of defensive game plan will Nick Saban have ready for the Tigers this time around?
Alabama will need to score some points in order to win the game and they will look to quarterback A.J. McCarron do lead the offensive down field and make something happen. So far this season McCarron has passed for 1,684 yards, 18 touchdowns and not a single interception while completing 68.9% of his attempts. Eddie Lacy (109 carries for 596 yards and 7 TD this season) and T.J. Yeldon (93 carries for 649 yards and 7 TD this season) will also be important players for the Tide on offense and if they can have a big game for them it would make this contest that much easier for them. The defensive players to watch in this one for Bama will be safety Robert Lester, linebacker Nico Johnson, corner back Dee Milliner and nose tackle Jesse Williams. These four are the most talented and dominant players on the Tide’s D and they will need to play as so in order to help them get another win over LSU.
The Tigers defense is a very good also they may not be as superior as the Crimson Tide’s unit but they are pretty formidable in their own right. The LSU defense is allowing 245.9 total yards (5th in FBS) and 14.6 points (9th in FBS) per game while their offense looks terrible at times averaging 177.4 passing yards (109th in FBS), 208.4 rushing yards (25th in FBS) and 31 points scored (51st in FBS) per game. Les Miles will need to figure out how to get something productive out of his at times seemingly, lethargic offense in order to make a win possible in this game.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger will have the entire world watching him this week to see if he can actually be a player on any type of level or if he is just a game manager that doesn’t even do a good job with that. Thsi season Mettenberger has passed for just 1,419 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 56.6% of his pass attempts. If Mettenberger has looked uncomfortable and shaky throughout the season against lesser defenses then how is going to hold up against this defense? LSU will need their stable of running backs to perform like never before; that stable is made up of five players who have carried the football at least 40 times this season for 250 yards or more. The two backs who will garner the most attention are Kenny Hilliard (71 carries for 420 yards and 6 TD this year) and Michael Ford (60 carries for 357 yards and 3 TD), if these can produce at a high level it will make the game a little easier for the Tigers. Lookout for defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery (maybe the best pass rushing duo in the nation), middle linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Eric Reid for the Tigers defense; they are all playmakers who will need to step up and make things happen if the Tigers want to come away with a victory.
This game is going to be physical, ugly and very low scoring; I just don’t see an offensive explosion from any team occurring. This game will resemble last year’s regular season game more than it will the title game but the only difference is the final outcome will be similar to the title game’s and not the regular season meeting. So basically what I’m saying is I think Alabama wins 12-6, very unattractive but a win is a win.