The LSU–Alabama game has typically been won by the team that has outplayed by their opponent. The exception of course is the BCS National Title game in which the Tide simply overpowered LSU in the rematch.
How could the Tigers pull off such an upset in Tuscaloosa with so much riding on the game for the Tide? It could go something like this.
LSU starts the game with a long drive against a relatively untested Alabama defense. The wizard-like play-calling of Cam Cameron coupled with a couple big ground plays from Jeremy Hill force Alabama to stack up against the run and gets some single coverage in a shaky Alabama secondary. Zach Mettenberger connects a couple times with his receivers and the scoring strike is to Jarvis Landry from 45 yards out giving the Tigers an early lead and a the offense a huge dose of confidence.
The Tide playing from behind for the first time this season uncharacteristically make a mistake when talented but fumble-prone TJ Yelton coughs it up deep in Alabama territory. Mettenberger makes them pay immediately and goes over the top against a suddenly insecure Alabama secondary. The touchdown to Odell Beckham Jr. sends a wave of panic through a Tuscaloosa crowd that is too stunned to finish their Dreamland BBQ, and there is a mass rush to the interior of the stadium to light up some smokes. It is 14-0 LSU and the Tide faithful are having flashbacks to their A&M loss a year ago at Bryant-Denny. If this happens Nick Saban doesn’t have to worry about anyone leaving early in this one.
While this is a perfect scenario to start the game for LSU let’s see how this could happen.
LSU has to establish a ground game for a couple reasons. The preeminent one being the more Mettenberger and the Tiger offense is on the field, the less the LSU defense will have to deal with AJ McCarron and the highly efficient Tide offense. This is the biggest mismatch in the game and both sides are well aware of it. The other reason is Alabama has had a field day against pocket passers who aren’t a threat to run. Mettenberger is tremendously improved this year, but he is slightly more of a threat to take off than Les Miles. If the Tigers can chew up some clock and move the ball on the ground Alabama’s defense stays on the field. This is the best matchup LSU has in the game, and they have to take advantage of it.
LSU has to create a couple turnovers to get their offense more touches and to plant a seed of doubt in the mind of the Crimson Tide offensive players. Their best option is to force McCarron to press in the air and play from behind, which is something he hasn’t had to do the entire year. The much maligned Alabama offensive line hasn’t been tested since Virginia Tech, and McCarron has been known to take naps in the pocket while waiting for receivers to pop open. LSU’s defense isn’t up to what it usually is, but it will be the best Alabama is likely to face all season. This fact will not be lost on Nick Saban.
If LSU can get this game hanging in the balance going into the fourth quarter history has shown us that these two teams have incredible finishes. We have all learned at this time of year to expect the unexpected. Can LSU execute the upset to the delight of essentially everyone in the nation not from Alabama?
The fruit baskets to Les and company would come from Tallahassee, Columbus and even Waco. Who doesn’t want a fruit basket this time of year? Rumor has it real estate agents in Austin are awfully fond of them as well.
Terry Waldrop was a long time college basketball coach and AD. He also is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @terrywaldrop, “Like” him on Facebook and follow him on Google for a unique insider’s look perspective from a long time college coach.