Prediction: Alabama beats LSU with long drives, exploiting the middle

By Tony Carter

Best game ever, perhaps. Most hyped game ever; a resounding YES.

The # 1 ranked LSU Tigers travel to Tuscaloosa this weekend to face the #2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama leads the all-time series 45–24–5. LSU won last year’s meeting at a score of 24-21.
Both of these teams are mirror images of each other. Both incredibly deep on both sides of the ball, both want to run the ball, both looking to dominate you every single play…and both have done so every game thus far.

UA has won by an average of nearly 33 points per game while LSU has won by an average of 4 touchdowns per contest. Alabama is the nation’s leading total defense; LSU is FBS’s #3 ranked total defensive unit. UA has SEC’s number one scoring offense, LSU has the number two. Both of these statistics are the recipe for a championship.

So now what…

Scouting the Strategies:
Expect LSU to put Alabama QB AJ McCarron under pressure with different blitz packages baiting him to make a mistake. LSU believes that they can beat Alabama’s offensive tackles off the edges. LSU has an impressive +15 turnover margin.The team that’s won the turnover battle in this series has won the last six games.

LSU wants to establish some sort of consistent running game to set up the play action pass to the wide receivers, especially Reuben Randle. LSU has the 99th ranked passing offense in the nation so running the ball will even be more important in this game.

Watch for UA to call many between-the-tackles running plays against undersized LSU linebackers, which UA believes are suspect to downhill running. LSU will likely be forced to sneak a safety up in run support which should leave the middle occasionally susceptible to Alabama TE’s and WR’s.

LSU has given up 10+ plays on 14% of opponent’s drives against them this year. Conversely, UA has notched nearly 25% of 10+ play drives.

If UA turns the ball over multiple times and loses the field position battle; LSU is in good shape. If LSU is unable to maintain a functional running game and minimize long drives by the Tide, UA is in good shape.

Prediction: Alabama 23 LSU 17
For a different take on the game, see this prediction.