Senior College Football Columnist

Week 10 picks: No way LSU rolls out of Tuscaloosa with a win


I have a great amount of respect for Brett McMurphy, my colleague here at CBS. The guy has broken more news on all the conference realignment stuff than anybody this year. I'm proud to work with him. Which is why I can say, respectfully, that he's going to be flat-out wrong about this one. LSU coming into Tuscaloosa and beating Nick Saban's team? Sorry, I'm not buying that one.

I've seen a lot of LSU this year. A ton actually. Seen them more than any of the other top 15 teams in the country. I spent a week with the West Virginia staff as they poured over Tigers film for hours upon hours, probing for any weaknesses they could unearth leading up to their matchup with LSU in late September. Then I had a chance to see that scary display of speed and aggressiveness up close from the sidelines when they beat the Mountaineers by 26. In a word, the LSU D is awesome. But having seen and said all that, I still will be very surprised if LSU can come into Tuscaloosa and beat the Crimson Tide. That's how nasty and tough I believe Nick Saban's team is.

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I will concede LSU's defense has probably been even more impressive than 'Bama's higher ranked group, given that the Tigers have faced much better offenses than the Crimson Tide == short-circuiting the explosive Oregon attack, destroying Dan Mullen's MSU offense and holding the WVU pass game to only 21 points on the road were all eye-catching performances == but they haven't matched up against anyone as physical as 'Bama. The Tide's O-line is much better than anything else LSU has faced. And nobody has a powerhouse runner like Alabama's Trent Richardson. It's not like Penn State doesn't have a very good defense with a great D-line, and Richardson got 100 yards on them in Happy Valley. Florida had the nation's No. 5 run defense (allowing under 57 yards a game) before Richardson and 'Bama came to Gainesville in early October. Richardson had more than three times that many rushing yards by himself.

I don't expect Richardson to run wild on LSU the way he has against the Gators and Ole Miss and Arkansas, but he will wear down the Tigers defense, which isn't quite as big or as physical as Saban's.

LSU's offense has been a pleasant surprise. Jarrett Lee has a lower interception ratio than any of the top 40 QBs in the country. Jordan Jefferson, LSU's other quarterback, has been very sharp too. They also have a lot more options in their backfield. LSU has more big-time, ready-for-prime-time running backs than any team in America. But who is running on 'Bama, at least for more than a series or two?


As former NFL GM Phil Savage pointed out in my story about the Crimson Tide defense, the biggest difference with this team now is that Saban has so much confidence in his players, especially in the secondary where he can get a feel for what the opponent's game plan is, then make shrewd in-game adjustments and shut it down.

And don't think that the 'Bama D didn't hear LSU's DeAngelo Peterson say the 'Bama linebackers were "slow." OK, well technically, Courtney Upshaw, one of 'Bama's 270-pound 'backers, said Wednesday night he hadn't heard the tight end's comments, but when he was informed of them by the media, he didn't respond. He really didn't have a chance before an Alabama spokesman interjected. Well, Upshaw, Dont'a Hightower and the rest of the Tide linebackers will get their chance to respond Saturday.

Of course, we know LSU will come with a few curveballs. This is, after all, what Les Miles does in big games. Miles is a wiz at that stuff and at getting his team focused amid a lot of distractions. Nothing he does shocks me anymore, and I say that with a great amount of respect. But my hunch is 'Bama forces the Tigers into few more mistakes than vice versa and Richardson has a game similar to what he had in State College == a good, productive, workman-like game moving the chains while the aura of invincibility about Saban's latest defense grows.

Alabama 17, LSU 10.

I had a mediocre week, going 9-9 against the line, dropping me to seven over .500 vs. the number this year. The good: picking picking OU to hammer K-State. The bad: picking Tennessee to upset South Carolina. The ugly: picking Clemson to handle Georgia Tech. This week's guesses:

Southern California 31, Colorado 14: The Trojans may be in for a little emotional hangover after the past two weeks, but CU is still too short-handed.

Michigan State 31, Minnesota 7: A bounce-back for the more physical team at home as the Gophers, who are 0-3 outside the state, lose again on the road.

West Virginia 37, Louisville 20: Charlie Strong's team has only won once in three tries on the road, and WVU is a lot more explosive than the UK team the Cards beat.

Michigan 28, Iowa 21: The Hawkeyes' suspect D (76th in total defense) will struggle after the loss to lowly Minnesota last week. Pregame: Michigan-Iowa

Georgia 31, New Mexico State 3: Despite the off-field issues, the Dawgs are still too big and talented for NMSU.

Nebraska 41, Northwestern 17: The Huskers are in high gear now and should overwhelm a D that has given up 39 ppg in its past five games. Pregame: Northwestern-Nebraska

Oklahoma 45, Texas A&M 28: I don't see the Aggies showing enough grit, after all of the second-half meltdowns they've had this year, to hang with OU in Norman. Pregame: Texas A&M-Oklahoma

Wisconsin 44, Purdue 14: The Boilers are 0-3 on the road and none of those three others were as complete a team as the one they're visiting this weekend.

Stanford 47, Oregon State 20: The Beavers are 108th in pass efficiency D. I don't see them getting Andrew Luck out of rhythm. Pregame: Stanford-Oregon State

Pittsburgh 22, Cincinnati 17: The Panthers are banged up and have lost four of their last six, but it's the Big East, and screwy stuff often happens here, and I'm going against my judgment.

Houston 55, UAB 20: Case Keenum continues to pile up big numbers against a team that is 112th in scoring defense and has one of the worst pass rushes in college football.

Arkansas 24, South Carolina 17: The Hogs were fortunate to get a W against Vandy last week. They'll be sharper this week, although this figures to be another game where Tyler Wilson's toughness is showcased. Pregame: South Carolina-Arkansas

UCLA 22, Arizona State 21: My hunch is Rick Neuheisel will get the Bruins up for an upset after a gritty performance by Kevin Prince last week.

Oklahoma State 38, Kansas State 14: After the Sooners blasted K-State, it'll be hard for the Cats to go on the road and face an even more potent offense. Pregame: Kansas State-Oklahoma State

Oregon 43, Washington 37: As much trouble as I expect the Dawgs D to have with the Oregon speed, expect Steve Sarkisian to keep the Ducks off balance with Chris Polk doing a lot of damage. Pregame: Oregon-Washington

Boise State 54, UNLV 10: The Rebels are coming off a win over Wyoming but still only have the country's 118th ranked defense, which will be picked apart by Kellen Moore. Pregame: Boise State-UNLV

Bruce Feldman is a senior writer for and college football commentator for CBS Sports Network. He is a New York Times Bestselling author, who has written books including Swing Your Sword, Meat Market and Cane Mutiny. Prior to joining CBS, Feldman spent 17 years at ESPN.

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