Blog Entry

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Posted on: October 30, 2011 5:55 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Counting down to LSU-Alabama with a daily dose of analysis and news.

or the number of red zone scores allowed by Alabama this season, one of the many, many statistics in which the Tide defense leads the nation ... and in which LSU trails just a bit behind, tied for 12th with 15. The bad news for Alabama, such as it is? Five of those six scores -- out of nine opponents' red zone attempts total, also the lowest total in the nation -- have been touchdowns. Meaning Alabama's rate of allowing red zone touchdowns (55.6 percent) is essentially identical to the Tigers' (56.3, 9 of 16).

Does any of that matter? Not necessarily--it's a tiny sample size and red zone percentage is notoriously fluky stat anyway. But it also could be an indication that if LSU can break through to the Tide red zone, they're not doomed to settle for field goals no matter how strong the Tide D might be.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: We know we're going to see plenty of smashmouth running, aggressive calls from Les Miles, and huge hits from the nation's two best defenses. But what might we see that we wouldn't think we'd see?

In other words: if we're going to "expect the unexpected," what would we expect? And while that's a tough question to answer (it wouldn't be completely "unexpected" if we saw it coming, right?), here's a few guesses at potential events during Saturday's showdown that might defy conventional wisdom:

AJ McCarron airing it out. For a given definition of "air it out," of course; this is still Trent Richardson's offense first, second, and probably third. But Jim McElwain and Nick Saban have never been averse to letting their quarterbacks put the ball in the air when the situation calls for it. McCarron's already thrown 30 or more times twice this season, vs. Penn State and Vanderbilt. Likewise, though the common memory of Greg McElroy's role in the Tide's 2009 national title is as a low-use "game manager," he, too, surpassed the 30-pass mark four times, including against -- you guessed it -- LSU. With the Tigers ever-so-slightly softer against the pass than the run (10th nationally vs. 3rd), it won't be a huge surprise if McElwain turns to McCarron to handle a sizable chunk of the offense.

LSU connecting on the deep ball. We know the Tigers are going to try and go deep; when you have Rueben Randle and a quarterback in Jarrett Lee whose deep touch is his greatest strength, it's a no-brainer. The question is whether they'll have any success, and given that only Texas has allowed fewer than the Tide's 13 passes given up longer than 20 yards, it won't come easy. But the Tigers themselves lead the SEC in passes of 40 yards or more and rank second in those of 30 or more. There's some history of success for LSU vs. the Tide, too--just last year Randle caught balls of 76 yards (for a TD) and 47 yards, and the Tigers finished averaging 10.4 yards an attempt. Strong as the Tide secondary is, don't be shocked if the Tigers get over the top once or twice.

An Alabama trick play. It's Miles, of course, who's famous for diving into the bag of tricks. But over the past few seasons Saban has proven he's not afraid to call for some trickeration, either, especially in big games. Remember the fake punt that opened up the 2009 BCS national championship against the Longhorns? Then there was the Arkansas game earlier this season, in which the Tide took the lead by motioning out of a field goal formation into an offensive set that scored a touchdown. Given that Saban knows exactly what's at stake Saturday, we could see something similar.

VIDEO BREAK: Gary Danielson will, of course, be calling the game for CBS this Saturday (8 p.m. ET, don't forget). Here he previews the game with Tim Brando:

THE LATEST: With both teams taking Saturday off, the biggest news on the game didn't come out of either Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa--it arrived from Vegas, where the Tide opened as a consensus 4.5-point favorite and were shortly bet down to a current consensus of 4 points.

If you buy the conventional wisdom that home-field advantage is automatically worth a field goal, this could be seen as Vegas stating their belief that the Tide is the better team ... though by all of a single point. Even the Vegas experts, it seems, have to split hairs when choosing between the two sides.

Since: Oct 24, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 8:58 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

EXPECTING THE EXPECTED says that history shows that first year QBs don't fair well in the SEC in big games versus top flight defenses.  EXPECT AJ McCarron to throw one or two interceptions in key moments.  For example, I don't think he is better than Ryan Tannehill and he threw three in his first taste of a top flight SEC defense.  Although A&M is not in the SEC yet.

Since: Sep 8, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 8:20 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

You mean that same Oregon team who plays in the no-defense PAC 12? And if you are comparing win totals of "big games", Penn State also hasn't lost since playing Bama. By the way, Bama beat them at PSU with a second-game-of-his-career quarterback and won with relative ease. At least LSU fans come to the table with something worth saying - they beat a pretty good-for-the-PAC 12  Oregon team and a decent WV team and they certainly didn't get stomped at home by a team like Texas Tech. LSU fans can and deserve to talk trash - Oklahoma  quite deservedly is an also-ran.

Since: Sep 8, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:59 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Wow, it sure is strange that for all of the SEC's offensive problems that four of Alabama's  offensive players were drafted last year, three of whom are starting on NFL rosters this year. Not bad for a "defensive league." Unlike the Big 12, the SEC can play offense and defense. Again, when you finally win a national championship instead of just getting there, then you get to talk smack.

Since: Sep 8, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:47 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Five consecutive SEC championships - what has the Big 12 really done? You guys can't even keep your own conference together. Seems to me that the SEC (with it's supposedly weak lower tier teams) still has an amazing bowl record every year against other conferences. Bama/LSU will be settled on the field but bragging about an Oklahoma team that got it's collective rear end kicked by Texas Tech doesn't even make sense. At least if Bama loses it will be to a decent team. Bama or LSU would beat Texas Tech by 25 points.

Since: Sep 8, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:40 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Won't happen but if it's a three way tie, then they go by the highest BCS rating from my understanding.

Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 4:18 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Can somebody tell me if LSU beats bama, then loses to Arkansas later which team wins the tiebreaker in the SEC West?

Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 4:16 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Can somebody tell me if LSU beats bama this week but loses to Arkansas at the end of the season, which of the three 1-loss teams wins the SEC West? I am not aware of the tie breaker system for the SEC.

Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:25 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

perhaps you should have read further since nobody mentioned OU until your other drunken tide buddy did.  As for who plays who let me inform you at the time OU beat #5 fla st on their field, beat #10 texas on a neutral field, beat #9 k state on their field and still has a game vs #3 OSU on their field.   I don't know maybe that is a cream puff schedule. AS for conferances the Big 12 has 9 of 10 schools in the top 50 while the SEC has 7 of 12.  If top 50 is too high for you I can lower it and it gets worse for bama. maybe you guys are better at talking and not reading. it certainly seems so based on some of your schools academic performance.  You really can't be bragging on bama's win over your vols who are winless in conferance play?  or maybe you are bragging on kentucky or ole miss? Vandy? Miss st? stop me here when i get to a good team...     But I will give you credit it is UO but call your media buddies who always overhype your conference morons because they get it wrong everyday along with how good your con is.....

Since: Jan 16, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2011 2:28 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Well, here we go again:
An Okla fan (runtgamer) spewing his pathetic and irrelevant stats:

NOBODY care how many NC 'appearances' you have.
Having the most NC 'appearances' ...without the most NC wins, just means you have lost more NC games in recent history than anyone.
Congrats on being a more consistent LOSER.

You sound like a sad-sack dallas cowboy fan bringing up how many Super Bowl 'appearances' they have...anything to avoid how irrelevant their team is.

And, again...complaining about LSU getting to play in 'their own backyard'...just like when Florida exposed your 'amazing offense' in 'their own backyard' in 2008.
These destinations are pre-determined...based on being a desirable place to go during winter months. The state of Okla is not a desirable place to go...during any month (unless someone is compelled to gamble their child's college money away, or drink a watered-down beer)

Even the recent NC 'appearances' that you are so proud to bring up...are based on loopholes and glitches.
- In 2003, you couldnt even win YOUR OWN CONFERENCE Championship...but were in a Nat'l Championship (BCS glitch)
     but you lost to LSU...but we were all in awe that Okla had an 'apparance' in the NC game
-In 2008, it was the b.s. conference tie-breaker (ya, Texas beat you)...but were in a Nat'l Championship (Conf loophole)
but you lost to UF...and again, congrats on that 'appearance' in the game

And bringing up how many 'TOP 50' opponenets you have played this season compared to LSU and Bama ??
Top 50?  Really? how long did it take you to dig up that stat?
The other side of that stat (which you left off, of course)...of all those ranked opponents...who had to play the MOST highly ranked opponents...then, your pathetic 'Top 50' stat is as weak as your BCS bowl record. (Unless you play UConn, of course)

And funny you mentioned 'Sour Grapes' about a Bama fan...when it comes to 'Sour Grapes' , you are the equivalent of Ohio St fans... Oklahoma IS Ohio St (south campus)...

So quick to point out weaker NON-Conf opponents...and avoid a discussion about what really matters: the Inter-Conf opponents that teams play. What percentage of the season is dedicated to non-conf opponents??
Typical, you would want to avoid that discussion...because you do not want to compare conf opponents. (and that's understandable)

Basically, an early congrats on winning your conference again, UO (clearly the a conf of mediocrity)...
maybe, you can convince some more of the SEC's leftovers and castaways to join your conf...and have a Conf Championship game again.

and even better, maybe you can find someone that is interested in hearing about how many NC 'appearances' you have...

UO : Clearly, the best NC 'runner-up' in modern college football

(and yes, I typed 'UO' intentionally...last I checked, it's the University of Oklahoma...morons)

Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 12:44 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

And since you brought OU into this let me just point out that as of today's bcs rankings 10 of OU's 12 opponents are in top 50 as opposed to 6 by LSU and 5 by Alabama. I would guess it makes it easier to lose a game if you actually play decent teams. Just saying...

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