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: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 12:34 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

It doesn't suck to be an OU fan, in fact one week from after LSU destroys you we will be ahead of you in the BCS rankings and i will see your posts touting how your victories over kent st and Georgia southern are better than OU's over Ball St and Florida St.  In reality I give props to the history of dominance the SEC has shown in the bowls. But this Alabama team is getting way too much hype. It isn't better than your title team. LSU will win this game and go on to win the national title with the benefit of playing essentially a home game vs whomever it may be.  And fyi the Big 12 has been to 7 championship games also, and OU itself has been to 4. Though I understand your envy. Every source in sports tells you OU is the best program in modern football so I can see your sour grapes....  

Since: Dec 7, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2011 12:20 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Ive been following LSU football a long time, and this team is really really good. There is something special about this team. I'm not saying they will beat bama Saturday, Tuscaloosa is gonna be loud as hell but the Tigers will give it all they got I promise you that.

LSU will win if: The Tigers can continue to make big plays on both offense defense and special teams. If they can score early, look out tide the swagger and the badger may come out.

Bama will win if: Lee and or Jefferson throw one or more pick sixes.

Go Tigers!

Since: Jun 12, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 12:08 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Actually FCS was formerly called Division I-AA. Well, since you brought up the SEC as a whole, let me go ahead and remind you how many times the BCS Championship has had a SEC team play in it: 7 times. Tennessee vs. Florida State, LSU vs. Oklahoma, Florida vs. Ohio State, LSU vs. Ohio State, Florida vs. Oklahoma, Alabama vs. Texas, and Auburn vs. Oregon. Every one of those times, people like you would talk about the SEC's strength of schedule, and say that the SEC team would lose. You know what happened every time? The SEC team won. There isn't anything different thing about this year. I know there isn't anything I can say that will change your mind. Guess I'll just have to wait until the SEC walks away from the BCS Championship with their sixth straight title. By the way, it must suck to be an Oklahoma fan like you. Roll Tide!

Since: Oct 30, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 12:01 am

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Yes, beating Oregon was a very good win, but take that game out of the equation, and LSU and Bama have played very comparable schedules.  LSU deserves props for playing them for sure, but to act like LSU's schedule is so much better than Alabama's is ridiculous.  If anything, LSU's remaining schedule is actually worse than Alabama's.  As I pointed out, the only real difference is the Arkansas and Vandy games versus the Auburn and Miss State games.  Ok fine, take out Miss State and Vandy.  Lets call that a wash.  You're left evaluating Arkansas versus Auburn.  Both played them at home and both beat them pretty good.

Since: Oct 16, 2011
Posted on: October 30, 2011 11:47 pm

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Miss St as the third game of the season was no vandy. sorry!  and what was the lsu ou score? what are they ranked now? and what have they done to every team, but lsu?  we'll see what bama does to auburn...that like lsu's road game to miss st.

take off your beer bama goggles!!!!! 

Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: October 30, 2011 11:32 pm

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

My apologies to Kent St of the MAC and their 2-6 record and mighty 117th ranked offense and Georgia southen of the fcs which I believe was formerly referred to as div II. But more to the point I love how you would prefer to argue the semantics of where the teams play instead of defend your teams cupcake schedule. Of course, you really can't defend it or your conference. You know how many SEC offensive skill players will be drafted in the first 3 rounds of the 2012 draft? 3, maybe that's why your defenses look good because as a whole your conferences offenses are terrible.

Since: Oct 30, 2011
Posted on: October 30, 2011 11:20 pm

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

It's laughable that people say that LSU has played such a tougher schedule that Alabama.  They've both played UT and Florida, so those are a wash.

Alabama played Ole Miss while LSU played Kentucky.  They are both horrible.  No advantage to either there. 

LSU played Mississippi St and Auburn while Alabama played Arkansas and Vandy.  Arkansas destroyed Auburn and Vandy would beat Mississippi State.

Alabama played Penn State and LSU played West Virginia.  Both were on the road.  Those are a wash.

So at the end of the day, LSU has a better schedule because of playing Oregon on a neutral field.  Big whoop. 

Since: Jun 12, 2011
Posted on: October 30, 2011 11:15 pm

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Neither Kent State or Georgia Southern are Division II. Both are in Division I. Division I is subdivided into two subdivisions known as FBS and FCS. Kent State is in FBS along with colleges like Alabama, LSU, and Oklahoma. Georgia Southern is in FCS. Next time you might want to get your facts straight before you post. Roll Tide!

Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: October 30, 2011 10:52 pm

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

In comparison LSU, their opponents are a combined 38-27, and their opponents offensive ranks are 5th, 73rd, 13th,115th, 92nd, 99th, and 88th.  LSU has played much better competition and should win this game easily. Alabama is far over-rated due solely to the SEC hype machine that has Arkansas who has had to come from behind in back to back weeks vs conferance basement dwellers Mississippi and Vandy, currently ranked in the top 10. Really folks? I guess wins are wins but i recall OU winning games and moving down in polls because it wasn't convincing enough. Tell me what is convincing about Arkansas?

Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: October 30, 2011 10:38 pm

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Can we please get off of how good alabama is? Why do you people buy into this madness? The record of their opponents thus far is 35-33 and that is being carried by penn st and arkansas at a combined 15-2, otherwise their schedule is utter fecal matter.  Their defense is so "dominant" well i guess it is easy to be dominant if you play terrible offenses.  Their opponents offensive rankings thus far are 87th, 106th, 23rd, 92nd, 103rd, 112th, and 99th. That doesn't include division 2 kent st. But with the exception of arkansas all the teams they have played this year are terrible on offense.  What makes this whole thing worse is that Alabama as another div 2 school Georgia Southern on their schedule the week before auburn.  National champion teams don't schedule that way, or at the least shouldn't be allowed too...

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