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: Jan 9, 2010
Posted on: October 30, 2011 10:07 pm

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

I don't completely disagree with loopdog. While this LSU team may not be the best team I've seen in my lifetime they are certainly one of the best, but I can say the same about this Bama team. I believe that this is the best team that Saban has coached and Miles' team is the best one he has coached. And both teams are arguably the best team either school has ever fielded. I don't expect a beat down. Both defenses are too good to allow the game to get out of hand. I would like to see it stay close and see a rematch in the BCS champ game. The SEC has won the last 5 in a row. What kind of statement would it make to have a Championship game where no matter who wins, it will be 6 in a row for the SEC. I hope the Tigers play hard in a close loss, blow out everyone left on their schedule and end up in a NC rematch with Bama where hopefully they will lose again. RTR.  

Since: Oct 11, 2008
Posted on: October 30, 2011 9:16 pm

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Typical Bama fan  they are the best and nobody will be better, you are the probably the same ones who call the finebaum show and complain after he said that you are going to win but he gave the advantage to LSU's Quarterbacks being they have experience at the back up position.  Long story short the game will be Saturday night less than a week away and as a die hard LSU fan I cannot wait, no matter what the outcome will be it will be of epic ratings and values.  A great game of the ages and the young LSU fan at the bottom the 2003 LSU team to me was better and greater class of athletes no off the field issues and the team was a team.  It is sad that every week we wonder who is going to be suspended next or what stupid thing has happened.  Any way bama lovers and good luck because the honey badger will be back and he doesn't care.

Since: Sep 8, 2011
Posted on: October 30, 2011 8:22 pm

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

I LOVE it when LSU fans talk this much. Hopefully their team will come in the same way - far too overconfident. As far as this being the best college team loopdog has seen in his lifetime, I must surmise that he must be two years old or less....because this LSU team isn't even as good as the '09Bama team. They have several good running backs but no great ones and two ok quarterbacks that would not start on many teams. They also gave up far more yards to West Virginia than they should have.  I think LSU is very, very good. But greatest team for a lifetime - please excuse me if I don't buy the hype.

Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: October 30, 2011 8:12 pm

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

You must be very young. This LSU team is good but let's see what thay can do against what may be one of the best college defenses of the past decade and maybe longer. All I will say is "ROLL TIDE ROLL" !!!!!!

Since: Jun 23, 2011
Posted on: October 30, 2011 7:43 pm

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Don't think Gary and Tim have to worry about a rematch. It will be a beat down of epic proportions. LSU is probably the best college team I have seen in my lifetime. Including USC of '04 or Miami of '01. Alabama is good but LSU is great. All the analyzing and figureing out of X's & O's and compiling statistics will not tell you who the winner will be. That will be deciding this Saturday. Good Luck ,bama, Go Tigers !

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