Blog Entry

LSU-Alabama Daily, Nov. 4: The prediction

Posted on: November 4, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 5:05 pm
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Posted by Jerry Hinnen

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




DAYS REMAINING TO KICKOFF: 1, or the number of times -- it bears repeating -- No. 1 and No. 2 have met in a regular season SEC game as of this Saturday night. Tune in, and you'll be seeing something that quite literally has never happened before in college football. That the two teams are entirely worthy of their rankings (as best we can tell) is just the icing on the cake.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Who wins?

We've spent two weeks and thousands upon thousands of words breaking down this game here at the LSU-Alabama Daily, and the only thing we feel completely certain about is that you can't be certain of a winner in a matchup like this. When nearly every advantage one team has over the other is the kind of advantage you have to split hairs in naming it an advantage at all, it's it's fair to call it an out-and-out "tossup" or "coinflip." We fully expect the game to come down to one play, and with both teams loaded to the gills with the sort of athletes who could make that play, the winner truly is anybody's guess.

But since it's no fun not making a guess all the same, we'll offer one here. We've given LSU slight edges in special teams and quarterbacking, Alabama slight edges in the running game, front seven and secondary (though we know LSU partisans will debate that last one fiercely). On paper, as you'd expect, it's just about even.

But we think one of the edges, even if slight, is worth more than others: Alabama's in the front seven. Thanks to their relative weakness at linebacker, LSU already has trouble defending the run without bringing in help from the secondary; as we've noted, nearly all of the Tigers' top tacklers are safeties and corners. Against some of the quarterbacks the Tigers have faced, this hasn't an issue, but vs. a well-drilled AJ McCarron playing at home? It easily could be.

Mark Barron of course also ranks amongst the Tide's top tacklers, but for the most part, Nick Saban is happy to let his front seven stop the run on their own. And though that's easier said than done vs. Spencer Ware and Co., the boost of adrenaline and energy provided by the home crowd should make it a more achievable goal.

In short: even if Trent Richardson doesn't have his usual gaudy day on the ground, he's almost certain to force the LSU defensive backs to cheat up and open holes for the passing game. We can't say the same for the LSU ground game, and we think Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson's greater difficulty finding those holes could prove to be the difference.

(One other minor factor worth mentioning about LSU's linebackers: they'll be the ones responsible for dealing with Alabama's screen game, bar-none the best in the country. When caught between getting stuffed on the ground and throwing into the teeth of the opponent's vicious secondary, Alabama still has the option of going to Richardson and forcing either Ryan Baker or Kevin Minter to make a play; with only seven receptions on the season [or barely a quarter of the 25 pulled in by the Richardson-Eddie Lacy tag team], Ware doesn't offer the same kind of alternative for LSU.)

There's that, and then there's simply this: we don't think anyone's beating this Alabama team in Alabama. When everything else is equal -- and we think things are ever-so-slightly unequal, in the Tide's favor -- take the home team.

So we are. Alabama 23, LSU 17.



THE LATEST FROM TUSCALOOSA: By this point, there's not a whole lot left for either team to say or report. Saban himself enjoyed his usual Thursday radio call-in show but didn't have much of interest to discuss where the game was concerned. He did say that LSU has "the best special teams" in the country and "probably the best running team" since Les Miles's arrival.

Perhaps the most intriguing pre-game point? CBSSports.com RapidReporter Jim Dunn reports that Tide players have made allusions to unseen tricks still in Saban's and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart's bag, since the long series of Tide bludgeonings hasn't required much in the way of schematic ingenuity. This could be a plus for the Tide--but we have no doubt LSU's equally lopsided series of wins means John Chavis and the LSU defense can say precisely the same.

Alabama's players have studiously avoided smack talk of any kind, including pointedly refusing to address Deangelo Peterson's claim that the Tide's "slow" linebackers wouldn't be able to cover him. So maybe it's fitting that maybe the most eyebrow-raising comment of the week comes from receiver Darius Hanks about ... the Tide's own former players?

"Last year, the leadership wasn't there like we needed it to be," Hanks said of the team's 2010 defeat in Baton Rouge. "This year, we have many leaders at every position." So, Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones ... you guys' thoughts on that?

Not that everyone would disagree with Hanks. An anonymous "veteran coach who's faced both Alabama and LSU this season" spoke to the Bimringham News and said the game would come down to McCarron making the throws needed to win the game--throws the coach pointedly said McElroy didn't make last year.



THE LATEST FROM BATON ROUGE: It's not just the pundits who are saying the two teams are strikingly similar for a game like this: LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers told reporters that after watching film, going up against Alabama is like "looking in a mirror."

Push is going to have to come to shove when it comes to coaching trends. Miles has gone a sparkling 10-3 in his last 13 games after bye weeks or in bowl games, and an even better 11-1 in road night games ... so it's too bad Saban has gone 12-0 in his last 12 vs. coaches who defeated him the year before.

We suppose this was inevitable:



Yes, that's Miles appearing in a government-sponsored advertisement for Louisiana-grown turfgrass.

"Nothing beats Louisiana-grown turfgrass," Miles is quoted as saying in the spot. "It's local, fresh and reliable. And it's the grass of champions, whether you chew it for luck or not." It's always nice when you see a celebrity endorser who you know really does use the product they're shilling for, isn't it?



SIGNING OFF: Here's hoping you've enjoyed our two-week run here with the LSU-Alabama Daily. For more, check out Dennis Dodd's take on whether the game deserves the "Game of the Century" tag, Bruce Feldman's and Brett McMurphy's predictions for the game, BCS expert Jerry Palm's take on whether we could see a rematch, and enough LSU-Alabama videos to just about take you up to gametime.
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Comments

Since: Nov 5, 2011
Posted on: November 5, 2011 9:51 pm
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Nov. 4: The prediction

The announcers in this game suck! They completely missed a huge LSU play, by screaming interception! Then promptly ignored the best pass completion of the whole game. They are so lopsided in favor of AL and it is very unprofessional!!!



Since: Nov 1, 2011
Posted on: November 5, 2011 7:21 pm
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Nov. 4: The prediction

Wow draper that is a bold prediction, I hope your right - I have problem with Alabama but I hate Saban!!!!


draper1997
Since: Apr 16, 2009
Posted on: November 5, 2011 7:08 pm
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™CENATION-HLR™
Since: Jul 28, 2011
Posted on: November 5, 2011 6:22 pm
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Since: Nov 5, 2011
Posted on: November 5, 2011 11:35 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Nov. 4: The prediction

Great pick. Couldn't help but notice you picked Bama in last years game too! How did that turn out for you? 



Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: November 5, 2011 2:24 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Nov. 4: The prediction

I couldn't agree more. I'm as biased as they come, but McCarron is going to have to make me a believer tomorrow. I think Bama may get some field goals, but I don't see Bama doing a whole lot in the red zone. 



Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: November 5, 2011 1:23 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Nov. 4: The prediction

LSU wins this game by double digits 24-10. Mccaron and the passing game won't keep the LSU defense honest and they will be able to man cover on the outside and plug up the box to stop Richardson who will be held to a meager 50 or so yards.  



Since: Oct 7, 2010
Posted on: November 5, 2011 12:31 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Nov. 4: The prediction

LSU will win this game. 24-21 LSU. It will be a fight to the end and LSU will win it on a 35 yrd field goal with less than 2 min remaining.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com