Photo: USA Today Sports
#13 LSU (7-2, 3-2) at #1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0)
Saturday, 8 PM EST, CBS
Line: Alabama by 11
Over the last six years, the SEC West has sent either Alabama or LSU to the SEC Championship game five times. In those five games, Alabama or LSU has come out of the Championship Game as the winner four times. This has been the most important game in the SEC regular season for the last several years and it will be very crucial again this season.
Alabama comes into this game as the 800 pound gorilla. After going to College Station and exacting revenge on the Texas A&M Aggies, the Crimson Tide have breezed through their opponents. Since beating the Aggies, the Tide have outscored their opponents 246 to 26.
LSU comes into this game looking to improve their play on the road. The Tigers are 7-2 on the season but they are just 1-2 in true road games with losses to Georgia and Ole Miss. The last time Les Miles and the Tigers ventured to Bryant-Denny Stadium they came away with the memorable 9-6 overtime win in 2011 and they will look to duplicate that this weekend.
For Alabama to win: The Crimson Tide have won 25 of their last 26 so I'm not sure they need my advice. Alabama should stick with their formula. Pound the football, throw the ball to keep teams honest and play great defense.
For LSU to win: In both of LSU's losses this season they haven't ran the ball particularly well. Against Georgia, they totaled just 77 yards and averaged only 2.1 ypc. Against Ole Miss they ran for 114 yards. Those are the two lowest outputs of the year for LSU as they are averaging 230 yards on the ground in their wins. A successful ground game will open up the defense for Zach Mettenberger to find Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry.
Key Player, Alabama: C.J. Mosley, LB. The senior linebacker is the best player on Alabama's defense and he will be key in stopping Jeremy Hill and the LSU ground game. He's also great in pass coverage and Mettenberger needs to know where Mosley is at on every play unless he wants to pay the price with a costly turnover.
Key Player, LSU: Jeremy Hill, RB. Last year, Hill had 107 yards and 1 TD against Alabama. LSU came very close to beating Alabama and this year they will need a similar performance from Hill. Look for the Tigers to feed Hill and if he can get in rhythm then the Tigers will have good chance to pull off the "upset".
Key Stat: The last six regular season meetings between these two teams have each been decided by less than ten points and have had an average margin of victory of 5.3 points.
As an LSU fan, the "X" factor continues to be coaching. The level of talent between these two teams is very similar... in fact I'd argue that LSU has better players at quarterback, receiver and running back this year in terms of pure talent and ability. Unfortunately anytime these two teams take the field, Alabama comes in with a huge X's and O's advantage as Nick Saban is just much more prepared than Les Miles. So it's an uphill battle for LSU due to a distinct disadvantage in the coaching department. From a pure talent standpoint, though, there is no question LSU is every bit as good if not better.
@SaintsNation Being outcoached by Alabama isn't a LSU exclusive thing. Generally speaking, Bama is going to out coach just about every team they play on their schedule. I do like Cam Cameron and I like John Chavis a lot. Les, being Les, sometimes can actually be a plus. LSU's record against Bama and Saban has to be better than anybody else in the SEC over the same time (except Sumlin who is 1-1).
In terms of talent, generally speaking I agree with you but I do think that this years Bama team has more talent than this years LSU team but LSU was gutted by the draft last season. As a Georgia fan, the LSU defense just looked porous and I just don't know if they can stop the Bama offense (even though it's not exactly a juggernaut).