These two have been together in the SEC for a long time, going way, way back to the original days of the conference, but it's been over the seven or eight years or so that this rivalry has gone to a completely different level. Alabama head coach Nick Saban's arrival in Tuscaloosa amped this rivalry just a wee bit, but it hasn't hurt that since 2007, at a minimum, one of these two squads was a top five team in the nation.
Nothing will ever be able to top last year when the two met, not once, but twice as the top two teams in the country. Even though it's not #1 vs. #2 this year, there is perhaps meat on the proverbial bone in this match up. First of all, the game is taking place in Baton Rouge where LSU has been a juggernaut the last few years, on a Saturday night, with a rowdy bunch of Cajuns looking for revenge. But, for both teams, there's the chance to win the championship of each other, not to mention the SEC West, the SEC and a potential National Championship opportunity. Other than that, it's a just game, right? (snickering)
1. Don't panic, stick to the script - LSU's defense will have success early - withstand that and fight on through.
2. Establish power run game early so as to draw S Eric Reid's attention filling in the alley so that 'Bama can…
3. …go up over the top on play action and don't be afraid to use TE Michael Williams in play action capacity as well.
4. Keep winning the turnover battle (2nd in the nation with +2 game average).
5. Get one shot early on QB Zach Mettenberger and see how he responds…and by shot, I mean a clean hard hit…really hard clean hit…you know what I mean.
1. G #65 Chance Warmack - Best run blocking lineman in college football, must dominate talented LSU DT.
2. LB #32 C.J. Mosley - Has been the team's playmaker on defense this year and doesn't miss tackles.
3. DT #54 Jesse Williams - Won't hear his name much, but you better believe LSU's OL knows blocking him is the ultimate key to winning this game.
1. Take away one facet of Alabama's run game - Can't allow 'Bama to run outside/inside zone, power and misdirection with equal success.
2. CBs must take away deep ball without safety help…
3. …that'll leave S Eric Reid the opportunity to play in the alleys, rob the middle on intermediate routes or cover the TE.
4. Use quick passing game when 'Bama plays zone and take shots downfield against cover 0 or cover 1 down the sideline.
5. Dominate halftime and make adjustments that provide different looks to Alabama to start 2nd half. Disguise coverages and blitzes. Never show the same thing defensively, in particular, and take one special teams risk.
1. DT #18 Bennie Logan - Must win at LOS against Warmack, Jones and Steen.
2. WR #3 Odell Beckham Jr. - He's got to make a big time play in this game to keep 'Bama secondary "honest".
3. LB #46 Kevin Minter - Has been a stud this season, loves to hit AND tackle anything that moves.
Keeping an eye on draft eligible players...
1. LSU DE #99 Sam Montgomery - more complete player than his teammate right now…
2. LSU DE #49 Barkevious Mingo - …but Mingo is the one that scares teams with his blinding speed
3. Alabama G #65 Chance Warmack - see comments above, can fit in zone scheme or power scheme
4. Alabama C #75 Barrett Jones - versatile, has played every position on the line during 4 yrs at 'Bama
5. LSU DT #18 Bennie Logan - DT class is stacked this year, so he could be solid find in later rounds
6. Alabama QB #10 A.J McCarron - could capitalize on weak year for QBs in this upcoming draft.
7. Alabama S #37 Robert Lester - seemingly always around the ball, whether in coverage or in run defense.
8. Alabama CB #28 Demarcus Milliner - each week he improves his standing in this year's CB class.
9. Alabama DT #54 Jesse Williams - the key to this defense, can play any position on DL, ox like strength
10. LSU S #1 Eric Reid - perhaps the best safety in the draft eligible class, love his game
I've thought about this one all season long and as Alabama has won week in and week out…okay, the Tide have dominated week in and week out, so let's be clear. Either way, as I've watched them, I've tried to think about how I would attack their weaknesses.
Now, often times weaknesses aren't displayed until a team is placed under the utmost stress (LSU's game at Florida, for example, exposed the Tigers' inept offense) and Alabama hasn't been put in that situation once. So, are there weaknesses? Sure, I'm 100% positive that Nick Saban could point out a handful of them if you gave him some truth serum, but they've not been exposed to this point.
And, I'm convinced that LSU won't be able to exploit them this weekend in Baton Rouge. LSU will compete its tail off and play hard, but as in the Florida game, the offense won't be able to move the ball effectively enough to keep its stellar defense off the field.
The Tiger defensive front will frustrate the Alabama offensive line early in the game and maybe through the entire first half, but in the second half, fatigue will set in and the Tide OL will break on through to the other side. QB A.J McCarron's interception goose egg will stay in tact, at least for this week, as he leads the Tide to a huge win on the road in the most difficult place to play on a Saturday night.
Alabama - 20 vs. LSU - 10