LSU vs Alabama Predictions: Why LSU Will Win the Game with Special Teams

Johnathan CaceCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05:  Brad Wing #38 of the LSU Tigers punts from the end zone during the second half of the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

For all of the credit LSU’s offense gets for scoring points, the special teams of the Tigers are really what keeps them moving.

You may be surprised to hear that they rank 12th out of 120 teams in points scored per game but just 74th in offensive yards per game. That type of discrepancy comes from winning the field position battle on special teams.

Brad Wing is one of the best punters in the game and booted one an incredible 73 yards in his first game against Alabama. In a game decided by missed field goals, the importance of pinning your opponent back that far cannot be understated.

But he isn’t the only guy doing a great job. His coverage unit is the best in the country, allowing under half a yard per return, and is one of three teams allowing under 10 total return yards on the year.

So not only are teams forced to field punts deep in their own territory, but the odds of them taking it anywhere are next to nothing.

On the other side of things, Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne are two of the best return men in the game right now, combining for three returns for touchdowns, including one in each of the last two games.

Alabama is 20th in punt return defense and 61st in kickoff return defense, which are both respectable numbers, but compared to what LSU does, the Tide are simply no match.

It is unlikely that the rematch of these teams will be another race to nine points, but the LSU Tigers are in a class by themselves when it comes to special teams, and if they win the game, you can bet they won the special teams battle as well.