Alabama Football: 4 Advantages the Tide Has over LSU
The 2012 season is almost upon us, and the Tide has a grueling schedule. There are some tough games on the schedule, but 'Bama is only the underdog in one game this coming season.
When talking about the game, there will be plenty of Tiger fans talking about the Honey Badger and the home-field advantage.
There are plenty of reasons for the Tigers to be salivating over the game that's ahead of them. Let's look at the advantages that the Tide are banking on heading into November.
A.J. McCarron vs. Zach Mettenberger
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Zach Mettenberger is 8-of-11 for 92 yards and one touchdown so far in his college career. All of those passes came against Northwestern State in 2011. He tacked on a three-yard run against Ole Miss later in the season.
Against Mettenberger's stats, the Tide brings in A.J. McCarron. McCarron is the first sophomore ever to win a BCS national title, and has fairly impressive stats to boot. He was 219-of-328 for 2,634 yards and 16 touchdowns last year with only five interceptions thrown.
McCarron has two years of experience and one of them as a starter. Mettenberger may carry the nickname Mettsiah for the LSU Tigers, but McCarron is better in every aspect of the game.
If the game was decided by quarterbacks alone, 'Bama would be the heavy favorite.
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Alabama's offensive line was one of the best (if not the absolute best) units in the country in 2011, and returns all but one member.
While William Vlachos's presence will be missed, Barrett Jones is all-but guaranteed to take his place. Jones has earned award after award at the Capstone, and will likely earn All-American honors again as the center in 2012.
This offensive line has committed itself to improving on last year's edition. Even if they miss, they should dominate LSU's defensive line.
This will allow McCarron to fire at-will to his open receiver...or open receivers.
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This debate will rage until "the game," especially if Alabama manhandles the Michigan Wolverines and the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The Alabama defense has had the following rankings in the Saban era:
2008: Tied for third with Tennessee, who played two fewer games.
(The 2007 season was left out, as the majority of Saban's first class wouldn't see meaningful playing time until 2008.)
In 2011, Alabama led the nation with 183.6 yards per game allowed. The second-place finisher was LSU with 261.5 yards per game allowed.
If Alabama's defense falls by 50 yards per game, they would still have been the best defense in the nation last year.
Yes, the Crimson Tide defense needs to develop quickly, but it's quite possible that Saban and Smart will team up to form yet another top-five vicious squad that will stop opponents at the 50 all season long.
Nick Saban vs. Les Miles
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Saban and Miles have faced off at least once a year since Saban rejoined the ranks of college football's elite conference. The matches have yielded the following results:
2007: LSU 41, Alabama 34
2008: Alabama 27, LSU 21 (OT)
2009: Alabama 24, LSU 15
2010: LSU 24, Alabama 21
2011: LSU 9, Alabama 6 (OT) and Alabama 21, LSU 0
The head-to-head record is 3-3 between the two coaches, and Alabama has only outscored LSU in the series 133-110.
These teams show up to play every year, and the game is usually decided by a touchdown or less. With Saban and the Tide poised to tip the scales in Saban's favor with one performance, look for the Tide to lay waste to the LSU defense.
This year will look a lot like 2009 for the Crimson Tide. The exception being that the terrifyingly close game will come at the hands of LSU instead of Tennessee.