LSU will be outgunned when they play Alabama this Saturday, but that doesn't mean they won't hold advantages in Death Valley.
Nov. 3 has been a date circled on every LSU and Alabama fans' calender all year long. This is the moment fans have been waiting for. It's a time for redemption for LSU fans and it's a time for supremacy and declaration for Alabama supporters.
Before the season, this game was viewed as a showdown between two of college football's best teams, but after injuries and dismissals on LSU's behalf, Alabama comes into this game as the dominant program. LSU, on the other hand, is coming in as the underdog with a 7-1 record.
Alabama leads the SEC in all major defensive categories and is second, behind Texas A&M, in scoring offense and rushing offense.
And though Alabama sports a more efficient offense, a more dominant defense and an undefeated record, the Tigers will compete against the Crimson Tide with these advantages.
Death Valley truly is a place where opponents dreams "come to die." (via shreveporttimes.com)
This stadium lives up to its legend. It's haunting, it's loud and it has the ability to cause earthquakes. In other words, it's a nightmare for visitors, and this Saturday night, Death Valley may be the loudest it's ever been.
Why? Because it has to be. In order for LSU to win this game, the Tigers must disrupt Alabama's efficiency on offense. Easier said than done, right?
After all, we're talking about an offense that's averaging 40.6 points per game, 214 rushing yards per game and 222 passing yards this season. And by the way, Alabama only has six turnovers in 2012.
But, hey, LSU's defense isn't too bad either, allowing just 14.6 points per game, but it may need a little help to rattle Alabama's offense. There's not a better-equipped atmosphere in which to do so than Death Valley.
Heck, there's a reason LSU holds the nation's largest home-winning streak in the FBS with 22.
Brad Wing's having somewhat of a sophomore slump.
Wing hasn't been as effective punting this season as he was last year in his freshman season. Wing is fourth in the SEC in punting, averaging 43.9, which is down from his 44.4 yards per punt average in 2011.
Still, Wing is a valuable commodity in this matchup.
Field position is key when two dominant defenses collide, and LSU's Wing has a strong enough leg to turn the field position in LSU's favor.
Forcing Alabama to drive the length of the field rather than giving them a short field could make all the difference.
Can you imagine how difficult it must be to deal with Nick Saban this week?
The reason Saban will most certainly be on edge this week is because he knows this is the game that can potentially cost his team a shot at the national championship. Well on second thought, it could cost Alabama a shot at the SEC Championship.
Alabama is the No. 1 team in the country, is expected to beat LSU and clearly has the best team in the country.
But nothing's more dangerous than a team with nothing to lose, especially when playing at home with a hostile crowd behind them. Alabama will not only have to beat LSU, but it will have to live up to the expectations of being college football's best team.
Can Alabama handle the pressure?
It's all about changing the pace for LSU.
To put it kindly, LSU's offense isn't near as efficient as Alabama's. With Zach Mettenberger under center, this team has struggled to move the football, especially early in the game.
That's why Les Miles has resorted to putting in Spencer Ware at quarterback and running the football with him. That could also lead Miles to putting Ware in the shotgun and running more Wildcat-based plays.
Lining up and running it down Alabama's throat isn't going to get the job done, as LSU's 21-0 loss to Alabama in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game proved.
But a Wildcat offense with Ware, Rob Bolden or Russell Shepard receiving the snap could. Expect Miles to pull a wild card of sorts Saturday.
Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon are fantastic running backs, but LSU has more depth at the position.
But LSU has four running backs who are more than capable of carrying the load for the Tigers.
The Tigers have a bruiser in Spencer Ware, a beast in Kenny Hilliard, a speedster in Michael Ford and a freshman sensation in Jeremy Hill.
There isn't a deeper running back rotation in the country.
No team has been able to get to AJ McCarron and force him to throw an interception this season.
That's because no team that Alabama has faced has the capability to get to the quarterback quite like LSU.
With top NFL draft prospects in Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery at the defensive end positions and explosive playmakers like Anthony Johnson on the inside, LSU should be able to get to McCarron.
LSU's defensive coordinator John Chavis will likely use schemes to free up freshman safety Micah Eugene and allow him to rush the quarterback, much like the Tigers used Tyrann Mathieu all last season. The Tigers have been successful thus far, as they are third in the conference with 23 sacks this season.
However, Alabama's offensive line is the best in the business. But if there's any team's pass rush that can get pressure on McCarron, it's LSU's.
Calm down Alabama fans—this is in know way insinuating that Miles is a better coach than Saban.
He is, however, more unpredictable. You simply never know what you're going to get with Miles. He can either play it conventional with a run-heavy offense, or he can go for it on fourth down or call fake field goals.
That's why they call Miles the "Mad Hatter." Who knows what's going on under that big white hat.
In a game in which the Tigers are seemingly outmanned, one Mad Hatter call could be the difference between an LSU loss and an LSU victory.