Alabama vs. LSU: Predicting Stats and Outcome for SEC Game of the Week
The teams will meet again for the third time in two years. And much like the last couple of matchups, there is so much on the line this weekend when they square off once again.
The undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide will travel to Tiger Stadium to take on the 7-1 LSU Tigers. Both clubs are ranked in the Top 5 of the BCS rankings and the winner of this game not only will position itself for an SEC title, but will become the front-runner for a BCS National Championship berth.
Considering both of these teams met in last year’s title game, there should be a lot of emotion in this contest and it will likely result in another hard fought battle that features a bunch of defense. Both teams know each other very well and know what it is going to take to win, as nothing in this matchup is going to come easy for either side.
With the game quickly approaching, let's throw a few predictions out there and see how this game may play itself out.
A.J. McCarron, Leading Passer
Why Pick Him: The second-year starter has quickly grown up before our eyes, as he has improved his completion percentage to 68 percent and is one of only four quarterbacks in the country that has yet to throw an interception. McCarron is making excellent decisions with the football and has really given this Alabama offense a true passing game it didn't really have last year. In this situation, you have to go with the proven signal-caller and the guy that has thrown 18 touchdowns to zero picks.
Why Not Pick the Other Guy: Zach Mettenberger has been a train wreck for this LSU offense, as the Tigers are 12th in the SEC in passing yards. He is completing only 56 percent of his passes and has thrown four interceptions to seven touchdowns. The first-year starter is painfully inaccurate with the football and has only had two games all year where he has thrown for over 200 yards. The coaching staff can't feel confident in him, the fans are losing their patience and it would be foolish to think he will outperform McCarron this Saturday.
Prediction Stats: 63 percent, 217 yards and two touchdowns
Jeremy Hill, Leading Rusher
Why Pick Him: Considering LSU likely won't become a passing team in this game, as the Tigers haven't done so all season long, the coaching staff will stick to the ground and pound game. You have a plethora of backs to choose from on this squad, but you have to go with Jeremy Hill. He is the hottest back on the team at the moment and in a running back by committee, he will be the one that receives the most carries. The true freshman has run for a combined 251 yards in the last two games and should be able to make a few nice plays against a talented Alabama defense.
Why Not Pick the Other Guy: The same reason I had picked an LSU player is the same reason you could put Alabama in the list above. Both teams are terrific at stopping the run, as it has quickly become of the keys to winning a BCS National Championship. However, with Alabama having a much more complete passing game, the Crimson Tide will enter this contest with a balanced game plan. We can't say the same thing for LSU, who average over 42 rushing attempts a game.
Prediction Stats: 19 carries, 76 yards and a touchdown
Amari Cooper, Leading Receiver
Why Pick Him: Amari Cooper is by far the favorite target for McCarron, as the freshman wide receiver has 32 receptions, while the next leading wideout on this team has 15. He also leads the team with five touchdown receptions and has produced five plays that have gone for over 25 yards. The first-year player is a tough cover, as he runs excellent routes and is about as sure handed as they come. McCarron will continue to look for this guy early and often.
Why Not Pick the Other Guy: This has nothing to do with the lack of talent at the receiver position for Alabama; it has more to do with the lack of confidence in Mettenberger. The Tigers have playmakers at wide receiver such as Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, but neither one of them produces consistently due to inconsistent play from the quarterback position. It is hard to imagine any of these guys having a big day this weekend.
Prediction Stats: Five receptions, 68 yards and a touchdown
Alabama, Top Defense
Why Pick These Guys: If you have read the slides previous to this one, you probably figured this is the direction I was going. We can talk all day about how one-dimensional the offense of the Tigers is, or we can breakdown some of the numbers and see just how dominant the Crimson Tide are on the defensive side of the ball. The unit is currently first in the SEC in scoring-defense, rushing-defense, passing-defense, total defense, opponent third down percentage and opponent red-zone percentage. I really shouldn't have to say any more about this.
Why Not Pick the Other Guys: LSU is not far off as defense is concerned, but certainly isn't as polished as the Crimson Tide are. This squad will also have a more difficult time defending the offense of Alabama, as it is a balanced unit that is averaging well over 400 total yards a game. Alabama is not only better in the backfield with playmaker T.J. Yeldon, but McCarron, who torched a much better secondary of LSU last year, is even better with his play this season.
Prediction Stats: Four sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble
Alabama is just on a mission this season. The defense may be even better than it was last year, as not only does it lead the conference in every major statistical category, but it has already forced 23 turnovers, which is three more than all of last season.
The defense of LSU will keep this game close, but the offense isn't polished enough to move the football consistently. Not only is this team struggling to convert on third downs, but has reached the red zone a total of 34 times and only produced 16 touchdowns. That simply is not going to get it done.
Both teams remain similar in their style of play and the weapons they have, but Alabama actually has a quarterback that can lead its team down field if the running game is stalling. That is the difference in this ball game and is the reason I can't pick against Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide in this matchup.
LSU may have Death Valley on its side in this one, but Alabama is simply too powerful on both sides of the ball to lose its first game.
Prediction: Alabama wins 24-10