LSU vs. Alabama: Dynamic Offenses Will Be on Display in SEC Clash

Tim KeeneyContributor INovember 7, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 26:  T.J. Yeldon #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide against Cameron Sutton #23 and LaDarrell McNeil #33 of the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 26, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The last five games between Alabama and LSU have featured 158 total points—or just 31.6 per contest. 

The over/under for Saturday's crucial SEC battle, which, for the umpteenth time in a row, has major national title implications? 55. 

So, why the anticipated change? Well, with a little improved quarterback play here, some Cam Cameron there and talented playmakers at skill positions everywhere, it's not difficult to imagine the typical defensive battle turning into an offensive slugfest. 

Let's start with the underdog. 

The Tigers went out and hired Cameron as their offensive coordinator, and the results have been better than expected. 

The former Baltimore Ravens OC has completely opened up this offense. Or as Nick Saban puts it, via Mike Herndon of, he simply puts players in position to succeed:

Perhaps his most notable impact has been on quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

After struggling through bouts of inconsistency in 2012, Mettenberger has improved his passing accuracy (65.4) by nearly seven percentage points and his yards per attempt average (10.8) by over three yards, and he has already thrown seven more touchdowns (19) than he did last year. 

His transformation under Cameron has opened up opportunities for electric wide receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, who have both looked every bit the part of early draft picks. 

Beckham, one of the most dangerous big-play threats in America, has tallied 1,009 receiving yards on just 48 receptions—a silly 21.0 yards per catch. He is also dynamic in the return game, as he leads the nation with 616 kick return yards. 

That makes Landry one of the most productive No. 2 receivers—if you can call him that—around. The junior has 58 catches for 882 yards and eight scores on the season. 

Then you have the strong, downhill-running Jeremy Hill keeping the Tigers offense balanced with 922 rushing yards (on 7.2 YPC) and 12 touchdowns.

Put it all together, and LSU is averaging 456.0 yards and 39.2 points per contest, giving fans in Baton Rouge their best offense since the 2007-08 season. 

Of course, their SEC West rivals aren't too shy about scoring points either. 

While Cameron and LSU have been more effective through the air (third in yards per pass, 36th in yards per throw), the Crimson Tide have stuck to the identity that has brought three national championships in four years—a smash-mouth run game.

Behind future NFLer T.J. Yeldon (115 carries, 729 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Kenyan Drake (63 carries, 491 yards, seven touchdowns), Nick Saban's squad is ninth in the country in yards per rush and incredibly difficult to beat in the trenches. 

Through the air, AJ McCarron has been just a notch above game manager, but he has played his role brilliantly, completing 69.4 percent of his throws for 8.91 yards per attempt, 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions. 

He has four legitimate targets—Kevin Norwood, DeAndrew White, Amari Cooper and Christion Jones—who can each beat a defense on any given night. 

The Tide are averaging 462.8 yards and 41.2 points per game, remarkably similar numbers to LSU. 

Yes, this is still the physical SEC, and yes, both teams boast terrific defenses. 

But you can still score on them—just ask Texas A&M and Georgia—and with the amount of talent on each offensive side of the ball, there will be fireworks on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.