SEC Football Q&A: Who Wins the Battle in the Trenches Between Alabama and LSU?

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SEC Football Q&A: Who Wins the Battle in the Trenches Between Alabama and LSU?
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Every Thursday on The SEC Blog, we feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email at

You have SEC questions, and I have SEC answers. Thank you for your questions. If I didn't get to them this week, they will be saved and used in the future.

And we're off!

When Alabama has the ball, definitely the Crimson Tide.

You're right about their offensive line struggling early this season. It was downright dreadful against Virginia Tech in the opener, and was average-at-best during the first month of the season.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Alabama head coach Nick Saban

But it has come on strong lately. Guard Arie Kouandjio seems to be over his early-season jitters, brother Cyrus at tackle isn't as prone to holding calls, Ryan Kelly seems to have developed nicely at center, and when he went out, Chad Lindsay filled in admirably. 

They've allowed the fewest tackles for loss in the SEC this season (32) and have only given up seven sacks—tied with Arkansas for the fewest in the conference.

Meanwhile, LSU's front four has been hit-or-miss lately. They looked good against Furman and Florida, but gave up 216 rushing yards to Mississippi State and gave up 105 rushing yards to backup Ole Miss running back Jaylen Walton, who was filling in for Jeff Scott.

The Program: Is Alabama's Offense Too Much for LSU?

When LSU has the ball, I'd say it's the Tigers who have the advantage up front.

LSU has only given up 37 tackles for loss this season in one more game than Alabama (32) has played. They can get downfield and open holes for running back Jeremy Hill, even against a defense that's a physical as Alabama's front seven.

Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide has struggled to get opponents in negative situations. They've stopped opponents behind the line just 36 times this season—13th in the SEC and 116th in the nation.

So, to put it simply, it's not going to be a 9-6 slugfest like this game was two years ago. Both defenses are decent, but there will be some points scored in Tuscaloosa.

The Program: Will Alabama Contain LSU's Offense?

No, I think there will be two SEC teams in the BCS this season.

Right now, I have Alabama in the title game and Auburn running the table up to the Iron Bowl, losing to the Crimson Tide and getting the Sugar Bowl berth.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

But even if the Tigers stub their toe along the way, Missouri could easily get into that Sugar Bowl if it loses to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, as could South Carolina or even Texas A&M.

A bowl game would likely be the last college game for Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel, so if the Aggies can get into the final Top 14 and insert themselves into the pool of at-large teams, it'd be hard for a BCS game to pass up on Manzielmania.

The SEC will get a second team in the BCS, regardless of how the dominoes fall around the country during the final month of the season.

The Program: Breaking Down Auburn's Zone Read

Arkansas is much more likely to get a win.

The only way Florida fires Will Muschamp this season is if the Gators go 5-7, which would likely require a loss to Vanderbilt this weekend.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Arkansas RB Alex Collins

Arkansas is in a free fall after losing six straight games, but there's a bright light on the horizon in the form of the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Dan Mullen's crew sits at 4-4 and will travel to Arkansas on the next-to-last weekend of the year after games against South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama—all of which are Top 15 teams. 

The Bulldogs will be beat up, and Arkansas will have two weeks to prepare for the home tilt.

Advantage: Arkansas, despite the fact that Bret Bielema's crew hasn't done much to instill confidence in Hog Nation of late.

Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at

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