LSU vs. Alabama: How Crimson Tide Can Exploit Tigers and Remain on Top

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2013

November 3, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) celebrates after throwing the go ahead touchdown pass during the fourth quarter of a win over the LSU Tigers  in a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 21-17. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson tide are in the midst of a quest for a third-consecutive national championship.

As the No. 1 team in the BCS rankings, Alabama is on the right path but must once again overcome the No. 13 LSU Tigers to keep the dream alive.

The Crimson Tide have already won five games in the SEC and lead the nation in total defense, while Les Miles' Tigers have lost two games in the conference by a combined six points.

As per the usual between these two, history goes out the window. It's certainly not the "Game of the Century," but LSU will surely give the Crimson Tide all it can handle from Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday.

Here's a look at how the two sides match up, followed by a few ways Alabama can guarantee a victory and stay on course toward another championship berth.

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 13 LSU Tale of the Tape
Crimson TideCategoryTigers
41.3 (11th)Points For40.2 (16th)
9.8 (1st)Points Against21.9 (31st)
252 (51st)Passing Yards279.4 (28th)
210.8 (26th)Rushing Yards200.6 (33rd)
462.8 (35th)Total Yards480 (22rd)

Rattle Zach Mettenberger

Oct 26, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger (8) reacts after throwing a touchdown against the Furman Paladins during the second half of a game at Tiger Stadium. LSU defeated Furman 48-16. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Crimson Tide faithful will surely remember the damage Zach Mettenberger was able to do in last year's near upset thanks to his 24-of-35 effort for 298 yards and a score.

Mettenberger has vastly improved this season and completes over 65 percent of his passes, which has translated to over 2,400 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

While Mettenberger has been great so far, his offensive line has allowed him to be sacked 14 times this season.

Alabama needs to capitalize on an opportunity to apply consistent pressure so that a secondary with a rotating array of faces has less time to be exposed. Hits early and often on Mettenberger can and will lead to mistakes.

Focus on Jeremy Hill

Jeremy Hill is the heart and soul of the LSU offense.

Alabama fans will also remember Hill's performance last year in which he rumbled for 107 yards and a score against the highly-vaunted Crimson Tide defense. While a 3.7 average does not jump off the page, it's more than what Alabama is accustomed to surrendering.

Hill has been superb this year with 922 yards and 12 touchdowns on a stellar 7.2 per-carry average, but his success directly impacts how effective Mettenberger can be.

In LSU's two losses this year, Hill has been held in check with his only sub-100 yard performances of the season while receiving 10 or more carries. That means in five of six victories (he received just six carries against UAB) Hill has gone for at least 100 yards and taken the pressure off his quarterback.

Should Alabama effectively negate Hill on the ground, Mettenberger will be forced into a predictable attack and suffer as a result.

Follow Georgia's Lead

The Georgia Bulldogs wrote the blueprint on how to defeat LSU in late September.

Then-ranked No. 9 Georgia pulled off the 44-41 upset by keeping things balanced offensively, with 34 rushes to 36 passes. Ole Miss would later use this same effective strategy to pull off a 27-24 upset of its own via 41 passes and 43 rushes.

That's a big problem for LSU—Alabama isn't Georgia or Ole Miss.

Via a steady does of T.J. Yeldon (729 yards, 10 scores) and Kenyan Drake (491 and seven), things will open up through the air for senior signal-caller A.J. McCarron, who makes few mistakes, as noted by his 16 touchdowns to three interceptions.

If the Rebels' Bo Wallace can have his best yardage total (346) of the season against the LSU secondary, so can McCarron with the backing of a dynamic duo at running back.

This will by no means lead to a blowout knowing these two teams, but Alabama can win comfortably by sticking to the basics. 


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