LSU vs. Alabama 2013: Key Players Who Must Come Up Big in Weekend's Biggest Game

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2013

Aug 31, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; LSU Tigers running back Jeremy Hill (33) warms up before the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday's best action, and easily one of the highlights of the 2013 season, occurs when No. 13 LSU travels to take on No. 1 Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in a pivotal SEC clash.

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have a third straight national championship in mind, while Les Miles and LSU simply look to keep the total in the loss column at two.

The Tigers always seem to play the Crimson Tide tough and would love nothing more than to pull off a stunning upset to ruin Alabama's national championship aspirations. It's a tall order on the road, but with nothing to lose, fans know Miles' team will be willing to try anything to pull out the win.

Here is a look at how the two sides compare, followed by a few key players who will determine the outcome of the game. Enjoy.

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 13 LSU Tale of the Tape
Crimson Tide Category Tigers
41.3 (11th) Points For 40.2 (16th)
9.8 (1st) Points Against 21.9 (31st)
252 (51st) Passing Yards 279.4 (28th)
210.8 (26th) Rushing Yards 200.6 (33rd)
462.8 (35th) Total Yards 480 (22rd)


AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama

Oct 19, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) passes against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

There is no question AJ McCarron is having a superb senior year. He's thrown for well over 1,800 yards to go with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions with a 69.4 completion percentage.

There's also no question McCarron will be strongly backed by a pair of productive runners in T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake, who have combined thus far for 1,220 yards and 17 touchdowns.

LSU is no slouch against the run, but the combo of Yeldon and Drake will wear down the defense as the game wears on, meaning McCarron will have an advantage when taking to the air.

The key is for McCarron to remain consistent and, most importantly, take care of the football. With the way Alabama has steamrolled the competition on the way to 41.3 points per game, it should be more than enough against the Tigers.


Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

Oct 12, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger (8) throws prior to a game against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

It's quite a different outlook for the Tigers, who need multiple players to perform at their highest levels to pull off the upset.

One of the major names who must be at the top of his game is senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who had a major performance against the Crimson Tide last year with 298 yards and a score.

Mettenberger is even better this season and has sexier statistics than McCarron thanks to his over 2,400 yards, 19 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

Alabama does tout the No. 1 defense in the land with just 9.8 points allowed on average, but the Crimson Tide have been susceptible through the air as the secondary has undergone shuffling consistently this season.

Mettenberger is at his best when he can sit back in a clean pocket. He's thrown for over 250 yards in seven games this season, and it's not unreasonable for Mettenberger to do so again—his team will need him to in order to win.


Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU

Far and away the most important player in Saturday's showdown is sophomore running back Jeremy Hill.

Hill has been intricately intertwined with the success or failure of the Tigers this season. In all but one of LSU's victories (he received six carries in a win over UAB) Hill has managed over 100 yards on the ground.

In two losses, Hill was held below the 100-yard threshold.

Hill was also a major part of LSU's strong performance against the Crimson Tide last year with his 107 yards and a touchdown on a 3.7 average.

When Hill is effective, it creates a ripple effect on the offense and makes things easier for Mettenberger. If Hill struggles, the Tigers have no chance of moving the ball effectively on the best defense in the country. 



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