In 1997, the Florida Gators came into Baton Rouge ranked No. 1, but the Tigers did not let the top-ranked hype intimidate them as they pulled off the win, beating Florida 28-21. This was the last time a top-ranked team came into Death Valley, but Saturday, Alabama comes to Tiger Stadium ranked No. 1—and this is only half of the hype that surrounds this game.
This will be the first time Nick Saban will come into Tiger Stadium after leaving LSU to go to the Miami Dolphins after the 2004 season. He coached the Dolphins for two seasons before accepting the head coaching position at Alabama. In only his second season as the Crimson Tide head coach, Bama is ranked No. 1 with a record of 9-0.
LSU is 5-2 and ranked No. 15. The Tigers have an inexperienced quarterback, and their defense has allowed 50+ points in two games this season. On surface, this game looks like a penciled-in victory for Alabama, but if you break it down, the Tigers have a legit shot to win this game.
Turnovers will be the key in this game. This sounds cliché, and I feel like I am stating the obvious, but LSU’s quarterback Jarrett Lee cannot throw INTs. Lee has 10 INTs this year, five of which were TD INTs. Two of the five were thrown in the Georgia game in which Lee threw a total of three INTs.
Alabama might put nine on the line and force LSU to beat them in the air. This seems to be the logical approach, but if LSU is successful and Lee does not throw INTs, it could turn around and bite Alabama. Brandon LaFell has 11 more receptions than Bama’s freshman stud Julio Jones, and LaFell has played one fewer game than Jones.
On the other side of the field, Demetrius Byrd is as much of a threat as LaFell. Byrd has 24 receptions for 376 yards and three TDs.
Despite the turnovers, LSU has the upper hand on offense, but it is the other side of the ball that is in question. As mentioned, LSU has given up 50+ points this year against Florida and Georgia. The defensive line is not as advertised, but hopefully the Tigers will change their scheme up this weekend and put more pressure on the quarterback.
Instead of using the linebackers as a brace for the secondary, the Tigers have to bring them in and put pressure on John Parker Wilson. Alabama does not have anyone else that can line up behind center, and John Parker Wilson is average at best. Don’t let him get the ball to Julio Jones, and Bama will not beat you in the air.
The Crimson Tide will have to live and die on the running game, and if they are forced to run, LSU’s defense will be able to have better control of the game.
Big plays won the game for Florida and Georgia against LSU, but Bama is not a big play team, and this will be in the Tigers' favor.
Breaking it down is not my strong point, but if you request it I will deliver. For LSU, this will be a game similar to the South Carolina game. South Carolina is a good team, but they are not a big play team. When looking at the numbers, I do not see anything that sticks out that convinces me that LSU cannot win this game.