LSU vs. Alabama: Not Too Early to Preview the Game of the Year

Sean LansingContributor IOctober 9, 2011

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 06:  Julio Jones #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide avoids a tackle by Patrick Peterson #7 of the Louisiana State University Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  The Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide 24-21.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

When the Tigers and the Tide meet Nov. 5, it is possible that the two best defenses to ever play on Saturday will grace the field. 

Both are physical, both are fast, and both are capable of shutting out their opponent every week.

Both also rank in the top 10 in scoring defense, the top five in total yards allowed, and the top 10 in rush defense. 

So, who has the edge?

Conventional wisdom would tell you that, with two defenses so evenly matched, the team with the best offense is going to emerge victorious in early November. 

If that's the case, you can expect Alabama to roll, right?

Trent Richardson and the Crimson Tide offense average almost 230 yards rushing per game after all, and they put up about 38 points every Saturday, good for 23rd in the nation. 

Surely that kind of output trumps Jarrett Lee and the much-maligned LSU attack. 

Not so fast. Big names and big plays are great, but they don't necessarily spell out a better offense.

Although Alabama has a superstar back in Richardson and ranks well ahead of the Tigers in both passing and rushing offense, LSU actually averages more points per game than the Tide. 

The difference is negligible (less than a point, actually), but not many people would have guessed that the Jordan Jefferson-less Tigers were in the top 20 nationally in scoring offense. 

Now that we all know the Tide and Tigers are pretty even on offense too, who will win this titanic SEC showdown?

Typically, the Tide would get the nod for playing in Tuscaloosa, but how rattled can a team that calls Death Valley home get on the road? 

As far as coaching goes, nobody doubts the genius of Nick Saban and Les Miles is known as the Mad Hatter for a reason.

Even still, you can't argue with success. Miles unorthodox and seemingly unorganized ways earned him a ring, too. 

Clearly, neither team has an edge. LSU and Alabama are the cream of the college football crop this season (apologies to Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Boise State), and anything can happen when they meet.

Chances are it will be a low-scoring affair that all but punches the winner's ticket to New Orleans for a shot at the Coaches Trophy come January.