November 5 cannot come soon enough.
Alabama and LSU will square off in one of the most talked-about and hyped college football games in regular-season history. Both teams have dominated the opposition in an interestingly similar fashion and will look to do the same against each other come game time. All anyone can do right now is speculate on who they believe will come out victorious, and that is exactly what I intend to do.
Don't get me wrong, I can't see the future, but I can predict it for simpler reasons than one would think—and I'm sorry to say LSU fans, but your future does not look bright.
As stated previously, LSU and Alabama exemplify very similar teams that play exceptional defense, run the ball very well and control the clock. They both have very good offensive lines and better passing games than critics give them credit for. They also both have playmakers on both sides of the ball and Heisman candidates in Trent Richardson and Tyrann Mathieu.
Despite being so alike, Alabama is the superior team and for obvious reasons. Alabama's run defense is the best in the country and will likely shut down Spencer Ware and Michael Ford. Without the run, LSU will not be able to effectively use the play-action, something the Tigers have used lethally throughout the season. Without the run and the threat of play-action, Jarrett Lee will be the man to win the game and Alabama's secondary is just too talented to let that happen.
Numbers don't lie, and when looking at each teams' statistics from the year based on a strength-to-weakness standpoint, the numbers clearly favor Alabama.
Even as an Alabama fan, I actually enjoy watching LSU play defense, for their pass rush is a thing of beauty. No team gets after the quarterback like the LSU Tigers and they deserve all the credit in the world for that talent. Despite owning the best pass rush, that element won't help them in this game as much as the Tigers would like due to the excellent play of Trent Richardson and the rest of the Alabama running game.
Richardson is having a Heisman-type season and seems to get better after every game. The only knock he's had in the past are numerous injuries that he has sustained over time, but Richardson has stated that this is the healthiest he has ever been in his career. Alabama will look to control the game with their rushing, and while the Tigers boast a great run defense, it is not on the same level of quality as the Crimson Tide running game.
Through this, Alabama will effectively be able to run play-actions and screens for big gains. A.J. McCarron has surprised everyone with his effectiveness throughout the season, and while he won't wow anyone on Saturday, he also won't make any mistakes.
The most generic reason an analyst can give when predicting the outcome of a game would be to give the home team the advantage, and in this case, that couldn't be more accurate. One could only imagine how loud the Crimson Tide fans will be Saturday night.
With the exception of the Auburn collapse last year, Nick Saban's squads seemed to have an automatic W when playing in Bryant-Denny. To give LSU credit, I believe they are a very mature, well-coached team that does not falter to opposing crowds as other teams most likely would, but the crowd will undoubtedly affect them. A few mental errors and costly timeouts can change a game, and Alabama certainly has that in their favor.
The coaching duel between Nick Saban and Les Miles will be an exciting one to watch, for Saban employs a conservative approach, while Miles seems to always have a few tricks up his sleeve for every situation. Miles' uncanny approach has certainly helped LSU this season, but has also hurt them in the past. Saban is not fazed by anyone or anything and is arguably the best coach in college football, and due to that title, along with his history in big games, will out-coach Les Miles in this upcoming battle.
For these simple reasons alone, Alabama has the clear edge in this matchup of juggernauts. I would like to reiterate how good LSU really is, for when Alabama defeats them, they will have defeated a much tougher opponent than any team the 2009 national championship-winning team did.
Although this is just a prediction, one thing is definitely for sure, and that is that this game will be a great one.
Running Backs: Alabama
Receivers: Slight edge to LSU
Offensive Line: Tie
Defensive Line: LSU
Return Game: Alabama
Prediction: Alabama 24 LSU 20