LSU vs. Alabama is being hyped as a "Game of the Century," and much of the allure of this particular game comes from the fact that both of these SEC defenses are ranked in the top five in almost every category. Alabama's defense leads the nation in both scoring defense and total defense, while LSU is third in scoring defense and fourth in total defense.
However, the offenses are also quite phenomenal, as Alabama's is 11th nationally in scoring, while LSU's is 12th. A closer look at the offenses further lends to the "Game of the Century" buzz, and is helpful in better understanding the important matchups for this game.
Points per game: 39.3 (tied for 12th nationally)
Yards per game: 372.1
Passing Yards per game: 188.3
Rushing Yards per game: 189.0
As far as the quarterback position is concerned, the Tigers are led by senior Jarrett Lee, who has thrown for 1,250 yards and 13 touchdowns against only one interception, with a passer rating of 157.4. His favorite target is Rueben Randle, who has 32 receptions for 638 yards and 7 touchdowns.
LSU has three different running backs who have each received at least 50 carries this season: Spencer Ware, Michael Ford and Alfred Blue. Between the three of them they have 1,175 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Points per game: 39.4 (11th nationally)
Yards per game: 457.7
Passing Yards per game: 237.4
Rushing Yards: 229.3
Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron has thrown for 1,664 yards and 10 touchdowns against three interceptions, with a passer rating of 150.4. His leading receiver is Marquis Maze, who has 39 catches for 482 yards and one touchdown. Heisman candidate Trent Richardson leads Alabama's running backs with 989 yards and 17 touchdowns, while Eddie Lacy and Jalston Fowler have combined for 794 yards and eight touchdowns.
Despite the national perception of SEC offenses as being pass-heavy, the LSU vs. Alabama matchup features two offenses which are remarkably balanced. Both teams' rushing yards per game are within 10 yards of their respective passing yards per game.
Looking at individual matchups, the parity between the LSU and Alabama offenses is further highlighted.
Jarret Lee and AJ McCarron are very similar quarterbacks. Both are pocket passers who have few rushing attempts, and neither is putting up huge numbers in the passing game. Lee has thrown for more touchdowns and has a better passer rating, while McCarron averages more yards per game.
LSU's trio of running backs form a solid group, but lack a truly elite player. Alabama, on the other hand, has arguably the best running back in the nation in Richardson. By himself, he has more touchdowns and almost as many yards as LSU's top three running backs combined.
Alabama's receiving game is a true group effort, as eight different players have at least 100 yards receiving, and no player has more than two touchdown receptions. Conversely, LSU has a go-to receiver in Rueben Randle, who has more receiving yards than anyone on Alabama's roster, and more touchdown receptions than the top five Crimson Tide receivers combined.
Overall, the LSU and Alabama offenses are about as evenly matched as their defenses, making this "Game of the Century" a toss-up, and gives good reason as to why it is so hyped.