#1 LSU at #2 Alabama: Does it get any bigger than this?
At 8 P.M. Eastern Standard Time on Saturday, November 5, 2011, Armageddon will strike in Tuscaloosa Alabama, as the No. 1 LSU Tigers will put their 8-0 record on the line against the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide. This may as well be the National Championship Game, because these two teams are undoubtedly the two best teams in the entire nation.
Remember the first Armageddon game between Michigan and Ohio State in 2006? Michigan was 11-0, Ohio State was 11-0, and the two battled in Columbus for the Big Ten Championship and a spot in the National Championship Game. I don't know if this year's LSU/Alabama game carries as much hype as that legendary game did, but honestly I don't think the hype can get any bigger.
LSU is 8-0 for the first time since 1973, and they have won each of their eight games by double digits, if that doesn't spell dominance I don't know what does.
The Tigers' defense is stout, ranking third in the land in points allowed only yielding 11.5 a game. Their offense is rather dominant as well, ranked 13th in points per game with 39.3. Senior QB Jarrett Lee is completing 63 percent of his passes along with an excellent 13:1 touchdown to interception ratio.
While on the subject of dominance, let's take a look at Alabama. The Crimson Tide as well have won each of their eight games by double-digit margins. This defense could play in the NFL, as they are ranked first in the nation in points allowed with, get this, 6.9 points per game.
This defense isn't even giving up a touchdown a game, that is staggering. On the offensive side of things, the Crimson Tide rank 12th in the land in points per game with 39.4, and a lot of that is thanks to Heisman Trophy candidate Trent Richardson.
Richardson has been nothing less than an absolute beast this year, rushing for 989 yards on 149 carries, which is good for over six-and-a-half yards a carry. This monster also has 17 rushing touchdowns. According to an interview with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi, he can bench 475 lbs., and that's only what the strength coaches limit him to. Good luck stopping him LSU, you're going to need it.
Let's look at the keys to victory for both of these power houses, as they prepare for the game of the century.
Jarrett Lee must be effective in the passing game Saturday vs #2 Alabama
Just like its counterpart, LSU has been quite dominant defensively. On defense, the game plan is easy, stop Trent Richardson. Alabama relies heavily on the running game from both Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Alabama uses this running game to set up QB A.J. McCarron in the passing game.
Duly noted, A.J. McCarron is a very conservative passer, who loves to take what the defense gives him. On the rare occasion that he throws a deep pass, he'll over throw the receiver because that is safer than under throwing the receiver.
With this knowledge, the LSU defense needs to stack the box and keep containment with their linebackers, and the corners need to play up in the faces of the Crimson Tide Receivers.
Offensively, the Tigers are going to obviously have the toughest matchup they have had all season, going up against a defense that is allowing just 6.9 points per game. LSU is a very powerful, down hill type offense that loves to run the football with Spencer Ware. Problem is, Alabama has NFL caliber linebackers that make stopping the run look like a walk in the park.
The Tigers' best bet is to spread the Alabama defense out. Yes, The Crimson Tide have great corners in Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick, but when LSU studies film, they will notice that the Alabama corners do have a weak spot, and that is being physical with them.
LSU's receivers need to be aggressive and get off the stick at the line of scrimmage. If they use physical technique, they will be more successful in the passing game.
LSU also has a unique advantage in special teams with punter Brad Wing. Wing has shown an innate ability to use accuracy to pin the opposition deep in their own territory, this will play a huge factor in the field position game.
Trent Richardson will look to gash the LSU defense Saturday
The Crimson Tide of Alabama have barely shown a weakness the entire year, absolutely dominating its opposition week in and week out. Alabama is probably THE most physical team in the entire nation. Their defense could very easily play in the NFL, as most of the defensive players are top NFL prospects.
The Crimson Tide are going to see an offense in LSU that is very physical at the point of attack, and that loves to run the football. Let's look at what Alabama must do this Saturday to reach 9-0.
Offensively, simple game plan, feed the ball to Trent Richardson. This guy is an animal, and once he gets going it is nearly impossible to stop him. If Alabama can get their run game going early, this game is over, simple as that.
Alabama is so good, that they really don't even need a passing game. If QB A.J. McCarron is having an off day, this offense's wheels are still churning, because of who? Trent Richardson. If Richardson is struggling, then that's when McCarron will have to utilize the many talented receivers he has around him.
LSU knows though they are going to live and die by how their run defense plays, because they will feel a heavy dose of Heisman Trophy Candidate Trent Richardson.
Defensively, the Crimson Tide must slow down Spencer Ware. Both of these SEC power houses love to run the football, why? They both have great running backs and stout offensive lines, that's why. This game is going to come down to who is more physical, that's it.
Alabama must also contain LSU receiver Reuben Randle, who definitely has been a huge vertical threat this year for QB Jarrett Lee. If the LSU running game stalls early, this game could get ugly. Neither one of these teams has had to rely on their passing game once this year, so it will definitely be interesting to see how one responds if the running game stalls.
Alabama will put themselves in the driver's seat for the National Championship Game with a huge win over #1 LSU this Saturday
The winner of this game puts themselves in the drivers seat for an appearance in the National Championship game. After this game, LSU faces Western Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. Alabama has Mississippi State, Georgia Southern, and Auburn in the Iron Bowl. It will be interesting to see how the loser of this game responds in the last weeks of the regular season.
This is going to be the most physical College Football game of the entire season, without a doubt. I believe that Trent Richardson is going to keep the wheels on the Crimson Tide bus going round and round with a stellar game against LSU in front of the Alabama home crowd.
I don't think LSU has enough fire power to score consistently with this Alabama squad, I mean we're talking about a team who is not even yielding a touchdown a game, it doesn't get any more staggering than that.
Trent Richardson will rush for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns, and the Alabama defense will hold LSU to a season low 14 points. A.J. McCarron will have a respectable game, throwing for 174 yards and a touchdown.
Prediction: Alabama 28, LSU 14