With the dubbed "Game of the Century" or "Tussle in Tuscaloosa" as they are calling it in 'Bama nation on Saturday, LSU will need particular players to perform to their highest ability if the Tigers want to win the battle of the top two teams in the nation and buy their ticket to the BCS National Championship in New Orleans on January 5th.
There are several players on the LSU depth chart that are usually locks to bring their A-game every week—but it's even more important against a team like Alabama as this game could be decided by as little as a single point.
Sam Montgomery gets through for the sack against Kentucky
The largest aspect surrounding the LSU Tigers game against Alabama this weekend will be their ability to stop Trent Richardson and the Crimson Tide's running game. Sam Montgomery is the Tigers best defensive lineman at penetrating the backfield.
Montgomery enters Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa with seven tackles for a loss and four sacks. He is a leader on a defensive line that has been coined "The Freaks." He will need to be at the top of his game on Saturday to help stop Trent Richardson and make plays behind the line of scrimmage to only allow short gains. If he and the rest of the Tigers' third ranked rush defense can not stop Richardson, LSU has no hope of pulling off the victory against Alabama.
The LSU Tigers will need to successfully integrate and execute their passing game in addition to their running game to have a successful offensive output against the nation's top defense on Saturday.
The Tigers have a very under utilized receiving core. Since his return from suspension, Russell Shepard has just nine receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns—far below what was expected of him this season. Reuben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. are expected to continue to increase their numbers, but the true star of the Tigers receiving core is Shepard. If the Tigers want success through the air in this game they will need all of their receivers to perform, including Shepard.
After serving his one game suspension, LSU running back Spencer Ware will need to use his powerful style to beat up the Alabama defensive line. The Crimson Tide enter the game with the best running defense in the nation, allowing just 44 yards a game. That's 30 yards less than the next closest team.
Ware has 512 yards for six touchdowns on the year. Not only will Ware need to perform, but so too Michael Ford. Most of the pressure will be on Ware however, as he is the top back on the Tigers roster. It will be highly dependent on the play of the Tigers offensive line, but Ware will need to sneak through any gaps the O-line is able to open up for him to make big gains. This will help LSU move the ball down field to put the team in position to put points on the board.
The most crucial part of the LSU Tigers offense in Tuscaloosa this weekend will be the play of starting quarterback Jarrett Lee.
Lee is finally coming into his own at the midway point of the season. He has thrown for 1250 yards, 13 touchdowns and has completed 63 percent of his passes with just one interception all season.
If Lee can keep up this kind of consistency, especially against an Alabama defense that allows 130 yards a game, the Tigers could potentially win a game expected to be a defensive battle.
Tyrann Mathieu will no doubt be on his game Saturday against Alabama, but the Tigers All-American cornerback may have to be superhuman in all aspects of his game. Mathieu has tremendous stats this season with 1.5 sacks, 43 tackles, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and two touchdowns on the year.
Apart from the numbers, Mathieu's style of play is all a coach could ask for in a player. He is a hard-nosed, blue-collar player who will do anything to get the ball back for his team.
Mathieu will especially have to try and pry the ball from the Alabama offense on Saturday to put the Tigers in position for victory. If Mathieu and Morris Claiborne team up to take away the Alabama passing game and force the Tide to run the ball all game, they will provide the Tigers with a very good chance of winning the defensive battle to victory on Saturday.