LSU at Alabama is quite easily the game of the year for 2011. Without hesitation, we can agree that these are the best two teams in college football.
Assuming A.J. McCarron can maintain his balanced strike pattern and Trent Richardson can command attention on every play, Alabama should come out of this victorious.
Trent Richardson has a presence that commands attention. I am reminded of the 2009 Alabama vs. South Carolina game in which Mark Ingram drove the ball all the way downfield for a touchdown after a slumping Greg McElroy was put on the bench after a sub-par performance.
South Carolina, the fans of both teams, everyone watching and even the coaches knew Ingram was going to run the ball. So...Ingram ran the ball, and all South Carolina had to do was stop him.
End result: touchdown.
I think this game will be eerily similar to that one, with the exception of the quarterback position. We all know what Alabama is going to try to do.
Everyone across the college football nation knows A.J. McCarron is a balanced striker. They all know Richardson is a beast on the field. LSU knows all the stats we are batting around, and they know what they have to do.
That is to stop Alabama from being Alabama on Saturday night.
I think there are quite a few problems with this strategy. Although lackluster first-half performances have given LSU hope that they can come out and take advantage of our “weakness,” I don't think Alabama will come out flat in this one at all
Alabama has been looking toward this game for a while, and I think they could have lost the Tennessee game and possibly the Vanderbilt game had they not gotten coached at halftime. I think this game, and the hype around it for the last month, is the reason they may have been looking past those games.
Another issue is Tyrann Mathieu. He is a star player, and loves the big stage. He was named SEC defensive player of the week for his performance against Oregon on September 5th.
I think Alabama will have early success against the LSU secondary, simply because they will try to commit to too many jobs at once. Someone will be open. Who? I don't think it matters.
McCarron has thrown to 7 receivers 10 or more times apiece and 9 receivers have at least 8 catches. Any eligible receiver is capable of making the critical conversions if and when they are called upon.
If necessary, Nick Saban has a bag of tricks that he has not used much. This game is the place to pull out all the stops. Nick Saban will find a way to win, because that's what he has trained this team to do. They are out to avenge their three losses last year, and LSU was one of them.
Will 'Bama score over or under 28 points?
If that isn't enough for you, consider the fact that Oregon put up 27 points on LSU. Alabama should put up at least that much. I think no one will be ahead by more than a touchdown until the fourth quarter, when Alabama will take a lead of 10 points.
Final score: Alabama 28, LSU 18. I hope I am wrong and it's more like 35-7, but I assume that's just wishful thinking.
Roll, Tide, Roll!!!