As soon as the national championship game is set, everyone has to break it down in every angle possible. This year that means looking back on what we learned from LSU and Alabama’s first battle in November.
The Tide actually won the game if you just look at the box score, out-gaining the Tigers, getting more first downs, doing better on third down and narrowly winning the time of possession.
So does that mean that LSU got lucky the first time around?
First of all, the game was played in Tuscaloosa ,so we should assume that Alabama got a boost from that. If the same exact game happened in Baton Rouge, people would probably be calling for an upset in this game because of home field advantage.
But the other, more important point is that any breaks that LSU got, Alabama got the same amount. The argument could even be made that the Tide got more breaks than the Tigers.
The teams each forced two turnovers, but the turnovers LSU forced all were at pivotal places on the field, the first on their own 1-yard line and the other was returned to the Alabama 15. Some could consider that lucky, but this has been the M.O. of the team all season.
The Tigers rank a surprising 75th in the country in yards per game but score an average of over 38 points per game which ranks 12th. That discrepancy comes from their turnover margin which is the nation’s best.
Forcing turnovers and being opportunistic on defense is nothing new for this team. What is new is their quarterback.
Jarrett Lee got benched in the middle of the game, and Jordan Jefferson resumed command ever since. He was 6-of-10 passing and ran for an additional 43 yards.
If he had been playing like that for the whole game, the odds of game going into overtime are slim.
Some people may never guess that Alabama actually had a statistically great game against LSU earlier this season, but don’t mistake its loss as LSU’s good fortune.