If LSU can’t beat Alabama in Death Valley, at night, in front of 100,000 screaming crazy drunk Cajuns, nobody can. You might as well just ship the natty trophy to Tuscaloosa.
There is nobody else on the Bama schedule or in the likely College Football National Championship Playoff field with the personnel and scheme that can hang with the Crimson Tide.
Both teams are coming off bye weeks. Traditionally, the team with the most emotional investment suffers from a week off because it interrupts the momentum of success that the emotion is built on. That team is LSU, but the pause will be offset a little by the night kickoff and the crazy coon ass energy in the stands.
Alabama comes in with a Sabanesque business as usual attitude, having already sampled the road in Columbia and Knoxville.
LSU’s defense is what has brought them to this point. Defensive Coordinator Dave Aranda’s base package is a 3-4 scheme that looks a lot like a Nick Saban strategy. Their problem though is a lack of true 3-4 talent and depth, forcing Aranda to rely on some nickel lineups and even a 5-2 look that’s designed to confuse the offense and create opportunities to disrupt. LSU is so-so when it comes to total defense but they’re 7th in scoring defense.
Their star defensive player, Devin White, must sit out the first half Saturday night due to a targeting penalty called on him against Mississippi State two weeks ago.
They will be sorely tested by an Alabama offense that has yet to see a defense they can’t destroy by halftime. Starting QB Tua Tagavailoa is an absolute phenomenon (and he’s only a true sophomore!) and he has a young-but-freakishly-talented corps of wide receivers. Behind Tua is a fleet of at least three bowling balls for tailbacks, and the studly Jalen Hurts waits in the wings as Tua’s backup. LSU can’t afford to let Bama get up by two scores in the first quarter but my sense is that this will happen, anyway.
Alabama’s very young but very talented defense faces an LSU offense that Les Miles would be very proud to call his own. QB Joe Burrow is a so-so passer and a decent runner when the field is wide open before him. He managed to make a few plays against Georgia but was only 50% and no TD’s. He’s 53% overall with only six TD’s and three INT’s. Burrow in the pocket is not going to beat Alabama, and Burrow has only so-so backs to carry the ball. There is no Leonard Fournette at LSU this year.
Alabama’s defense is getting better as the season progresses. The injury bug that bit so hard last year has gone elsewhere in 2018, so the unit has been developing together all year long. Expect the Tide front seven to get LSU’s offensive line out of position from time to time, and for Williams, Davis and Buggs to wreak havoc. A very young defensive backfield has also gotten better through the first eight weeks but is still inexperienced and somewhat thin. One reason why teams have been able to score 20+ points on this defense is opposing receivers running free in long yardage downs.
Bama’s only weakness remains special teams. Tide fans should pray this game doesn’t come down to a special teams play or three.
It shouldn’t, though—the game of football is always and everywhere won or lost in the trenches. Alabama’s OL appears better than LSU’s front seven, and LSU’s OL might hold its own against Bama’s front seven for a half. If Alabama gets up by 14 or 21 before halftime… well… you’ve seen that movie before.
Bama wins another one comfortably.
Alabama 44, LSU 17