“It’s the biggest football game in the history of mankind.” OK, let’s move on to the four keys that will decide this game.
1 - The Field Goal Kicker – Sometimes the homely girl at the end of a crowded Hollywood bar – or the least-talked about – is the one you want to hitch your wagon to at last call. Her name isn’t Honey Badger. She doesn’t cuss people out in public. She doesn’t smoke synthetic or real weed. She doesn’t eat real or synthetic grass. She doesn’t talk in circles or say “aight” every third word. She has neither a process nor a plan. She doesn’t have shiny rims on her car or wear fancy suits purchased at the mall. She doesn’t pass the “look test,” yet this forgettable girl might be the most important girl in a crowd of 102,000. A Kate Upton in Rosie O’ Donnell’s clothing, if you will.
Ahhh… The life of Crimson Tide kicker Jeremy Shelley and Tiger Drew Alleman. Because the majority of the game will be played inside a 60-yard window, an offense trudging off the field with three points to show for their effort will be huge. Can one of these guys become famous overnight? Like splitting hairs with so many other categories between these teams, the 40-yard range is the only thing that stands out to me and I give a leg up to Alleman. Advantage… LSU.
Drew Alleman M/A % 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 Long
10-12 83.3 1-1 3-3 3-4 3-3 0-1 44
Jeremy Shelley M/A % 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 Long
11-13 84.63 1-1 6-6 4-5 0-1 0-0 37
2 – LSU Passing Game – The LSU passing game ranks #99 out of 120. Accentuating this problem, Alabama is #1 nationally in total, rushing and scoring defense. It drops off a cliff to #2 in pass defense. (Alabama plays the exact same style as LSU with much better passing and offensive numbers.)
While the accuracy of Jarret Lee does not keep Kirby Smart up at night, the feet of Jordan Jefferson should (and with good reason). The only time I’ve seen the Alabama defense consistently give up sizeable chunks of yardage is when a play breaks down and the QB skirts up the middle of the field. Florida and Vanderbilt did this a few times, so the Tide should be better prepared for plays that fall apart if that’s actually possible. A designed scramble is a wasted play… so expect a number of these to set-up a jump pass at the goal line. Similar to his legs, Jefferson’s arm is innocent and the Tigers will struggle to score more than 10 points. Advantage… Alabama.
3 – One Big Play – It makes the two points above 100% meaningless. It’s required a game-winning play must come at the end of the game but not on Saturday. These teams are so evenly matched that just one remarkable play – buried somewhere in the second quarter? – might actually be a funeral for the team on the receiving end. All season long the LSU defense has been known for creating the big one, but a protective Alabama offense means LSU might have to look to the offense for help.
And if that’s the case the LSU offense better do it early. The Alabama defense has given up a total of 30 points in the first quarter in their first eight games. After that, the Alabama defense has only given up a combined 25 points during quarters 2-4. In this game for LSU – opposite of my college career – if you don’t score early you ain’t gettin’ none late. Advantage… Push.
* Intangibles – Sweet Home Alabama. No, it’s not that this will be the seventh game the Crimson Tide has played in front of more than 100,000 people this year. No, it’s not about the significance of this game from a historical perspective. It’s another temporary release from the tornado that ravaged the Tuscaloosa community and took the lives of so many. An emotional backdrop obviously not forgotten by anyone rooting for the Tide inside Bryant- Denny, this game simply means more to the Crimson Nation. This is Alabama’s Katrina.
With a tradition-rich program rallying around its favorite son after a tragedy, and a dream season hanging in the balance, this is the definition of destiny. Mama called the Bear to come home and Destiny has called the Tide to come home. This football team is coming home and I’m fortunate enough to go out on the field before the game to see it.
Crimson Tide 21 LSU Tigers 10
Tyler B. works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company. A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written.