Although I’m not sick of the hype for #1 LSU (8-0, 5-0 SEC) at #2 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC,) it is time put all that aside and just project what we’ll see. Here’s how I see college football’s spectacular showpiece playing out this Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
I could say turnovers and fewest mistakes will win the game, but frankly, that would be lame general football talk.
The most important match-ups are the OTs of Alabama (Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker) vs. the stable of talented DEs from LSU. Alabama’s offensive line has gotten better each week. If LSU’s defensive line gets the better of the Bama tackles it could really slow down the Tide’s offense and make it one-dimensional.
I think both teams will throw the ball down the field and they will do it early. Who hits those downfield pass play opportunities? That will be a big factor in the game.
LSU is a great tackling team. Trent Richardson is the best in years at breaking tackles and yards after contact. Who wins that battle? Alabama will have more success running the football than LSU because of Richardson and the offensive line.
Alabama’s defense is more balanced, has been more consistent and is more violently physical. I don’t think LSU can sustain success on the ground against Alabama’s run defense. I expect LSU to use Jordan Jefferson a lot for the run/pass threat. Ultimately, I think Alabama’s complex pass defense turns the LSU quarterbacks over at least twice. Jefferson could be the culprit of multiple turnovers.
LSU has the edge on special teams because of two areas, kickoff distance and punting. I could see a late-game scenario where Alabama leads by one possession; has the ball deep in its own territory; is conservative running the clock; is forced to punt (Cody Mandell) with a little more than a minute to go; and they get a shank out of bounds to give LSU great field position and a chance to tie or win.
Both these teams are elite and very closely matched. In the end, Alabama’s home field advantage with the electric crowd, Alabama’s motivation from last year’s disappointments and Nick Saban’s incredible success in revenge games following a loss take me to an Alabama win.
Final Score Alabama 24 LSU 19
Vince Ferrara has more than 10 years experience in sports broadcasting, in numerous SEC and Big 12 markets, working in sports radio, play-by-play and television. You can hear him host the “News Sentinel Sports Page” weekdays 10am-12pm ET on WNML - “The Sports Animal” in Knoxville and read more of his work at Examiner.com.