In Game One of the SEC Madness Tournament, we look at the match-up between the 2007 LSU Tigers and the 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide football teams. Both of these teams were National Champions and it would be a very entertaining game to watch. Here are the stats and information to compare each team:

2007 LSU SCHEDULE 2009 ALABAMA SCHEDULE
@ Mississippi State W 45-0 Vs. #7 Virginia Tech W 34-24
#9 Virginia Tech W 48-7 Florida International W 40-14
Middle Tennessee W 44-0 North Texas W 53-7
#14 South Carolina W 28-16 Arkansas W 35-7
@ Tulane W 34-9 @ Kentucky W 38-20
#7 Florida W 28-24 @ #20 Ole Miss W 22-3
@ #18 Kentucky L 37-43 #22 South Carolina W 20-6
#19 Auburn W 30-24 Tennessee W 12-10
@ #18 Alabama W 41-34 #9 LSU W 24-15
Louisiana Tech W 58-10 @ Mississippi State W 31-3
@ Ole Miss W 41-24 UT Chattanooga W 45-0
Arkansas L 48-50 @ Auburn W 26-21
SECCG #15 Tennessee W 21-14 SECCG #1 Florida W 32-13
BCSNCG #1 Ohio State W 38-24 BCSNCG #2 Texas W 37-21

2009 Alabama Crimson Tide 2007 LSU Tigers

CATEGORY 2007 LSU 2009 ALABAMA EDGE
LSU Passing Offense v. Alabama Passing Defense Pass Offense Rank
National: 58
SEC: 5

Passing Efficiency
National: 37
SEC: 4

After losing JaMarcus Russell to the NFL Draft, senior QB Matt Flynn provided a steady hand for the Tigers. Flynn completed 202-389 passes for 2407 yards, 21 td’s and 11 interceptions. Ryan Perrilloux filled in nicely when Flynn was out with injuries. The Tigers three leading receivers were Brandon LaFell, Demetrius Byrd, and Early Doucet. The trio combined to catch 142 passes for 1802 yards and 16 touchdowns. LSU’s passing game was solid, but not outstanding.

Pass Defense Rank
National: 2
SEC: 1

The Tide’s pass defense was exceptional. They only allowed 166 yards passing per game, 11 td’s, and held opponents to a 47% completion rate.

Passing against the Alabama secondary was a risky proposition. Mark Barron and Javier Arenas combined to record 12 of the teams 24 interceptions. Marcell Dareus led the Tide’s pass rush with 6.5 sacks, as the Tide amassed 40 sacks on the year and effectively rattled opposing quarterbacks on a weekly basis.

2009 Alabama Football vs 2007 LSU
LSU Rushing Offense v. Alabama Rushing Defense Rushing Offense
National: 11
SEC: 2

A talented stable of runners for LSU rushed 612 times for 2998 yards and 35 td’s for an impressive average of 4.9 yards per carry. Bruising back Jacob Hester was the leading rusher with 1103 yards and 12 td’s. Keiland Williams and speedster Trindon Holliday also contributed 842 yards and 8 td’s. QB’s Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux proved to be dual threats out of the backfield combining to rush for 659 yards and 6 td’s.

LSU was able to keep their defense off the field by utilizing the running game. The Tigers were 7th nationally in time of possession.

Rushing Defense
National: 2
SEC: 1

Alabama’s front seven was lead by Rolondo McClain, Marcell Dareus, and Terrance Cody. The Tide’s imposing defense held opponents to an average of 78 yards a game rushing and 1094 yards in 14 games.

Only three teams rushed for over 100 yards in a game against the Tide. Opponents only scored 5 rushing touchdowns against them all season.

2009 Alabama Football vs 2007 LSU
Alabama Passing Offense v. LSU Passing Defense Pass Defense Rank
National: 3
SEC: 2

LSU’s pass defense was also outstanding holding opponents to a 47% completion rate. The unit recorded 23 interceptions while limiting opponents to 182 yards receiving a game. Craig Steltz and Chevis Jackson lead the way with 6 and 5 interceptions respectively.

LSU was also able to torment QB’s with a consistent pass rush from Glenn Dorsey and Kirston Pittman. LSU had 37 sacks on the season.

Pass Offense Rank
National: 92
SEC: 8

Passing Efficiency
National: 34
SEC: 4

The Alabama passing game was not dynamic, but it got the job done. WR Julio Jones and TE Colin Peek were the big play receivers for the Tide. QB Greg McElroy was more of a game manager, but he usually came up with big plays through the air when the Tide needed them most. McElroy completed 198-325 passes for 2508 yards, 17 td’s and only 4 interceptions.

2009 Alabama Football vs 2007 LSU
Alabama Rushing Offense v. LSU Rushing Defense Rushing Defense Rank:
National: 12
SEC: 2

LSU’s front seven was stacked with talent. Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson, Kirston Pittman, Ricky Jean-Francois, Ali Highsmith, Darry Beckwith and Perry Riley among others presented match up nightmares for SEC teams.

The Tigers held opponents to 106 rushing yards per game and a measly 3.2 yards per carry on the season.

However, LSU gave up 201 yards on the ground against Ole Miss and allowed 385 yards on the ground in a 3OT loss to Arkansas.

Rushing Offense Rank:
National: 12
SEC: 3

Alabama had a well balanced attack lead by Heisman winner Mark Ingram and freshman Trent Richardson. Ingram rushed for 1678 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season. Richardson had 784 yards and 8 td’s in a reserve role.

Alabama rushed for over 200 yards in 10 games. The only game that the Tide were held under 100 yards rushing was against Auburn, where they were held to 73 yards on the ground.

The running game allowed Alabama to eat up the clock. The Tide were 5th nationally in time of possession.

The group that does not get enough credit for their success in the running game was the strong offensive line. James Carpenter, Mike Johnson, and Barrett Jones dominated in the trenches opening up gaping holes for the running backs and providing McElroy with plenty of time in the pocket.

EVEN
Scoring Offense National: 11
SEC: 2

LSU averaged 38.6 points per game.

National : 22
SEC: 4

Alabama averaged 32 points per game.

2009 Alabama Football vs 2007 LSU
Scoring Defense National: 17
SEC: 2

LSU allowed an average of 19.9 points per game.

In 9 SEC games the Tigers allowed an average of 25.4 points per game.

National: 2
SEC: 1

Alabama allowed an average of 11.7 points per game. Even more impressively, Alabama only allowed 10.9 points per game in SEC contests.

Only two SEC opponents scored 20 or more points against the Tide.

2009 Alabama Football vs 2007 LSU
Turnover Margin National: 2
SEC: 1

36 turnovers gained

16 turnovers lost

1.41 turnover margin

National: 4
SEC: 1

31 turnovers gained

12 turnovers lost

1.36 turnover margin.

EVEN
Special Teams Net Punting- SEC: 5

Patrick Fisher was ranked 1st in the SEC with 44.5 yards per punt.

Punt Returns- SEC: 11

Chad Jones: 6.6 yards per return

Kickoff Returns- SEC: 10

Trindon Holliday: 26.2 yards per return

Field Goals- National: 5 SEC: 2

Colt David (26-33)

Net Punting- SEC: 8

P.J. Fitzgerald averaged 41.5 yards per punt.

Punt Returns- SEC: 2

Javier Arenas averaged over 15 yards per return with 1 touchdown.

Kickoff returns- SEC: 7

Arenas averaged 29 yards per return, which was ranked number 9 nationally.

Field Goals- National: 2 SEC: 1

Leigh Tiffin (30-35)

2009 Alabama Football vs 2007 LSU
Coaching Head coach: Les Miles, in his third year in Baton Rouge, had to replace four first round draft picks from the previous season en route to winning the 2007 SEC and BCS Championships.

Defensive Coordinator: Bo Pelini is known as one of the top defensive minds in college football.

Offensive Coordinator: Gary Crowton

Head coach: Nick Saban was named SEC Coach of the Year.

Defensive Coordinator: Kirby Smart won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.

Offensive Coordinator: Jim McElwain

2009 Alabama Football vs 2007 LSU
Strength of Schedule National: 14
SEC: 7

8 Ranked opponents

3 Top Ten opponents

9 Opponents played in bowl games

National: 2
SEC: 2

6 Ranked opponents

4 Top Ten opponents

10 opponents played in bowl games

Victories over the previous three national champions (Texas, Florida, LSU)

2009 Alabama Football vs 2007 LSU
Win-Loss Record LSU (12-2) lost a pair of 3OT games to Kentucky and Arkansas becoming the first BCS Champion with two losses. The Tide went undefeated (14-0). 2009 Alabama Football vs 2007 LSU
Star Players Glenn Dorsey: Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award, Lott Trophy, Nagurski Trophy

Craig Steltz: First Team All-American

ALL SEC 1st Team: Dorsey, Steltz, Darry Beckwith, Colt David, Patrick Fisher, Ali Highsmith, Chevis Jackson, Herman Johnson

ALL SEC 2nd Team: Ciron Black, Jacob Hester

Mark Ingram- Heisman Trophy, SEC Offensive Play of the Year

Rolondo McClain: SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Butkus Award

All SEC 1st Team: Ingram, McClain, Javier Arenas, Leigh Tiffin, Terrance Cody, Mike Johnson, Mark Barron

All SEC 2nd Team: James Carpenter, Colin Peek, Julio Jones

EVEN
Statement Game Virginia Tech: It was a top 10 out of conference matchup and the ESPN Gameday gang was in town. LSU pounded Virginia Tech from the opening kickoff in a 48-7 drubbing of the Hokies.

From this game forward, LSU was viewed as one of the favorites to win the National Championship.

Florida in the SEC Championship Game: Alabama had been defeated soundly by the defending national champion Gators in the 2008 SECCG and was out to make a statement. The Crimson Tide took it to the Gators in every aspect of the game, including shutting down Tim Tebow, in a 32-13 trouncing. 2009 Alabama Football vs 2007 LSU
Clutch Play of the Year Trailing by 1 against Auburn with only seconds remaining, LSU was on the Auburn 22 yard line. The Mad Hatter decided to run a pass play instead of kicking a 39 yard field goal for the win. The risk paid off as Matt Flynn delivered a strike to Demetrius Byrd who scored a game winning touchdown with 1 second remaining on the clock. With four seconds left, Tennessee kicker Daniel Lincoln lined up for a game winning field goal attempt. When the ball was snapped, Terrance “Mount” Cody bulldozed through blockers and blocked Lincoln’s field goal preserving a 12-10 victory and the Tide’s undefeated season. EVEN
Intangibles & The
“It Factor”
LSU was 1st in the country in fourth down efficiency, converting on 13 out of 16 attempts.

The Tigers were 14th in the country in third down efficiency.

LSU was one of the most penalized teams in America finishing the season ranked 117th out of 119 teams. LSU racked up 117 penalties for 880 yards.

LSU showed a lot of grit and determination in comeback wins over Florida and Auburn.

However, they were not able to find a way to get it done in 3OT against Arkansas or Kentucky. Teams with the “it factor” do not lose at home to an unranked Arkansas team with a trip to the national championship game on the line.

Alabama ranked 62nd in third down efficiency and

28th in fourth down efficiency.

Alabama was able to limit their number of penalties. They were ranked 17th nationally and 3rd in the SEC with only 69 penalties.

Alabama was mentally tough, disciplined, and focused every on the task every week.

Alabama proved that it could find a way to win in close calls against Tennessee and Auburn. Any team that goes undefeated in the SEC has to have good leadership and intangibles. Alabama certainly had the “it factor.”

2009 Alabama Football vs 2007 LSU

Analysis

This is a classic SEC match-up of teams that like to run the ball and play hardnosed defense. LSU will come out and try pound the ball with Jacob Hester, but will have little success against Alabama’s daunting front seven. Forced to try and throw the ball to open up the running game, Matt Flynn will make a couple of mistakes that result in interceptions and good field position for the Tide. The Mad Hatter will pull out all the stops, including a successful onside kick in the first half, but the Tigers will settle for a Colt David field goal after multiple penalties stall the drive.

LSU is able to stymie McElroy and the Alabama passing game early, but Mark Ingram, behind Alabama’s powerful offensive line, is able to grind out yardage running the football and put points on the board. Eventually, the LSU front seven gets worn down by the Alabama running attack. The Tide then strike through the air to Julio Jones for a long touchdown.

Conclusion

Defense and running the football wins championships. 2007 LSU was good at both of these things, but 2009 Alabama was even better. Nick Saban’s squad simply has the edge in too many categories for Les Miles’ magic to overcome. The undefeated Crimson Tide will roll to a victory over 2007 LSU and advance to play the winner of 2010 Auburn and 2008 Florida.

WINNER: 2009 ALABAMA

2009 Alabama Crimson Tide 2007 LSU Tigers Football