5 reasons No. 2 Alabama will beat No. 1 LSU to extend streak
Any long-time Alabama fan will tell you that, among the Crimson Tide’s myriad rivalries (see Volunteers, Tennessee and Tigers, Auburn), the rivalry with LSU is largely one borne in the past 15 years.
Just as the scent of corndogs permeates the air in Baton Rouge, Alabama has largely had its way with LSU over the years. Sporting a 53-25-5 overall record, which includes a 13-7 record in Tuscaloosa and an 8-game Tide winning streak, the reality of Alabama-LSU as a rivalry comes down to one person …
When he was the LSU coach, Alabama fans — just like most of the SEC — hated him. And they continued to right up until the point they loved him as their own coach.
Saban owns a 10-3 record against his former coaching stop since descending upon Tuscaloosa. But that isn’t a reason Alabama wins Saturday afternoon with the entire college football world — and President Trump — watching.
But here are 5 reasons Alabama will win:
1. Joe Burrow is overdue for a down game
Auburn laid out some of the outline for controlling Burrow on Nov. 26, as the LSU senior QB passed for 321 yards on 32-of-42 passes — but only 1 touchdown in a 23-20 slugfest. Don’t misunderstand … Burrow is a legit Heisman Trophy candidate. He will very probably throw for 300-plus Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium and will be the reason LSU is in the game for the full 60 minutes.
But Burrow is also due for comedown, relatively speaking. Saturday could well be that day. And it isn’t like LSU has any sort of running game to fall back upon.
2. Alabama’s pass defense is overdue for a great game
Conversely, Alabama’s pass defense — again, relatively speaking — is the weakness of the overall defensive unit. The Tide might allow just 15.3 points per game, but heavyweights like Duke, New Mexico State and Southern Miss have helped opposing passing games to go for 180.1 yards per game in the air.
Alabama’s run defense is predictably stout, allowing just 127.4 yards per game. And that will likely go down, as we have already mentioned that the Tigers don’t even try to ground it out anymore.
But the pass defense has been sneaky susceptible at times in 2019. Should the Tide secondary pick off Burrow in the first half, it could be a prelude to an above-average day.
3. Tua Tagovailoa now has bionic ankles
The most talked-about lower leg in America in the past 3 weeks, all indications out of Titletown indicate that Tua Tagovailoa’s right ankle will be healed enough from “tightrope” surgery just 20 days prior to survive 60 minutes of SEC-caliber football.
Put another way, Alabama’s sweet Hawaiian prince now has 2 bionic ankles. The tightrope procedure effectively strengthens high ankles more than the human body would naturally heal, and thus makes the surgery’s recipient more like “The Six Million Dollar Man” Steve Austin.
Tagovailoa’s lower body is cyborg-like moving forward, and medical experts have pretty much concurred that the only pain he could feel Saturday is from the arthroscopic surgery itself and not from the original surgery. The Tide medical staff will take care of that with a single needle before the game, and Tagovailoa will be as good as ever.
4. The Tide will suddenly figure out how to run the ball
Ah ha, herein lies the real rub of Saturday. Joe Burrow probably won’t suddenly become the Joe Burrow that passed for just 184 yards and an interception in last season’s 29-0 wipeout in Baton Rouge. Tagovailoa will deliver the same kind of performance he has for the 2-plus years he has delivered in big games.
There is a reason our friends in the desert have the over/under total at 63.5 points in this one, and it isn’t because of any running backs on either side of the field.
But the place Alabama can improve, and likely will need to, is in its running game. At 168 yards per outing, again against powerhouses like Duke, New Mexico State and Southern Miss, it isn’t like the Tide is exactly controlling games on the ground.
LSU’s defense instantly got weaker this week when senior linebacker Michael Divinity Jr., shockingly announced he was leaving the team for personal reasons. And Najee Harris has a respectable 642 yards in 8 games and Brian Robinson Jr. has 356 in 8 games. Together, they go for 124.75 yards per game.
They’ll likely need 180-plus Saturday for Alabama to walk away with a win.
5. That Bryant-Denny magic
OK, we were kinda fibbing about the preamble to all this not factoring into the outcome. Simply put: Alabama owns LSU of late, winning 8 consecutive and 10 of 13 games with Nick Saban on the crimson-tinted sideline.
Bryant-Denny Stadium will be rocking. Once fans get into the stadium due to unprecedented security brought on by President Trump’s expected visit, it should be a rocking afternoon. The stadium was expanded for moments just like this one, and the Crimson Nation has proven itself capable of delivering a 60-minute fan experience that makes home-field advantage truly advantageous.