5 reasons No. 1 LSU beats No. 2 Bama at long last
It’s been awhile since LSU has beaten Alabama.
Eight consecutive losses since their Game of the Century in 2011.
The Tigers thought they were ready to break through last year when they climbed from No. 25 in the preseason AP poll to No. 4 going into the game against the No. 1 Crimson Tide.
Bama rolled 29-0, the most-lopsided outcome during the streak.
But now LSU is No. 1 and Bama is No. 2 – in the AP poll. LSU is No. 2 (behind Ohio State) and Bama is No. 3 in the first College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night.
“You can tell by the rankings it looks like we made up some ground,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said.
“But,” he quickly added, “we’ve still got to beat them.”
Here are 5 reasons LSU will beat Bama:
1. It’s time
No it’s not that LSU is “due” for a win, although it is.
It’s time because this time – for the first time in a while – the Tigers are on equal footing with the Tide.
They lost in overtime once. They lost in the final minute another time. They were in a scoreless tie in the 4th quarter yet another time.
But they never had the balance on offense, or the balance between offense and defense to make that extra play or two or three that was necessary to prevail in a really close game.
Now they’re a complete team. They can make those plays. They will make those plays.
Which brings us to:
2, Joe Burrow
The reason LSU has balance on offense and is a more balanced team overall is because of Joe Burrow and the passing game.
Bama hasn’t faced an LSU passing game this prolific since, I don’t know, ever?
Burrow and LSU won’t put up video-game numbers on this defense, but they will begin the game with an unprecedented threat of making big plays, which will change the dynamic from the get-go.
Then Burrow will make some plays. And it’ll become easier to run. And Burrow will make a few more plays.
The defense will get to play with a lead. If the Tide take a lead, Burrow, unlike other Tigers quarterbacks during the streak, will be able to overcome it. He has beaten 4 top 10 teams in his past 9 starts, and rallied from a deficit each time.
Thanks to Burrow and the passing game, LSU will play its best complementary game since the streak began. And the streak will end.
3. Defensive Back University
OK, so DBU has played more like dbu at times this season.
But the Tigers still have the defensive backs necessary to contain the Bama passing game enough to prevail.
Grant Delpit got nicked up against Auburn 2 weeks ago, but he should be fine. Derek Stingley Jr. is making game-turning plays seemingly every week.
Kristian Fulton, JaCoby Stevens and Kary Vincent Jr. are playmakers too. Another freshman, Cordale Flott, is coming on.
With LB Michael Divinity Jr. off the team, the Tigers might play even more nickel than they already would have against the Bama passing game.
So DBU will be in the thick of the action. Tua Tagovailoa is going to play and he’s going to make plays in the passing game. DBU will give up plays, maybe even a couple of big ones.
But the pass rush is coming around too and DBU will make a couple of significant plays of its own to help end the streak.
4. LSU is more battle-tested
If we didn’t have a preseason poll and we evaluated teams strictly on what they have done on the field since Labor Day weekend, LSU would be farther ahead of Bama in the rankings than it is.
The Tigers have beaten 3 teams that were ranked in the top 10 when they played them – No. 9 Texas, No. 7 Florida and No. 9 Auburn. Florida and Auburn are still ranked – No. 10 and No. 11, respectively, in the Playoff rankings.
Bama has beaten 1 team that was ranked at the time it beat it – No. 24 Texas A&M, which has since fallen out of the Top 25. Sure the Aggies are still receiving votes at No. 29, but that’s 2 spots behind Texas.
Yes, it’ll be just LSU and Alabama on the field Saturday, but iron sharpens iron and that means the Tigers will be the sharper team entering a game that will be played at a post-season level.
5. Orgeron against the Top 10
LSU has won 7 of its past 8 games against Top 10 teams. (Yeah, we know who the one was.)
Ed Orgeron is 8-3 against Top 10 teams as LSU head coach. (Yeah, we know who the 3 were against.)
The point here is that Orgeron has evolved into one of the best head coaches in the SEC and probably the country. He has had his team ready to compete and succeed at the highest level – except for one obstacle.
But he and his staff have been evolving. He now has an offense that is far better equipped to handle this challenge than any of its predecessors.
The coaches are better prepared than ever before. The players are better prepared than ever before.
This isn’t the same ole LSU.
And that’s why the streak ends.