This LSU team is built to beat Bama, but ...
Alabama has won its past 8 games against LSU.
Three times it has shut out the Tigers.
One time it had to go overtime.
Another time it had to score a touchdown in the final minute in order to prevail.
Five of the victories have come by at least 2 touchdowns.
But they all have a common denominator, aside from the victor – LSU’s lack of productivity on offense.
It’s not just in the 3 shutouts – 21-0 in the BCS Championship game in January 2012, 10-0 in Ed Orgeron’s first crack at the Crimson Tide as the Tigers’ head coach in 2016 and 29-0 last season.
In the other 5 losses, which included the overtime game, LSU averaged 14.6 points and lost by an average margin of 12 points – a number that could have been managed with more offense.
But this is 2019.
Joe Brady has arrived. Joe Burrow and the No. 1 Tigers’ passing game have been transformed. This LSU team is built to take down Bama because it has the offense – primarily the passing game – to put up more points than it has in any game during the losing streak, maybe a lot more.
Burrow is 2nd nationally with 30 TD passes, already a single-season school record. That’s important because Alabama has allowed 10 passing TDs this season, compared with just 3 on the ground.
The most points the Tigers have scored against the Tide during this losing streak is 17 points, which is did in 2012 and 2013.
If they don’t surpass 17 points in this game, they might never do it against Alabama.
LSU is averaging 46.8 points per game, 4th-highest in the FBS. It must be noted that No. 2 Bama is 2nd at 48.6, but that’s not the point here. The point is that the LSU offense can keep up. By the way, it’s 2nd in the FBS in passing yards per game – 377.6.
The Tigers have rarely had the luxury of playing with a lead against the Tide during this streak. But Burrow and the offense are better equipped at scoring early than their recent counterparts, greatly increasing the chances of playing with a lead. They’re also more likely to score touchdowns and not just field goals.
Additionally, the Tigers are better equipped to play from behind if necessary. That’s certainly a possibility, especially if Tua Tagovailoa is available and effective after recent ankle surgery.
It’s also a possibility because this LSU defense hasn’t played consistently at as high a level as its most recent counterparts have, though it has played increasingly well in the last few games.
But even in a worst-case scenario in which Tagovailoa plays and plays well and the Tigers’ defense starts poorly, even a multi-score deficit won’t seem insurmountable to this LSU offense.
With Burrow passing to Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr., the Tigers seem able to move the ball and score touchdowns on any defense in the country.
They put up 42 points on Florida and even though they managed just 23 in their last game 2 weekends ago against Auburn, that’s still more than their high mark against Bama during this streak.
But LSU’s passing success and overall offensive success don’t guarantee anything in this game.
It’s worth remembering that it was just a year ago that Bama beat LSU 29-0. When the game was over, Orgeron lamented his team’s inability to compete with the Tide on either line of scrimmage.
“We’ve got to recruit better on the offensive and defensive lines,” the coach said. “Same old thing. You’ve got to beat Alabama on the line of scrimmage and we didn’t.”
Orgeron and LSU have had another very highly rated recruiting class since then, but none of the linemen expected to play Saturday have arrived since those words were spoken.