Thursday, November 3, 2011
Football Armagedden is upon us.....
The moment is finally here, by far the biggest game of this young century is upon us as # 1 LSU visits Tuscaloosa to take on # 2 Alabama.
The build up for this regular season game is unparalleled in the history of college football. College Gameday starts its broadcasts from outside Bryant-Denny Stadium today, in anticipation of this contest. Both teams have been equally impressive steam rolling opponents, winning in hostile environments, dominating teams to the point of submission.
Add in that both teams have an off week, coupled with an already intense rivalry between LSU and Alabama, along with an ex coach leading one team, and a switch to primetime television. Also, both teams have dominated leaders from the Pac 10, Big 10 & Big East on the road or neutral sites to the point that those teams don't even belong on the same field. Tie it all together and football amrmagedden is upon us!
Quarterbacks: Alabama's unsung hero AJ McCarron has continued to grow in this spot, but still seems to hold onto the ball to long and tends to overthrow his receivers. Jarret Lee and Jordan Jefferson bring a different dynamic into the fold, with Lee reinventing himself while Jefferson has returned from his summer transgressions.
Running Back: The Beast Trent Richardson, he seems to carry 11 men in a single bound against LSU's 5 headed machine. There is strength in numbers, especially having fresh legs in a hard hitting contest, but its hard to go against the Heisman Trophy Candidate.
Wide Receivers: LSU seems to have more big play capability, especially after seeing them vs Auburn, but Alabama has a consistent bunch led by Maze and Hanks. The big difference maker, Julio Jones, is gone for 'Bama which is enough to sway this southward.
Offensive Line: Alabama has a mostly experienced bunch as does LSU. 'Bama's biggest problem has been holding penalties on William Valachos and LSU has impressed with their physical style.
Defensive Line: LSU has a dominating pass rush, something that is lacking from Alabama, although they get very consistent play from Nick Gentry and the bunch. The difference is LSU has game changers at this position.
Linebackers: Defninently the weak point of the LSU defense and Alabama has a physically punishing group. Hands down, a win here in a huge way for the Tide.
Secondary: experienced bunch for Alabama that will physically beat you down has a bad habit of getting beat against new offensive looks. Expect LSU to try something crazy to exploit that tendency. LSU has some major talent here too and isn't as prone to the big play.
Special Teams: Alabama has been superb in punt returns and pulling off fake punts/field goals vs Penn State/Arkansas. But they lack in the kick-off in that they can't kick it out of the end zone. LSU's return teams are just a s good.
Coaching: Les Miles has won more respect the further we get from the Saban era from LSU. Popular belief was that LSU would eventually fall apart once Saban's players left the program. That has not happened, despite Mile's penchant for questionable decisions and time management. But he is 2-2 vs Saban, although the first win was more just based on better talent, last year Miles gambled and thoroughly outcoached Saban. Saban is still looking to regain some lost mojo from the meltdown vs Auburn in Bryant-Denny last year, Alabama's only home loss in 4 years. With that in mind, shockingly we'll call this area a push.
Intangibles: Alabama is tough to beat in front of 102,000 people, 1 home loss in 4 years now. The crowds at BDS have caused havoc for many teams. 'Bama has also never beaten a #1 team in Bryant-Denny, although thats a skewed stat because many of the Tide's biggest games used to be played at Legion Field. Saban also has a remarkable record when playing a team he lost to in a previous season.
As much as it pains me to say it, I think the wrong team is favored in this game. Both teams are evenly matched and the differences between the two are ever so small. My pick and I hope its wrong... LSU 23 Alabama 20