Tide Leads LSU In Most Statistics

Against any team save the number one team in the nation, a statistical comparison in which Alabama has the best of it in almost every major category would provide optimism for Crimson Tide followers. But this week Bama's statistical superiority is against a powerful LSU team and may not tell the whole story.

Alabama, ranked second in the nation, hosts top-rated LSU at 7 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. CBS will televise the game. In the main statistic, the teams are even. Both are 8-0 this year, including 5-0 in Southeastern Conference games.

Over the years, it has been suggested that statistical comparisons have limited value, and any credence must wait until late in the season. This is late. In fact, for Saturday's loser it will be almost "Lights out."

The SEC provides complete statistics on its teams, and the first page of that report includes eight major categories: Scoring offense, scoring defense, rushing offense, rushing defense, passing offense, passing defense, total offense, and total defense. Alabama is ranked first in seven of those eight and has a substantial lead over LSU in the eighth (passing offense). LSU ranks second in the league in four of the statistical categories.

In scoring offense, Bama is first with315 points, 39.4 per game, one more point than the Tigers, who average 39.2. In scoring defense, the Tide allows 6.9 per game, LSU 11.5.

Alabama's league-leading rushing offense is 229.2 yards per game. The Tigers are fourth at 189. In rushing defense, Bama is best, allowing 44.9 yards per game, while LSU is second, giving up 76.6 yards per game.

The Tide is only fourth in the league in passing offense, 228.4 yards per game, but ahead of LSU in eighth place at 183.1. In passing defense, Alabama is first, permitting 135.6 yards per game, and LSU is fourth, giving up 174.8.

Bama is first in total offense, 457.6 yards per game, and the Tigers sixth at 372.1 yards per game. The Tide is first in total defense, giving up 180.5 yards per game, and LSU is second allowing 251.4.

In passing efficiency, LSU is first and Bama fourth. In pass defense efficiency, Alabama is first and LSU third.

All that good news for Alabama doesn't mean that LSU doesn't have some statistical advantages, including what Bama Coach Nick Saban considers the most important statistic: turnover margin. LSU is phenomenal, having turned in seven fumble recoveries and 11 pass interceptions for 18 takeaways and surrendered only two fumbles and one interception for three turnovers and a plus 15 that is far-and-away best in the SEC. The Tide is tied for a distant second with five fumble recoveries and nine interceptions for 14 takeaways and three fumbles and five interceptions lost for eight turnovers and a margin of plus 6.

LSU is also first in Red Zone offense, scoring 97.4 per cent of the time (38-39 trips inside the 20 with 31 touchdowns and 7-8 field goals). Bama is fifth at 35-41 (24 touchdowns, 11-13 field goals) for 85.4 per cent. In Red Zone defense, Alabama is first, allowing 6-9 (five touchdowns, 1-2 field goals), for 66.7 per cent. LSU is last, allowing 15-16 (nine touchdowns, 6-6 field goals) for 93.8 per cent.

In third down conversions, Alabama is first with 54-106 for 50.9 per cent and LSU is second with 48-104 for 46.2 per cent. Defensively on third downs, Bama is second allowing 32-121 for 26.4 per cent, LSU fourth, giving up 37-114 for 32.5 per cent.

Alabama is the league's least penalized team, only 27 for 236 yards, while the Tigers are eighth, 52 penalties for 428 yards. The Tigers are best in time of possession, 33:52, with the Tide third, 32:43.

LSU leads the league in punting, least number of sacks, fourth down conversions, and opponents having the most penalties.

In individual statistics, Alabama's Trent Richardson leads the league in rushing (123.6 yards per game), scoring (13.5 points per game), touchdowns (18), and all-purpose yardage (155.5 points per game). The Tide's Marquis Maze is the league's best on kickoff returns, averaging 29.8 yards per runback. LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee is first in passing efficiency and the Tigers' Brad Wing leads the league in punting (44.4 average).

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