Alabama-LSU Looks Like Low Scoring Affair

Other than logic, what tangible reasons suggest that Alabama vs. LSU this weekend will be a defensive struggle?

It may be because Alabama and LSU rank first and second in the Southeastern Conference in total defense and second and third in the league in scoring defense.

That is not to say that the Crimson Tide and the Tigers haven’t put up some strong offensive numbers, but defense is the road to success for both Bama and LSU.

Alabama (7-1 overall and 4-1 in SEC games) takes on LSU (7-2, 3-2) at 7 p.m. CST Saturday in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. CBS will televise the game.

Scoring and scoring defense are ultimately how teams are judged. Two-thirds of the way into the SEC season, Alabama is fourth in league scoring at 36.5 points per game and second in scoring defense, allowing 14 per game. LSU is eighth in scoring at 32.8 per game and third in scoring defense, allowing 15.9.

Bama ranks second in total offense at 508.9 yards per game and first in total defense, surrendering 277.2 yards per game. The Tigers are ninth in total offense, 414.2 yards per game, and second in defense, 318.1.

In rushing yardage, LSU has the edge, fifth in the SEC at 225.7 yards per game to the Tide’s sixth at 218.6. Defensively against the run, Bama ranks first, allowing 78.1, and LSU ninth, giving up 159.7.

The Tide is third in passing offense at 290.2 yards per game, while LSU is 11th at 188.6. The Tigers are first in pass defense, allowing 158.4, while Alabama is fifth, giving up 199.1.In passing efficiency, Alabama leads the league with LSU eighth, but in pass defense efficiency the Tigers are first and Bama fifth.

Alabama continues to rank down the line in the important Turnover Margin statistic. LSU is sixth in the league at plus four while Alabama is 11th at minus two. LSU has eight fumble recoveries and nine interceptions and has given up six fumbles and seven interceptions. The Tide has six fumble recoveries and five pass interceptions while losing 10 fumbles and suffering three interceptions.

Third down plays are always critical and should be interesting in Baton Rouge. Alabama is best in the SEC at converting on third down and the Tigers lead the league in defense on third down. Bama has been successful on 64 of 115 third down plays, 55.7 per cent, while the Tigers have held opponents to only 28.8 per cent (38-132). LSU has been successful on 45-117 third down plays, 38.5 per cent which is 11th in the league, while the Tide on third down defense ranks sixth allowing 40-115 for 34.8 per cent.

In the Red Zone, Alabama and LSIU are in a statistical dead heat on offense, both teams scoring 29 of 34 opportunities (85.3 per cent, tied for seventh in the league), both with 23 touchdowns, and both 6-7 on field goals. Defensively, both have given opponents few Red Zone opportunities and the Tigers have been a bit better than the Tide. LSU has allowed 15-19 scores (78.9 per cent) with 10 touchdowns and 5-5 field goals. Bama has given up 14-17 for 82.4 per cent only seven touchdowns and 7-8 field goals.

Alabama has been improving in the penalties department, now ranking third in the league with 45 for 346 yards (43.2 yards per game), while LSU is ninth with 55 for 463 and 51.4 yards per game.

Alabama Alabama Coach Nick Saban doesn’t put much stock in sacks, the Tide has done better this year. Alabama is sixth in sacks with 21 for 132 yards and second in avoiding sacks, allowing eight for 56 yards. LSU is 11th in sacks with 15 for 86 yards and ninth in getting sacked, 55 for 463 yards.

The teams are virtually even in time of possession, LSU second at 33:21 per game, Bama third at 33:09.

In individual statistics, Alabama’s Blake Sims leads the league in total offense average per play at 9.3 yards; passing yards per attempt at 10.2; passing efficiency among starters; the Tide’s Amari Cooper leads the league in virtually all receiving statistics with 71 catches for 1,132 yards and nine touchdowns; and Bama freshman J.K. Scott is best in the SEC in punting with 27 kicks for an average of 46.6 yards per boot.

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