Another Mismatch

Last week it was pointed out that Alabama was better than Mississippi State in almost every meaningful statistical category. It turned out that the adage "Statistics are for losers" was true as the Bulldogs defeated Bama, 24-16. This week it is LSU with the better of it statistically, and in this case it is a dramatic difference.

The Southeastern Conference provides team statistics in 30 categories. In this week's listings Alabama is first in two of those. LSU is first in 14 and the Tigers are first or second in every meaningful category except turnover margin. The Tigers lead Alabama in 24 of the 30 categories.

Alabama, 6-4 overall and 2-4 in SEC games, will be at LSU Saturday for a 6:45 p.m. CST game that will be televised by ESPN. LSU is 7-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play and ranked 12th in the nation.

Alabama is first in turnover margin, where Bama has been very, very good. The Tide ranks third in the nation at plus 13. LSU is tied for seventh in the league at minus one. Alabama is also first in time of possession, which sometimes is meaningful and sometimes is of little or no significance. Bama keeps the ball 32:31 per game. LSU is fifth at 30:01.

LSU ranks first in scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense, total defense, passing defense, pass efficiency, pass efficiency defense, first downs, defense against first downs, third down conversions, defense against third down conversions, sacks, red zone defense, and extra point kicking.

The Tigers are second in passing offense, rushing offense, rushing defense, fourth down conversions, and kickoff coverage.

Looking at the numbers:

In scoring offense, LSU is first in the SEC and ninth in the nation at 35 points per game, Alabama eighth in the league and 63rd nationally at 23.8. In scoring defense, the Tigers are first in the conference and third in the nation allowing 10 points per game, the Tide fifth in the SEC and 23rd nationally at 16.6.

In total offense, LSU is first at 421.8 yards per game, Bama eighth at 335.8. In defense, LSU is first in both the SEC and the nation allowing 215.7 yards per game, Bama fourth in the conference and 15th nationally allowing 277.2.

In rushing, LSU is second in the SEC and 30th in the nation at 166.2 yards per game, Alabama eighth in the league and 70th in the nation at 130.2. In rushing defense, the Tigers are second in the league and sixth nationally at 71.4 and Bama third in the SEC and 31st nationally at 107.8.

In passing offense, LSU is second in the SEC and 18th in the nation at 255.6 yards per game, Alabama sixth in the league and 52nd in the nation at 205.6. Defensively, LSU is first in the conference and seventh nationally allowing 144.2, while Bama is fifth in the SEC and 29th in the nation at 169.4. In pass efficiency, LSU is first in the SEC and seventh in the nation, tthe Tide eighth in the SEC and 56th nationally. In pass defense efficiency, the Tigers are first in the league and second nationally, Bama fourth in the conference and 24th in the nation.

On third downs, LSU is first with a 53.5 per cent conversion rate, the Tide seventh at 40.3 per cent. Defensively, opponents of the Tigers convert 27.4 and opponents of Bama 33.1, ranking first and fifth, respectively.

On fourth down tries, LSU is second (8-11, 72.7 per cent), the Tide sixth (6-11, 54.5 per cent). Defensively on fourth downs, LSU is tied for fourth (5-13, 38.5 per cent), Alabama sixth (5-12, 41.7 per cent).

In the red zone (the 20 yards to the end zone), LSU is fifth with 81.1 per cent success with 28 touchdowns in their 30 of 37 success rate. Bama is seventh with 33 of 43 for 76.7 per cent, but only 15 touchdowns. Defensively in the red zone, LSU is first, permitting only nine scores (and only four touchdowns) in only 17 opportunities, 52.9 per cent, while the Tide is eighth, allowing 20 of 26 (13 touchdowns), 76.9 per cent.

The Tigers are first in sacks with 28 for 158 yards in nine games and Alabama is 12th with only nine for 66 yards in 10 games. LSU has been sacked 12 times for 76 yards, third in the conference, Bama is tied for seventh, having been sacked 20 times for 127 yards.

In first downs, LSU is first with 200 (86 rush, 101 pass, 13 penalty) and Alabama second with 188 (78-93-17). Defensively, LSU is first allowing 111 (43 rush, 60 pass, 8 penalty), Bama second with 139 (55-76-8).

In punting, LSU is last in the league, but it's almost insignificant since the Tigers punt so rarely. On 25 punts LSU has netted 31.9 yards. Alabama with 44 punts has netted 33.2 yards per kick, 11th in the league. On punt returns, LSU is fifth at 9.4 yards per return and Bama ninth at 7.0.

LSU doesn't get many kickoff return opportunities and is 11th in the league, averaging 17.8 yards on just 11 runbacks. Bama is eight, averaging 19.4 on its 25 runbacks. On the other hand, LSU gets a lot of practice covering kickoffs and has a net gain (kickoff distance minus runback or touchback or out of bounds penalty) of 44 yards on 57 kicks, second in the league, and Bama is fifth, gaining 42.5 on 52 kicks.

On field goals, Alabama is sixth, 19-26 for 73.1 per cent, LSU seventh, 5-8, 62.5 per cent. In extra point kicking LSU is tied for first, 42-42, Bama 12th, 23-25.

In penalties, Alabama is fourth, penalized 42.7 yards per game, LSU fifth, 46.2 yards per game. Opponents have been penalized an average of 54.7 yards per game against Alabama, second in the SEC, LSU opponents 52.3, fourth.

In individual statistics, Alabama's Kenneth Darby is fifth in the SEC at 73.6 yards per game and LSU does not have a player in the top ten. In passing, JaMarcus Russell of LSU is second in yardage (239.7 per game) and first in efficiency, Bama's John Parker Wilson fifth in yardage (199.6) and seventh in efficiency.

The Tide's D.J. Hall is third in recpetions per game with 48 and LSU has Craig Davis tied for fifth with 44 and Dwayne Bowe tied for seventh with 43. Hall averages 112.2 yards per game, which is fifth in the conference and LSU does not have an individual ranked.

In interceptions, Bama's Simeon Castille is tied for second with five and the Tide's Lionel Mitchell is tied for fourth with LSU's Craig Steitz with four each.

Javier Arenas of Alabama ranks eighth in punt returns at 7.0 yards per return and LSU's Chevis Jackson is ninth at 6.7.

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