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Tiger Blitz Game Preview: LSU-Alabama meet again in showdown, but things have changed on both sides

Tiger Blitz previews another huge matchup between LSU and Alabama as the two teams meet in Tiger Stadium on Saturday night, but with new names, schemes and a bevy of storylines in the latest chapter of this rivalry.

WHEN: Saturday, November 5 at 7:10 pm CT
WHERE: Tiger Stadium (Baton Rouge, La.)
TV/RADIO: CBS/Tiger Sports Radio Network
SERIES: Alabama leads 50-25-5
LAST MEETING: LSU fell 30-16 in Tuscaloosa in 2015
LINE:
LSU +8
OVER/UNDER: 
45

Tiger Trends

LSU has been trending up ever since Ed Orgeron took the job following Les Miles' departure and after a 3-0 start under Orgeron, the Tigers enter with as much confidence as the team has had entering this matchup in the last five years. Danny Etling leading the offense has led to three straight games with record-setting performances from LSU. Whether it was total yards in an SEC game, average yards per play or Leonard Fournette's single-game rushing record performance, the Tigers have been on offensively. 

***The LSU-Alabama visitor list is star-studded, but there's still a few questions. Get the full list.***

Defensively, no team has allowed fewer touchdowns this season than LSU. That's impressive and don't expect this to be a shootout. Both defenses are too good. LSU's run defense is top 15 while the Tide's is No. 1 on the season so far. With Kendell Beckwith and Duke Riley in the middle, the veteran presence there and getting LSU in the right calls will be critical as execution and assignment football will be key. 

Andy Altenburger - SCOUT

Scouting the Crimson Tide

A key cog for Alabama is a game time decision for Saturday night. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley will wait until game time to see if the talented receiver will play for Alabama. This season, the Tide have gotten the ball in Ridley's hands in multiple ways, but he's not the only capable receiver for quarterback Jalen Hurts to go to. Under Lane Kiffin, Alabama has gone more and more to the spread offense and with Hurts operating it, a zone-read team in the running game. The Tide are coming off a game against Texas A&M where the Alabama should have been able to convert more opportunities into points, but the Tide are very capable of finishing drives and putting up points.

Stuart McNair

The Alabama defense is attacking, aggressive and it starts in the front three or four defensive linemen that get after the quarterback. You look at what Alabama did for the most part against Arkansas by punishing Austin Allen most of the night and forcing Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight into mistakes and exposing Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs. The list could go on, but this team loves to attack opposing quarterbacks. It's LSU's job to keep the nation's leading sack and tackles for loss team in check.

Tim Williams scoops and scores (USA TODAY Sports)

Matchups to Watch

Jamal Adams vs. O.J. Howard: The big Bama tight end that can run like a receiver is the second straight game-changing tight end the Tigers will face. The defense combined to hold Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram to just 15 yards. Can Dave Aranda replicate that performance for LSU again with a similar performance? With Ridley a game time decision, Howard will be even more key.

***Tiger Blitz breaks down the five Alabama offensive players to watch on Saturday.***

Arden Key vs. Cam Robinson: The best offensive tackle in college football versus the SEC's sack leader. Robinson has to protect a true freshman quarterback from a player that has attacked opposing quarterbacks for most of the season. If Key can get pressure and sack Hurts at least once, he'll start looking behind him potentially and thinking about that pressure. Would only help LSU's efforts with a big game from Key.

Jeff Hanisch - USA TODAY SPORTS

Keys to the Game

Stop the Run. If LSU can make Jalen Hurts beat them through the air, LSU will stand a big chance to win this game. Hurts has been good, but he's still a freshman on the road facing LSU's secondary. The Tigers have worked all week on the run game and now, if the Tigers can perform, they will ruin much of what Kiffin would like to do.

No Turnovers. Alabama can take away the football and score it on their own as a defense. LSU has to take care of the football. Ultimately, LSU can win this game without forcing an Alabama turnover (although it'd be nice), but for the Tigers, the team can't turn the football over. Alabama is too good not to take advantage.

Crystal LoGiudice/USA Today

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What to Watch For

When LSU is on Offense: A few wrinkles. How will LSU find new ways to use Derrius Guice and Leonard Fournette on the field at the same time. We saw a little bit of that against Ole Miss with success for LSU including giving us Fournette's demolition of Deontay Anderson, but how else can the Tigers get the pair on the field? We shall see.

When LSU is on Defense: Selling out to stop the run has been the message it seems all week. Expect LSU to load the box and rely on the team's talented secondary to make the plays to shut down the passing game when the Tide throw it on LSU. LSU doesn't want Hurts to have a big game and stopping the run will be the Tigers' focus and it's been something the team has been good at so far this year.

When Alabama is on Offense: Watch for the big play shots. Orgeron said it this week that Lane Kiffin will set you up a few times a game for a shot. LSU has to stay focused and can't get lulled to sleep by some plays. Bama will try to work things off of a singular play to attack a defense. LSU has to watch for those shots.

When Alabama is on Defense: The pass rush is probably the biggest problem LSU has to contend with. The speed and edge rushers this defense has is unlike any defense Alabama has rolled out. The speed is undeniable and not many teams have been able to have success for a full game. 

***Check out Tiger Blitz' breakdown of the five Alabama defensive players to watch against LSU.***

Tiger Blitz Predictions

Billy Embody: It's tough to pick against Alabama after five years of beating LSU, but the Tigers are due and the energy of Ed Orgeron could give LSU new life and the confidence to do this. Leonard Fournette has struggled in his two games against Alabama. This year, he makes a big enough impact to insert himself in the Heisman race again. Jalen Hurts has seen his turnover-free play end the last couple games and against LSU's solid secondary, I expect that to continue. On the flip side, Danny Etling will take care of the football enough for LSU to hang on for the win. LSU 24, Alabama 21.

Randy Rosetta: Well, here we go again (if you’re old enough, that’s a tribute to Ronald Reagan in his debate vs. Jimmy Carter in 1980). Not many games warm the pit in college football fans’ bellies like LSU-Alabama and there certainly is plenty of heat to this one. The Tigers are the underdog and understandably so, because this may be the best team Nick Saban has assembled in his time on The Capstone. They score in all kinds of ways, which is something LSU must stifle. For the Tigers to notch the upset, they need to rattle Jalen Hurts quickly, get a lead that keeps fueling what should be a raucous home crowd and get Leonard Fournette AND Derrius Guice clicking on offense – throw the ball on early downs to use the pass to set up the run. All that said, a late field goal gets the Tigers close, but … Alabama 19, LSU 13

Murf Baldwin: LSU is finally able to achieve pretty decent rushing production, which, in-turn, allows it to get to its vast vertical concepts off play action; Bama struggles to stop the pass the further it gets down the field and allows a couple of explosive TDs. LSU 24, Alabama 17.

Full Ed Orgeron Thursday Press Conference


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