Breakdown: A closer look at LSU-Bama

The LSU Tigers enter Saturday's contest with the Alabama Crimson Tide looking to improve to 9-1. <br><br> However, the Tiers are coming off an open date and hope to avoid a letdown much like the one to Florida after LSU's first bye week.

The 4-6 Crimson Tide is a capable team, but is nowehere near as talented as those Gators, which upset LSU 19-7.

Look for the Tigers to control this game from the onset setting the stage for next week's showdown in Oxford.

LSU rushing offense vs. Alabama rushing defense

Over the last three weeks, LSU¹s rushing attack has been among the best in the SEC, if not the nation. The Tigers¹ talented trio of freshman running backs have carried their load effectively. With the return of Joseph Addai and Shyrone Carey, the LSU rushing attack is back to full strength. If the
Tiger offensive line can continue playing to full potential, LSU should be able to maneuver through the Tide's 24th-rated rushing defense (112 ypg).

Advantage: LSU

LSU passing offense vs. Alabama  pass defense

Alabama's passing defense has been one of the Tide's many weaknesses this year. Don¹t expect numbers like Rohan Davey put up against Alabama in 2001 (35-of-44 for 528 yards), but quarterback Matt Mauck has been red hot lately. Mauck completed his first 14 attempts against Louisiana Tech and ranks 12th in the nation in pass efficiency completing 150 of 230 passes. Bama is 66th in the country in pass efficiency defense and is allowing 215 yards per game.

Advantage: LSU


Alabama rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense

The Tigers' rushing defense is second-best in the nation allowing only 60 yards per game. After shutting down the best backfield in the league against Auburn three weeks ago, the LSU defense aims to throttle the league's top running back. Shaud Williams has gained 1,140 yards, which is tops in the SEC, and has scored 12 touchdowns. We like the Tigers' chances.

Advantage: LSU


Alabama passing offense vs. LSU pass defense

If there has been any phase of LSU¹s team that has been suspect in 2003, it is the Tigers' pass defense. Although LSU is among the best in the nation in pass efficiency defense, the Tigers are giving up 203 yards through the air, most resulting from big plays. Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle has been banged up most of the season, but he has big play ability. However, if the Tigers are able to pressure Croyle like they have every other quarterback, LSU's chances are good.

Advantage: PUSH

LSU special teams vs. Alabama special teams

Two words - Skyler Green. LSU may not be the best field goal kicking team in the SEC, but the Tigers dominate both sides of the punting game. Green leads the nation in punt returns averaging 15.7 yards per return on 11 tries with two returns for touchdowns. Green was so feared two weeks ago that Louisiana Tech punted seven times, all of which were angled out of bounds. Alabama is 85th in the nation in net punting, which could play right into Green¹s hands. Plus, Donnie Jones continues to have an excellent season.

Advantage: LSU


The last time LSU came out of a bye week, the Tigers fell flat in a 19-7 home loss to Florida. Alabama built some momentum with a 38-0 thrashing of Mississippi State last week. The Tide, being ineligible for the postseason, would enjoy nothing more than to spoil LSU¹s BCS hopes with a win over the 3rd-ranked Tigers.

Advantage: ALABAMA


Alabama will come out sky-high against LSU in front of a nationally-televised audience on ESPN. However, the Tide's party ends early as the Tigers bolt out to their usual fast start. LSU may not dispose of Alabama as quickly as Georgia did earlier this season, but the Tigers will use a blitzkrieg attack both offensively and defensively leaving the Tide befuddled. LSU gets the job done.

Predicted score: LSU 25, Alabama 14

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