PREVIEW: LSU vs. Alabama - The Matchups

After losing to Mississippi State last week, there are few categories in which Alabama will have the advantage in facing LSU this weekend. Here is how we see it.

LSU rushing offense vs. Alabama rushing defense:

This is a category in which LSU has been at a disadvantage all season long. The Tigers have been thin in numbers across the defensive front and the LSU running backs have been less than impressive until the Tigers' most recent win over Tennessee. In that game, coach Les Miles used five different running backs sticking with his hot-hand theory. It worked like a charm as LSU ran for a season-high 231 yards. LSU is averaging 166 yards per game, which is second in the SEC behind Arkansas. The Tide is giving up 107 yards on the ground, which is 31st nationally.

Advantage: LSU

 

 

LSU passing offense vs. Alabama passing defense:

JaMarcus Russell pieced together arguably his greatest game as an LSU quarterback last Saturday night at Tennessee. Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher praised his signal caller for being able to overcome three interceptions engineering a fourth quarter rally for a big win on the road. Russell is in sync with his receiving trio of Dwayne Bowe, Early Doucet and Craig Davis and should do a number on the Tide's pass defense. Alabama is respectable in allowing just 169 passing yards each contest, but the SEC's second-best passing offense should slice and dice the Alabama secondary.

Advantage: LSU

 

 

Alabama rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense:

Remember when Alabama used to hang its "Houndstooth" hat on running the football down people's throats. That doesn't seem to be the case these days. While Kenneth Darby is among the best running backs in the league the Tide is averaging just 130 yards per game on the ground – which ranks 70th overall in Division I-A. Ouch! That isn't good when added to the equation, which includes an LSU rushing defense that is ranked second in the SEC and sixth in the nation (71 yards per game).

Advantage: LSU

 

 

Alabama passing offense vs. LSU passing defense:

Remember that quarterback Brodie Croyle? He was supposed to have been the Tide's best-ever quarterback. He was 0-for-3 against the Tigers and got roughed up every time he faced LSU. John Parker Wilson is a capable signal caller, but isn't as talented as his predecessor. Don't expect Wilson to come into Tiger Stadium and do any more than Croyle against a pass defense that is allowing just 144 yards per game, which is good enough for seventh nationally.

Advantage: LSU

 

 

LSU special teams vs. Alabama special teams:

As the season is coming down the home stretch, LSU seems to be getting things worked out on special teams. The blunders from the Florida game are becoming a distant memory and punter Chris Jackson is coming off his best game of the season. Craig Davis has given LSU an actual threat in the return game and everyone is itching to see Trindon Holliday get his hands on a kickoff return. Colt David has been perfect on PATs and is almost automatic from 40 yards and in on field goals. Alabama punter PJ Fitzgerald is eighth in the SEC in punting and the Tide is a combined average of 81st nationally in punt and kickoff returns. Plus, Alabama has even had problems kicking PATs this season. Sure LSU is 105th in kickoff returns and 99th in net punting, but the Tigers get the edge.

Advantage: LSU

 

 

Intangibles:

Coming into Tiger Stadium, Alabama fans still feel the need to dwell on the Tide's lengthy winning streak in Tiger Stadium. But LSU has won two of the last three against Alabama in Baton Rouge and five of the last six in the overall series. The Crimson Tide will have one thing working in its favor – the fact they got beat by a dreadful team last week in arguably Mike Shula's worst loss of his tenure in Tuscaloosa. You can bet the Tide is going to want to atone for last week's disastrous hiccup.

Advantage: Alabama


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