Our detailed unit by unit comparisons of the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide.
LSU rushing offense vs. Alabama rushing defense
The LSU ground attack continues to be the lifeblood of the Tigers' offense. LSU is averaging 224.3 yards per game on the ground. Led by do-everything running back Jacob Hester, the Tigers have ground out huge chunks of yardage against every quality opponent they have played, including 170 yards in a 30-24 win over Auburn. Alabama is fairly solid against the run, giving up an average of 131 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 37th nationally.
LSU passing offense vs. Alabama passing defense
Alabama isn't the best defensive team the Tigers will face this season, and the Tide's pass defensive statistics further prove that. LSU doesn't throw the ball exceptionally well but showed promise in the win over Auburn as Matt Flynn threw for a career-high 319 yards and three touchdowns. Alabama surrenders 223 yards per game through the air, which is a very average 62nd in the country.
Alabama rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense
The Crimson Tide is as average on offense as it is defensively. Running the ball, Alabama lacks a big-name running back and averages a mere 170 yards per game on the ground. Terry Grant leads the team with 127 carries for 697 yards with seven touchdowns. He is gaining 5.5 yards per rush and 87.1 yards per game. Glenn Coffee gets the call when Grant comes out of the game and he picks up 59 yards per game (90 carries, 413 yards, four TDs). LSU remains extremely stingy versus the run and ranks fifth overall, allowing 71.6 yards per game.
Alabama passing offense vs. LSU passing defense
The LSU secondary has looked quite suspect over the past few games. Both Andre' Woodson and Tim Tebow both exploited the Tigers' defensive backfield, and Auburn's Brandon Cox even enjoyed some success against LSU. You can bet Nick Saban is going to use his knowledge of the Tigers' secondary personnel against LSU as he will instruct John Parker Wilson in attacking the defense. LSU remains very good against the pass – statistically, that is. The Tigers allow just 160.6 yards per game through the air, which ranks fourth in the nation.
LSU special teams vs. Alabama special teams
Judging from the fact that LSU played horribly on special teams when Nick Saban was head coach, the Tigers get the obvious lean. Les Miles made a commitment on improving special teams play when he arrived at LSU and the Tigers have gotten better by leaps and bounds. Colt David is one of the most consistent place-kickers in the country, and Patrick Fisher, when he gets a chance to punt, is averaging 44 yards per kick (12th nationally). Chad Jones did fumble a bunch of punts against Auburn, but Early Doucet should be back at full speed for Saturday's game.
This is Alabama all the way. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have nothing to lose. No one expected Bama to be in serious contention for a shot at Atlanta. If the Tide does lose this game, it means nothing in the big picture. Many felt Saban could win eight or nine games this year, and that is still possible with a few cream puffs left on the slate and a bowl game. LSU has everything to lose as its national championship aspirations hang in the balance. No doubt Alabama – and Saban – want to spoil the Tigers' plans for a return trip to the BCS title game in New Orleans. Given that the game is being played in Tuscaloosa, a big advantage goes to the Tide.