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LSU @ Alabama

by: Rich Salvatori @dickiesalvatori - posted on: 07-Nov-2013

One of college football’s best rivalries over the last years gets renewed in Tuscaloosa this Saturday, and it should be another good one.

The Crimson Tide is the undisputed kings of the college football landscape. They sit at number one in every major poll and control their destiny. Beating the Tigers could go a long way toward inching closer to finalizing that destiny with a trip to the national championship.

‘Bama is a 12.5-13 point favorite in this game and deservedly so. Advanced metrics show Alabama has a top five offense and defense, and they have completely dominated their opponents since the classic in College Station back on September 14.

This LSU attack boasts nearly as much potency as the Aggies did through the air, and they also have balance in the form of Jeremy Hill. Hill is a physical specimen playing running back. He runs with both anger and decisiveness, and that has enabled him to be the most recent individual to have recorded a 100 yard game against the Crimson Tide, doing it in each of the last two meetings.

Hill is on record this week as having stated that last year’s game “haunts” him. Those words are indicative of the type of rivalry this is. These teams are heavyweights and play with a quality to their game that is reminiscent of professional football. Each of the last two games has gone down to the wire, with the road team winning both times.

While Zach Mettenberger and his receivers garner much media attention given the statistics they have achieved this year, Hill and the Tigers offensive line hold the key to this game. On the flip side, this might be one of the worst defensive units Les Miles has created during his tenure at LSU. Keeping their participation in this to a minimum will be a critical byproduct of whatever ground game the Tigers show up with, a factor that can also help to control crowd noise early.

When A.j. McCarron and his group have the ball, all indicators point to the Crimson Tide as having a major edge. McCarron is a veteran presence at quarterback who has two solid running backs and an all-world wide-out who can change games at all times in Amari Cooper by his side as well.

LSU has been gashed on several occasions. However, part of that was due to the massive roster turnover they had from a year ago. They also played a significantly more challenging schedule, given the nature of match-ups with TCU, Ole Miss, Auburn and Georgia (when fully healthy). All those teams have quality quarterbacks and incredible offensive potential.

‘Bama, on the other hand, has played the following games since their date with Johnny Football: Colorado State, Ole Miss, Georgia State, Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee. With all due respect to the SEC, that is mostly a group of bottom feeders with the exception of Hugh Freeze’s group. 

I look for Miles to get his defense playing more disciplined given their recent bye week. The ‘Bama offense is still good enough to rack up yards and points here, but if the Tigers can eliminate big plays and make this game more of a grind, they will hang around.

I saw this line at 13.5 and bought the half point up to 14. The Crimson Tide could undoubtedly roll here and win this game big. But I don’t see that happening, and the psychology of both teams plays a factor in that.

For Nick Saban’s club, they have to feel slightly disrespected given the recent notoriety handed to teams like Florida State, Baylor and Oregon. They ran up the score, to an extent, in their last three games. They probably didn’t do that in order to get more votes, because if they win out they will be in the title game regardless of what others are doing.

But the key here is pressure they face. Should they lose this game, it would provide for an anti-climactic ending to an incredible ride in the last two and a half years. For LSU, there is virtually zero pressure. They have already taken two losses this season.

They also have veteran players in Mettenberger, Hill, Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry who likely know this is their last hurrah and an incredible opportunity to literally make their season, regardless of final loss tally, all the more unforgettable by ruining the outlook for a bitter rival.

In addition, they have the right to feel disrespected here. No one is picking them to win this game, but pound for pound they aren’t too far behind this ‘Bama team.  Taking them at +14 could well be a loser given what the Crimson Tide have proven capable of recently. 

The Crimson tide are a team i prefer not to "mess" with unless i am laying my money on them. Still, there is too much value in that position to pass up, especially with a money-line of +385 hanging out there. 

LSU +14