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November 2, 2012The TideSports.com staff make their predictions for Alabama homecoming matchup with LSU.
Alabama's starters had better be prepared to play a full four quarters in Death Valley. LSU, which still has hopes of reaching Atlanta and the SEC Championship Game, ranks second in the league in rushing defense, passing defense and total defense. LSU hasn't been setting records with its passing attack, but Zach Metenberger is a capable quarterback when he has time. If Alabama is the No. 1 team in the nation, it has to pass this test in a hostile environment.
Alabama comes off its most impressive victory of the season and is playing well in just about every area. In narrow wins over South Carolina and Texas A&M, LSU has shown impressive resiliency in rebounding from its lone loss of the season to Florida. The Tigers aren't showing much explosiveness offensively, however, and have struggled to protect QB Zach Mettenberger. LSU has relied on the one thing Alabama's defense is least likely to give up - a successful power running game.
It is going to be a long night at the office for both offenses on Saturday. Twenty-three points would better the combined total from either of last year's two games. So call it an offensive explosion, with Alabama - barely - emerging as sole survivor.
Before the season, I didn't give Alabama much chance to win this game, but that was back when I thought Zach Mettenberger was an upgrade at quarterback for LSU. The Tigers do have a few things going for them: Death Valley at night, a stout defense and a newfound running star in freshman Jeremy Hill. The game will be close, but eventually LSU's lack of a vertical passing game and Alabama's ability to wear opposing defense down will make the difference.
Even with a bye week it's not likely that Zach Mettenberger will suddenly become a consistent downfield passing threat, so LSU will try to hammer away with its running game. LSU has a championship caliber defense and will keep things close for a while, but AJ McCarron and the rest of the Alabama offense are playing with such efficiency the Crimson Tide won't be limited to just field goals like last year's regular-season showdown.
LSU 10 (OT)
Overtime has been needed to decide the winner of this game three times since 2005, so why not a fourth time? Alabama have a challenge unlike any it's faced this season as the Tide squares off with LSU in Death Valley. The Tigers will be fired up and will put heavy pressure on Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron. Don't look for either team's running game to break loose. Both teams have premier run stopping defenses. In the end, McCarron and the Tide offense wins out.
Most of the college football world will be keeping an eye on this game, and most will probably be pulling for LSU so Alabama can't make it back to the BCS C hampionship Game. They've had too much of Alabama and the SEC. And the Tigers will try to make it happen. Like we've said a couple of times already this season, this will be Alabama's biggest challenge to date. LSU won't go down easily. But the Tigers will go down. And this time, touchdowns will be involved.
Alabama is a better football team. That doesn't mean the Crimson Tide will win, although it should, but it does mean that Nick Saban's bunch holds an advantage over the Tigers, especially on offense. AJ McCarron is superior, as LSU should remember from January. The only discernible advantage LSU has is Tiger Stadium.