f there is a clear edge in this matchup, it goes to Alabama's offense. AJ McCarron has matured into a game-changer and has reliable targets in Amari Cooper and Kenny Bell. Another big factor in UA's favor should be an offensive line built around Barrett Jones, which should help Alabama gain traction on the ground. Zach Mettenberger has been a bit shaky at quarterback for LSU, and no receiver has made a mark. The Tigers have a stable of running backs, and Jeremy Hill has stepped up lately.
oth units are among the nation's elite, and among the most physical in the land. Alabama is ranked first nationally in total defense, scoring defense, passing defense and rushing defense, with C.J. Mosley leading the way at linebacker and Dee Milliner and Robert Lester locking down the secondary. The Tigers aren't far behind, ranked in the top 10 in all four categories. LSU's Eric Reid came up big against Alabama in the regular season last year, and linemen Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery are beasts.
ho would have thought that Alabama would end up with the edge in the kicking game in the BCS title game last season? That's what happened, but LSU has a slight advantage here. LSU punter Brad Wing and kicker Drew Alleman are steady. Alabama counters with kicker Jeremy Shelley and punter Cody Mandell, who has shown the ability to boom them long at times. UA's Cyrus Jones is a big play waiting to happen, but Alabama's kickoff coverage has been a sore point of late.
here is not a more accomplished coach in all of college football than Nick Saban, but LSU's Les Miles has been able to hold his own. The Tigers got the better of UA in 2010 and in the regular season last year, although Alabama's Saban won the one that really counted in New Orleans. No other program in the SEC, and probably in the nation, is able to field the kind of talent that can stand toe-to-toe with Alabama year-in and year-out like LSU has been able to, and Miles is the man who assembles those teams.
here is a reason LSU has won 22 games in a row in Death Valley, as its home stadium is known. Playing at home at night is a big advantage for LSU, and the Tigers have a lot of motivation from the way last season ended with a shutout loss to Alabama. The Crimson Tide hasn't really had to play into the fourth quarter with the outcome on the line, while LSU has been hardened by a couple of closer games. Alabama will need to go for 60 minutes this time.
Alabama 17, LSU 10
Don't look too closely at the statistics. Alabama has put up better offensive numbers, but hasn't faced defenses on par with Florida and South Carolina, which played LSU. All in all, however, the Crimson Tide seems better on offense and more consistent overall.