TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Anyone who is trying to talk themselves into thinking No. 4 LSU has a chance to hang in with or beat No. 1 Alabama is clinging to one thing: The fact that the game is in Baton Rouge.
Alabama and LSU have had some interesting games in Death Valley during Nick Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa. Alabama needed overtime to win in 2008, lost in 2010, needed a late go-ahead touchdown to win in 2012, overtime to win in 2014 and managed just 10 points in a win in 2016.
That all changes this year. Look for Alabama to pound LSU on Nov. 3 simply because Alabama’s offense is too explosive to be held down for an entire game.
As long as Tua Tagovailoa is at quarterback for Alabama, teams have to put up 40 or more points just to hang around and you’ll likely need 50-plus to win.
The LSU Tigers don’t have that kind of production in them.
The most points the Tigers have scored in a game this season is 45 against Ole Miss. It’s the only time the Tigers have gone over 40.
Alabama sometime scores that many in a half. The fewest points Alabama has scored is 39 against Missouri. That was because the game was over in the first half, and Alabama went full ball control to close it out.
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is having a decent season, doing enough to not lose the Tigers any games. But he’s only completing 54 percent of his passes and has thrown for just six touchdowns against three interceptions. He’ll likely need to throw for six touchdowns in this one game if LSU hopes to hang around. To his credit, Burrow also has four rushing touchdowns on the season.
No disrespect to Burrow, but he’s not the type who’s going to win a shootout against Tagovailoa and Alabama’s high-octane offense.
The Tigers run game hasn’t been very explosive either. The Tigers went into Saturday tied for 12th in the SEC at 4.33 yards per rush. Only Tennessee was worse at 3.56.
The Tigers are also dead last in the SEC in yards per play, averaging 5.33, which might be the most damning stat of all. Alabama leads the league at 8.3 yards per play (that was No. 2 in the country behind Oklahoma’s 8.69 entering Saturday). The Crimson Tide is the only team in the SEC above 8 yards per play.
Expecting LSU to win this game is expecting the Tigers to become something they’re not or expecting Alabama’s offense to not show up. Neither is likely to happen.
Honestly, this one could get ugly if LSU isn’t careful. Sure, the Tigers will play hard and compete but sometimes that’s just not enough.