Unbeaten and top-ranked Alabama has been untested through nine weeks of the season, but there’s a formula to beat the Crimson Tide according to SEC Network analyts Marcus Spears and Greg McElroy, who detailed their thought process earlier this week on Thinking Out Loud.
“There’s a formula, but I’m not sure it’s done by way of their defense,” McElroy said. “The formula for (beating) Alabama this year might be having an explosive offense. For instance, Oklahoma who can light up the scoreboard. They can make a play. Clemson might be able to do the same thing. A team with significant firepower might be able to challenge even though we have not seen that happen yet.”
On the outside looking in, it wouldn’t appear fourth-ranked LSU has the necessary explosiveness on offense to win a shootout in Saturday night’s showdown vs. the Crimson Tide with the SEC’s 11th-ranked total offense and No. 6 scoring offense. Getting off to a good start is key vs. the Crimson Tide, who have humiliated the competition in the first quarter this season by jumping out to multi-touchdown leads in every game.
Last time out vs. Tennessee, Tua Tagovailoa and the Alabama offense scored a touchdown on the first possession for the eighth consecutive game and piled up 545 yards of total offense. Alabama has the fewest turnovers in the SEC this season (6) and leads college football in third-down conversation rate at a jaw-dropping 56 percent.
Those are incredible numbers for a unit that has taken the next step through the air under Tagovailoa’s tutelage and is averaging a nation-best 54.1 points per game. Spears says it may take a few uncharacteristic mistakes from Alabama to find a chink in the armor for the Tigers.
“Any team can be beat,” Spears said. “It can be their own undoing. We’ve seen a really good Bama team lose to Ole Miss with five turnovers. Now they wouldn’t lose that game if it wasn’t self-inflicted wounds, but yes, I wouldn’t say any team is unbeatable.”
Nick Saban said this week he expects a strong effort from LSU defensively and knows Saturday night will present a tremendous challenge for his team.
“They’re very athletic, very good (within the) front seven,” Saban said. (They) do a good job of stopping the run. They’ve got a really good secondary who leads the nation in interceptions. Devin White is probably as good a linebacker as there is anywhere. I know he’ll be out part of the game. This team has very good special teams and they have really, really good specialists. This team is really good all around. So every part of our team is going to be challenged and they’re going to have to respond really well to the challenges in this game.”
Alabama is a 14-point favorite against LSU and has won seven straight in the SEC West rivalry series.