Saban Bowl XIII

Saturday Spotlight

(1) Alabama Crimson Tide at (3) LSU Tigers

Alabama: At this rate, what else is there to say about them? Each year, they’re a lead-pipe lock to win the SEC West, get to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game and ever since the College Football Playoff was presented to us, they have been one of the four teams to make it since it all began in 2015. This is a much different team that we’ve seen the Crimson Tide have because when you look at each of the five title teams over the nine-year span, they’ve all been built the same and that’s a consistent running game, a defense that prides themselves on being physical and getting a takeaway when they need too and offensively, they’ve had game managers at quarterback who didn’t have to do too much because they had the defense to lean on and the running game to take pressure off them. Let’s look at them in 2018. The defense wasn’t a question mark necessarily, but their secondary was because of all they lost from last year’s title team but those issues have been fixed and the defense is solid once again giving up 16 points per contest. It’s been the offense that’s made people talk and this is by far the best offense that Nick Saban has had since taking the job in Tuscaloosa. Tua Tagovailoa has been on a tear this year and the numbers don’t lie. He’s thrown 25 touchdown passes and zero interceptions, no, that isn’t a typo so trust me, you read that correctly. He’s the lock right now for the Heisman trophy. It’s the first Saturday of November and there’s one game that we will always have to look forward too. It’s rivalry night in Baton Rouge tonight.

LSU: After the loss to Florida, they’ve bounced back nicely and they even handed the then second-ranked Georgia Bulldogs their first loss of the season and they embarrassed them. They pressured Jake Fromm, limited their running game, playing phenomenal coverage across the board on their receivers and they were able to dominate and control the clock offensively. That’s been the reason why they’ve been so successful this year. I look at their last game prior to the bye week against the Mississippi State Bulldogs and they were still able to finish the job despite not getting the best performance from Joe Burrow, but the defense once again came to the rescue and held quarterback Nick Fitzgerald under 100 yards passing and intercepted him four times in a 19-3 win. When the LSU Tigers control the clock and force those turnovers, they’re impossible to bring down. I’ve been impressed with what they’ve done this year as a team. Ed Orgeron has a mentally tough group that shows it every Saturday, they run the ball with a heavy dose of Nick Brossette, they finally have their quarterback in Joe Burrow and a defense that’s been one of the better units in the nation under coordinator Dave Aranda. If LSU wants any shot to win the SEC West, they will have to bring down a team they haven’t beat since 2011.

Alabama Player To Watch: Jerry Jeudy– Everyone thought Henry Ruggs III would be the top receiver for the Tide this year. He’s been solid for them, but this kid here has really been the guy to help the offense open up. He’s scored on ten of Tua’s 25 touchdown passes. He’s always moving and he’s what I call “sneaky quick” because he finds ways to get open. If LSU plays off him, he will sit in the zone and make the catch.

LSU Player To Watch: Rashard Lawrence– He was a five-star defensive tackle entering college and he’s a vital piece of the Tigers front seven. He’s a scrappy guy that fights for everything and the key for LSU having some success in this one will be to rush Tua.

Final Analysis: I absolutely love this matchup and it always lives up to the hype. Most of the time, the games are always close and they always come down to the fourth quarter. This will be the best defense that Bama will have seen all year and LSU will be bringing the heat all game long. As I always say, the best way to wear down a great defense is to run the ball and Bama struggles to stop the run. I want to see how Tua will try to attack arguably the best secondary in the country.

Prediction: Alabama 31 LSU 17