Last week, College Gameday traveled to Memphis to seemingly avoid SEC some SEC bias backlash. Don’t get me wrong, SMU/Memphis was a great game, plus it was huge in determining the G5 rep in the NY6. However, we all know the biggest game of the week last week was the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
Georgia and Florida faced off in a huge SEC matchup that was essentially an elimination game. Whatever team lost was done, while the team that won gave themselves a great chance to get to the SEC Championship game. It was a great game, a fucking phenomenal atmosphere and honestly, Gameday should have been there.
At least they got it right this week. Gameday is back in SEC country for what people are calling the game of the decade. #2 LSU travels to Tuscaloosa to face off against #3 Alabama in a HUGE matchup with enormous playoff implications. The winner is in the driver’s seat while the loser has to impress the committee over the next 4 weeks. Let’s jump right into it.
#2 LSU @ #3 Alabama
This rivalry has consistently been one of the best rivalries in the SEC, but the games have not exactly been “instant classics”. LSU hasn’t scored an offensive TD in 3 years against Bama, but this year is certain to be different.
Both teams come into this game with top 4 scoring offenses in the country. LSU is averaging a cool 47 PPG while the Tide are averaging an even cooler 49 PPG. Both are led by all world QBs and that is exactly where the biggest storyline of this game starts.
Tua injured his ankle and got surgery on it 3 weeks ago. We were all positive he would play in this game, but the question was how healthy would he actually be? How effective would he be on that bad ankle? Well he is suiting up and we will all find out today!
For me, the most intriguing matchup, and the matchup that may determine the outcome of the game, is the Alabama WR core against that LSU secondary. Derek Stingley and Grant Delpit against the likes of Jerry Jeudy, Devonta Smith, and Henry Ruggs is going to be must watch. The WRs are going to have to create plenty of separation to make sure Tua isn’t under too much pressure with that injury.
The run games for both teams will also be imperative in this game. Neither team relies on their run game to win games, but the team who can run the ball today will control the clock regardless of how many points each team is putting up. Running the ball successfully will allow defenses to rest up while keeping the opposing team’s QB on the sideline and that usually seems to be a recipe for success.
This is also one of the most entertaining coaching matchups we will have all season. Nick Saban against Coach O. Two polar opposites in terms of personality as Saban is Belichick-ish with his no smile attitude, while Coach O is one of the most likeable guys in all of sports because of his outgoing, happy personality. We know what Saban is capable of, but Coach O has completely changed the culture at one of the most storied programs in the SEC. It is going to be fun as fuck to watch these two get after it!
With all of that said, we know that the biggest matchup of the day is Joe Burrow vs Tua Tagovailoa. They are both in the top 4 in total QBR and they are both in the top 3 in efficiency rating. They are both most likely going to be top 5 draft picks in the 2020 draft as well. Simply put, this is one of the best QB matchups we will ever see in a college game during the regular season.
Not only do we have a great QB battle on our hands, but the WR matchup is fucking awesome too! There might be 6 NFL receivers on the field today. Some NFL games don’t have 6 NFL quality receivers on the field.
LSU Keys to the Game
PROTECT JOE BURROW! Burrow was under siege against Auburn and was ultimately only sacked 3 times, but it played a huge role in LSU having their lowest scoring game of the season. The Tiger OL needs to be better this week against Bama. Giving Burrow 3-4 seconds per dropback will be the difference in scoring 40+ compared to less than 30 if he is running for his life all day.
On defense the key is going to be keeping the WRs in front of them. This is where Grant Delpit will come in to play. CBs get beat at all levels. It’s one of the most difficult positions in all of sports to play from an athletic standpoint. Once the CBs get beat by the Bama WRs, Delpit needs to make sure, as a safety, that he is in a position to make a tackle before they are off to the races. It seems like at least once a week one of the Tide WRs takes an 8 yard slant to the fucking crib. Keeping the WRs in front of them and not letting them get into the open field is LSU’s biggest task on defense.
If they do both of these things they will win this game!
Alabama Keys to the Game
Protecting Tua! I know this really goes without saying, but usually it’s not too big of a deal for the Tide. That is not the case this week. Tua is not 100% and that OL needs to keep him on his feet to make sure he stays in the game. The WRs get out of their breaks as well as any group of WRs in the country and Tua usually doesn’t need more than 2-2.5 seconds, but today is all about his health! He may prove me wrong, but I can’t imagine he is going to want to scramble or roll out of the pocket, which he is usually pretty good at. With that ankle, he will want to sit in a clean pocket and get rid of the ball quickly. I expect LSU to throw some blitzes at them early to see how they respond. Picking up any blitzes and protecting against a normal 4 man rush will dictate the entire game for this offense.
On defense the Tide will need to get to Joe Burrow. Even if they are not sacking him, they need to be up his ass all day. The only chance to slow this offense down is to make Joe uncomfortable and Auburn put a blueprint out for that two weeks ago. Now Auburn’s DL is fucking ridiculous, but Saban should develop some kind of scheme to make sure they are up his ass for most of the day. Burrow will fucking pick them apart if he has a clean pocket on most of his dropbacks.
This game has all the potential to be one of the best regular season CFB games ever. Tuscaloosa is going to be fucking wild as shit and the atmosphere is insane!
The pick is in….
I think LSU’s OL holds up just enough for Burrow to shit on Bama’s defense for 350 and 4 TDs. The secondary will come up with a big play in the 2nd half to secure the game and the Tigers win 41-37!