When we last left our countdown we were in the state of Ohio and talking about the Buckeyes and Badgers. The closer it gets to the start of the season the worse it looks for the Buckeyes, which could open the door wide open for the Badgers. But for now, let's focus on the toughest division in all of college football. The division that has won three of the last four National Championships. Who are we talking about? If you don't know the answer to that question then I'm shocked that you found this blog. For our tenth game in this series we are heading down to Tuscaloosa where the Crimson Tide meet Crazy Les Miles and the Tigers of LSU.
LSU Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide
When: November 5th
Where: Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Most people have Alabama and LSU as the top two teams in the SEC West this year. For me personally, I have Alabama, then Arkansas and then LSU but I have all three ranked in my top six right now (we will release our official CFBZ Pre-Season Top 25 this August). Those are the three teams that will define the SEC West, the SEC and most likely the National Title this year. And it helps that there is a little bad blood in this game since Nick Saban once coached the LSU Tigers. You have to go back to 2006 until you can find a Bama/LSU game that's been decided by double digit points. So odds are that this one will be a nail biter.
Alabama finished 5th in Total Defense (yardage) last year in the Nation and LSU finished 12th so you can probably bet that this one is going to be a low scoring methodical game where every possession counts. Both teams will try to establish their running game early and often and I think it will be Alabama that will have more success at that. Both teams have some very talented RBs with Bama having the more household name in Trent Richardson. Despite being 12th in the Nation last year in Total Yardage Allowed, LSU wasn't that great against the run. Maybe that's because Cam Newton and Auburn racked up 400+ yards against them last year on the ground. Alabama only gained 102 yards on the ground against LSU last year and I think that will make this a focal point for Bama this year. If they can establish the run and take the pressure off of their first year starter at QB then they have a really good shot at winning.
The storylines will be interesting going into this game. You have two high profile Head Coaches going against each other (one of whom used to coach for the enemy), you have a new OC at LSU going up against Bama's DC Kirby Smart, you also have some interesting QB storylines for both teams this year and it will be very interesting to see how they have played out going into this game. Will it be AJ McCarron starting against Jordan Jefferson or will it be Phillip Sims or Zach Mettenberger getting the nod in this game? Only time will tell.
Coming into this game Bama's toughest games will have been against Arkansas, Penn State and Florida. LSU will have played Oregon, West Virginia, Mississippi State and Florida. Both teams will either have a Top 10 win on their resume and flying high or they will fighting their way out of a corner with all of their power. Out of all of the games we've previewed so far in our "15 Games That Will Decide The National Championship" series this is the one game out of the 15 that I think will have the biggest impact on who comes out of the SEC. Maybe Petrino and Arkansas can find lightning in a bottle with their immense offensive talent but my bones tell me that this THE game to watch. If you only watch one game this year (which we know you will watch much, much more) make this that one game because it has the most riding on it.
15 Games That Will Decide The National Champion: