THE CALL

By Tommy Deas

OFFENSE
Advantage: Alabama
These Tigers are more balanced than LSU has been in the past, thanks to quarterback Joe Burrow bringing some efficient passing to the offense. Alabama has a Heisman Trophy contender under center in Tua Tagovailoa and averages 54 points per game.

DEFENSE
Advantage: Even
Alabama has shown improvement but still gives up yards in big chunks at times. The Crimson Tide allows almost 16 points per game, while LSU allows 15. Alabama ranks a tad higher in total defense, and LSU will be without star linebacker Devin White for a half.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Advantage: LSU
Alabama has changed kickers and punters already this season, although it maintains an explosive return game with Josh Jacobs and Jaylen Waddle. Cole Tracy has made 21 of 23 field goals attempts for the Tigers. The Crimson Tide doesn’t want this to come down to the kicking game.

COACHING
Advantage: Alabama
Ed Orgeron seemed to be a questionable hire after LSU fired Les Miles, but the Louisiana native has the Tigers playing well through a tough schedule to start the season. Nick Saban, however, is on another level and may be the best in college football history.

INTANGIBLES
Advantage: LSU
LSU likes to say Death Valley is where dreams come to die, and a rowdy crowd will greet Alabama for this nighttime game in Baton Rouge. The Tigers are hyped to end UA’s seven-game winning streak in the series and feel like this is their best chance to do it.

PREDICTION
Alabama 34, LSU 17
Don’t expect this one to be over by halftime. Alabama is facing the best defense and best overall team it has seen this season and will have to work for what it gets. Ultimately, the Crimson Tide has more weapons and big-play ability and will overcome the environment to win.

STAFF PICKS

Joey Chandler
Alabama 31, LSU 17
Alabama faces its toughest test yet. Yes, Bama will leave Death Valley with a win, but they’ll have to plow through LSU’s defense to do it.

Cecil Hurt
Alabama 38, LSU 18
Alabama will score five touchdowns. LSU will kick six field goals. James Carville will have seven angry tweets about the Saban/Sankey conspiracy.

Ben Jones
Alabama 31, LSU 18
The focus has been on Tua Tagovailoa and the passing game all season, but don’t be surprised if Alabama runs it early and often to take advantage of Devin White’s absence. The Tigers’ defense is strong but not enough to keep Alabama out of the end zone.

Sa’Riah Ponder
Alabama 34, LSU 10
LSU’s momentum will come from a raucous home crowd. But depth is a problem for the Tigers.

Michael Southern
Alabama 38, LSU 20
LSU will bring emotion and physicality with the intention of dragging Alabama into a street fight. Normally the Crimson Tide would respond in kind but this year’s version will turn the game into a track meet.

Ben Stansell
Alabama 35, LSU 17
A rowdy LSU crowd may propel the Tigers to a quick start, but Alabama will pull away in the second half. The Crimson Tide’s biggest test will end up being just another quiz, even though Tagovailoa will throw his first pick.

Edwin Stanton
Alabama 35, LSU 13
After eight games we might actually find out how Alabama responds to adversity. If LSU gets on top and carries the momentum into the second half the Crimson Tide might get flustered. As long as Tua Tagovailoa is under center that won’t happen.

Terrin Waack
Alabama 27, LSU 17
This matchup isn’t really known to blow up the scoreboard. Alabama has hit 30 points three times since Nick Saban took over in 2007. LSU has once. Those numbers are going to remain the same. Prepare for a defensive battle.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

By Ben Stansell

ALABAMA

Deonte Brown, R-Soph./OL, 6-4/344
Key Stat: Made first career start against Tennessee
Buzz: Brown replaced Lester Cotton at starting guard in Alabama’s last game. The massive offensive lineman received positive reviews for his performance. If he gets another start against LSU, he’ll be facing the most physically dominant defensive front seven Alabama has played this season. Brown will need another well-rounded performance for the Crimson Tide to post a high point total.

Tua Tagovailoa, Soph./QB, 6-1/218
Key Stat: Has thrown an SEC-best 25 touchdowns
Buzz: Currently one of the leading candidates for Heisman Trophy, Tagovailoa has exceeded preseason hype. Not only is he on pace to break the Alabama single-season passing touchdown record, he’s completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 2,066 yards, all while not throwing an interception. Tagovailoa will face his biggest challenge Saturday against a stingy LSU defense in a hostile environment.

Dylan Moses, Soph./LB, 6-3/233
Key Stat: Second on the team with 42 total tackles
Buzz: When Mack Wilson was asked which Crimson Tide player from Louisiana was most excited about returning to his home state, he said “Dylan. He’s ready to smash somebody.” Born and raised in Baton Rouge, this game is personal for Moses. He’s had a strong sophomore campaign, posting 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble.

 

LSU

Grant Delpit, Soph./Safety, 6-3/203
Key Stat: Leads the SEC with five interceptions
Buzz: Delpit doesn’t garner the amount of attention as teammate Greedy Williams, but he’s been invaluable to the Tigers’ secondary. More than just a ball-hawking defensive back, Delpit has the ability to make plays at and behind the line of scrimmage. He is second on the team in tackles (54) and is tied for the lead in sacks (4).

Joe Burrow, Jr./QB, 6-4/216
Key Stat: LSU’s third leading rusher with 250 yards
Buzz: Even though his stats may not jump off the page, Burrow has been a key cog in LSU’s revamped offensive attack. He’s completed 53.81 percent of his passes for 1,544 yards and six touchdowns while throwing three interceptions. LSU is averaging over three more points a game this season (30.4) with Burrow at the helm.

Nick Brossette, Sr./RB, 6-0/221
Key Stat: SEC-leading 10 rushing touchdowns
Buzz: LSU came into the season needing to fill the hole left by Derrius Guice. Brossette has done just that, rushing for 697 yards on 151 carries. He’s also caught seven passes for 64 yards. LSU will need its offensive line to open running lanes against a physical Alabama front for Brossette to have success.

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