Offensive revolution reaches final frontier: Alabama-LSU

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) walks off the field leading the Tide to an easy win over Arkansas earlier this season. if Tua Tagovailoa is unable to play, it will be up to Jones to lead Alabama against LSU Saturday. [VASHA HUNT/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS]

When: 2:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Tuscaloosa

TV/Radio: CBS/FM-93.9, AM-920

The line: Alabama by 6

--

Four-down territory

1. What’s the significance of this game? Yes, it has huge playoff implications. If LSU wins, it will be positioned slightly better than Alabama to win the SEC West and play in the conference championship game. After Alabama, the Tigers play at Ole Miss and finish with home games against Arkansas and Texas A&M. Alabama’s road is tougher, with remaining road games at Mississippi State and No. 12 Auburn sandwiched around its breather with Western Carolina. The winner essentially has a two-game lead over the other in the race to Atlanta. Whichever team loses still won’t be out of the CFP playoff race, though, depending on how the game goes.

2. Showcase of quarterbacks? Maybe: LSU’s Joe Burrow is healthy. That’s a fact. Alabama’s Tua Tagavailoa will likely be a game-tie decision, according to coach Nick Saban earlier this week. Expect him to play, and for this to be a different style of Alabama-LSU matchup. Burrow has taken his game to a different level this season in LSU’s new offense. Until he got hurt, Tagovailoa was putting up eye-popping numbers as well. The spotlight will definitely be shining on both Saturday night if Tagovailoa is healthy.

3. Linebacker lost: LSU lost a key part of its defense earlier in the week when starting linebacker Michael Divinity left the team for personal reasons. Divinity, a senior, had 23 tackles in five games for the Tigers. LSU coach Ed Orgeron said backup junior linebackers Andre Anthony and Ray Thornton will see more playing time in Divinity’s absence. Divinity missed three games earlier this season, two for disciplinary reasons and one with an injury. He had five tackles and a sack against Auburn. He started 11 games in 2018 and tied for the team lead with five sacks.

4. Time for Alabama’s running game to shine: If the game is as close as expected, look for Nick Saban to lean heavily on Najee Harris in the fourth quarter in an effort to shorten the game and keep Burrow and company on the sideline. This is the first game in which Alabama will need an effective run game, especially if Tagovailoa isn’t 100 percent.

--

Key Matchup

Alabama offensive line vs. LSU defense

Protecting the quarterback is always important, but when your potential Heisman Trophy quarterback is hobbled, it becomes tantamount to keep him from being hit. Assuming Tagovailoa will play, LSU is going to try to pressure him and hit him every chance it gets. It’s up top the O-line to keep him upright.

--

Player of the week

Terrell Lewis, LB

The linebacker has been an integral part of an Alabama defense that has been improving weekly. Lewis has been getting to the quarterback and he’ll need a big game as Alabama tries to make Joe Burrow as uncomfortable in the pocket as possible.

--

By the numbers

8: Consecutive wins Alabama has in the series against LSU. All time, the Tide leads 53-25-5, including 13-7 in Tuscaloosa.

57: Combined number of touchdown passes thrown by Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa this season. Burrow has thrown 30 TD passes, while Tagovailoa has thrown 27.

48: Number of touchdown catches the top three wide receivers for each team have caught this season. LSU’s trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall have 25 TDs. Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, DaVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs III have 23 TD catches.

--

Prediction

Alabama 31, LSU 21

The winner is in the driver’s seat to get to Atlanta for the SEC championship game and the loser has no room for error the rest of the season if it wants to stay in hunt for the playoffs. A lot depends on the health of Tagovailoa. If he’s healthy and plays, Alabama will win its ninth straight in the series. If not, look for LSU to snap its losing streak. The guess is that Tagovailoa will play and be effective in leading Alabama to a win.

— Gregg Dewalt

DecaturDaily.com
Get Unlimited Access
$3 for 3 Months
Subscribe Now

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.