The Game of the Year kicks off in Tuscaloosa at Bryant-Denny Stadium between the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the nation on Saturday afternoon. If you’re following the AP poll, then No. 1 against No. 2. The Alabama Crimson Tide welcome the LSU Tigers for the most anticipated game of the season. As soon as we saw Joe Burrow dicing up defenses and that this LSU team was legit, the focus began to shift to LSU and Alabama on November 9th.
Both teams are undefeated going into Saturday and we have two frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy dueling it out for the top spot in the nation in this one. Perhaps the most important part of this game is the number of NFL scouts, who are going to have their eyes on this contest. NFL money is on the line here for Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. There has been plenty of debate between Burrow and Tua as a better fit for the next level.
Burrow will undoubtedly turn some heads if he puts on a show against the Alabama defense in this spot. His draft stock will instantly go up on the vast majority of draft boards. Burrow could be No. 1 on a lot of boards already, but torching the Crimson Tide secondary could solidify his standing at the top. That said, Tua is the first guy off the board in plenty of mock drafts. Justin Herbert has slipped back, but is another guy who is likely going to be gone in the first-round.
In other words, there is a lot up for grabs in this matchup, and it just isn’t what happens in the college football landscape. The NFL Draft in Las Vegas could be shaped by what happens here. Tua will not be heading into Saturday at 100% after having ankle surgery just a few weeks ago on October 20th. If you recall, he was bothered by a high-ankle sprain leading up to the Orange Bowl last season. Tua came up limping against Tennessee and suffered another sprain to his ankle. This team it led to an operating table, but he’s been able to make a speedy recovery in time for LSU.
His ankle may or may not bother him in this game, though it’s hard to see it holding up if he takes a hit the wrong way or twists it in the wrong direction. Also note that Nick Saban has not officially made a call on Tua playing or not, though he is more than likely going to get the green light. The Crimson Tide have also been dealing with injuries on the defensive side of the ball this season.
They lost All-American Dylan Moses in preseason camp and Joshua McMillon was lost then, too. Freshmen have had to fill in at linebacker, and while they obviously haven’t paid for the loss of Moses and McMillon, it could come into play against better competition. On the other hand, LSU have been relatively injury free in 2019. Safety Todd Harris is the only notable Tiger that has been out for them. We’ll see if they can use their health to their advantage on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. Head below for our free LSU vs. Alabama pick on Saturday afternoon.
LSU Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide NCAAF Week 11 Betting Odds:
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LSU vs. Alabama Pick:
Joe Burrow was mentioned as a dark horse Heisman candidate in the summer. I looked at his odds and thought he may have been worth a stab at what was being offered then. He’s more than a dark horse going into Week 11 of the season. A sharp performance on the road against Alabama and he’s suddenly going to be the clear front-runner for the award. The former Ohio State Buckeye has thrown 30 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on a staggering 78.8% completions. He didn’t fit into Ohio State’s RPO system, but is flourishing at LSU. It’s never an easy decision to transfer away from a contender, though Burrow has clearly made the right choice.
LSU are 4th in the FBS with 535.9 yards per game. Burrow is passing for 377.6 yards per contest, as he’s led this group to 46.8 points a game. This will be their greatest test yet against the Alabama defense. There have been teams this season that have been able to exploit some holes in the Crimson Tide, though. Ole Miss ran right at the freshmen linebackers and took full advantage without Moses and McMillon on the field. The Rebels ultimately rushed for 280 yards on the Crimson Tide defense. They’re the first team to rush for 280 yards or more against Alabama since Texas A&M in 2016.
Alabama have yielded 127.4 yards per game on the ground. That is not typical of a Nick Saban coached team. That has them at 33rd in the country. Anything outside of the top-5 is a bit of a surprise when it comes to Alabama, never mind out of the top-30. And it isn’t like the Crimson Tide have played any elite teams up to this point. Arkansas, New Mexico State, Southern Mississippi, and Tennessee don’t exactly move the meter much. In that Tennessee game, they had to fight to put the Volunteers away, too.
Their offensive line hasn’t blown me away like previous Alabama teams, either. Even in Week 1 against Duke, they were trying to establish a run game to kill clock, but Duke was doing a pretty good job of boggling up the Alabama offensive line. I was waiting for them to hit the home run ball on the ground, though it didn’t come like we’ve been accustomed to in past years. With 168 rushing yards per game, that’s well below average for Alabama. LSU have been solid against the run, with 97.8 yards allowed per game, so don’t be surprised if Tua is forced to make plays on 3rd down often.
He is capable of doing it, especially with his group of electric playmakers at wide receiver. However, I’m not incredibly confident that he is going to be at 100% in this one. If he comes up limping, LSU are at a massive advantage as part of what makes Tua so exciting is his ability to buy time with his legs. We should be in for a good one on Saturday afternoon. All things considered, the points on LSU look too attractive to pass up in this spot.