The Alabama Crimson Tide welcome the LSU Tigers to Tuscaloosa on Saturday for a good old classic rivalry game. It isn’t quite the Iron Bowl, but it’s Alabama’s next biggest rivalry game on the schedule. Alabama are rolling through their competition, but LSU is the best competition they’ve played since Florida State. That was a Florida State team with a healthy Deondre Francois, much different than the current state of the Seminoles. The Crimson Tide stepped through them for a 24-7 win to open the year. No one has given Alabama a test thus far. They defeated Texas A&M, 27-19, for what was their closest margin of victory in 2017.
Alabama are not number 1 in the country, though, and according to the polls, they aren’t even the best team in the SEC. The pollsters elected to go with Georgia as the best team in the country, but odds makers are thinking not so fast. There are reports indicating that Alabama would be an easy favorite on a neutral field. I can’t argue there, but Georgia have been playing great football. A meeting between them might end like one of the classic LSU-Alabama games, when LSU and Alabama were both ranked in the top-5. The ones of the 9-6 or 21-17 variety. I don’t think it’d get out of hand, Georgia’s defense is first-class.
The question tonight, though, is if LSU can keep this one from getting out of hand. The Tigers enter at 6-2, with losses coming against Troy and Mississippi State. Both were a little surprising, with Mississippi State blowing LSU out with ease, 37-7. And then, even more surprising, Troy defeated LSU by a score of 24-21 in Baton Rouge. Their best win coming against Auburn at home a few weeks ago. LSU and Alabama are coming off byes, giving LSU a little more time to prepare, which they surely need more than Alabama does. Let’s get straight to our LSU vs. Alabama pick below.
LSU Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Betting Odds:
vs. Alabama -21(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
LSU vs. Alabama Pick:
Alabama have been a wrecking ball on offense and defense again in 2017. It’s rinse and repeat in Tuscaloosa in the Nick Saban era. One or two running backs depart, and they reload in the backfield. The same with their entire defense. Guys retire and a new core comes along and makes it look like it’s the same In the running back position, this year it’s Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough’s show in the backfield. Harris has led the way for Alabama, rushing for 697 yards for a whopping 8.6 per carry average. Scarbrough is the bruiser and gives the Tide a powerful punch at running back.
Alabama are 7th in the nation, averaging nearly 300 yards per game on the ground. What makes it most impressive, is the fact that their defense gives them terrific field position all game long. In other words, their offense doesn’t need to go too far to find the end zone. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has been excellent with the ball in his hands as well.
Hurts has passed for 9 touchdowns and 1 interception, including 572 yards rushing and 6 majors on the ground. He doesn’t look like the fastest guy at first, but when he gets running he’s difficult to bring down. He is good at picking up critical yardage, like 3rd downs on his feet. Those kinds of things add up in a big way by the end of the 4th quarter.
LSU are 47th defending the run. Jordan Chunn of Troy ran all over them for nearly 200 yards. If Chunn can inflict that kind of damage against LSU in Baton Rouge, I’m not so certain that the Tigers can slow down Alabama. Running back Derrius Guice has been impressive, with 711 yards and a 5.7 average on the ground.
Quarterback Danny Etling hasn’t done anything wrong either, with 9 touchdowns and an interception. They’re facing an animal in Tucaloosa on Saturday night, though. Bama rank 1st with just 236 yards allowed per game, 66.4 yards against the run and 169.6 against the pass. This game is all Etling’s, because I do not foresee Guice and the running game getting on track. Putting Etlin and 3rd and longs all night is going to signal a disaster. LSU will keep this close in the first-half, before Alabama rips off a big run in the 4th quarter to secure something in the ballpark of a 36-7 win.
PICK: ALABAMA -21 (-110)