Members of The Reveille sports staff share their thoughts and score predictions ahead of No. 2 LSU's (8-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) matchup with No. 3 Alabama (8-0, 4-0 SEC).
The End of an Era | Jacob Beck
The time has come. The age-old adage of "if only LSU had an offense, they could beat Bama" is no longer applicable, and the Tigers are fully equipped to take down the Crimson Tide for the first time in eight years.
At this point, the matchups have been talked about ad nauseam, but I think the most important key for LSU will be getting pressure on the quarterback, whether it's Tua Tagovailoa or Mac Jones. The Tigers got picked apart by Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, in due part to their failure to pressure him consistently.
The departure of senior linebacker Michael Divinity cannot be overstated, and LSU will need sophomore linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson to have his best game of the season if they're going to slow down Alabama's potent passing attack. The health of junior safety Grant Delpit has also come into question, and if he's not 100 percent, could prove to be catastrophic for this Tigers defense.
This LSU offense is built to score against anyone, and the Crimson Tide have a severely depleted defense after losing a number of players to the NFL draft and injuries during the preseason. This won't be as high-scoring as most think, but the Tigers will get the job done and put to rest the streak that has haunted them for years.
Score Prediction: LSU 34 Alabama 31
Can LSU actually win? | Brandon Adam
Every year LSU enters this game with unbridled optimism. Maybe it’s because they didn’t want to face reality or were too blind to see the truth.
And of the last few years, going back to 2014 when LSU actually was winning under two minutes, Alabama has stepped on LSU on its path to the SEC Championship, minus 2017 of course.
So what will actually be different?
Well, LSU has an offense and Alabama’s defense isn’t as good as usual. But at the end of the day, it’s still Alabama.
As good as Joe Burrow and LSU’s offense are, Alabama is just as good. Its offense is predicated on quick, short passes to one of its four all-world receivers and letting them run.
And until I actually see LSU beat Alabama instead of losing in spectacular fashion like 2012 and 2014, I’ll be rolling with the Tide.
Prediction: Alabama 35, LSU 31
Defense still wins championships | Not so celebrity guest picker: Kennedi Landry
Both LSU and Alabama have historic offenses this season, led by Heisman-hopeful quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa (or Mac Jones depending on that ankle), but many are completely writing off either defense like they won’t have a chance to stop them.
While neither defense is up to its historic caliber, and Alabama’s is definitely depleted because of injuries, these are not the Bad News Bears. LSU senior cornerback Kristian Fulton even said that it was “crazy” that nobody is giving them a chance to stop Tua and Alabama’s dynamic receiving corps.
LSU still has All-American safety Grant Depit, as well as two uber talented corners in Fulton and Derek Stingely Jr. in the secondary. And the pass rush has been much improved in recent games with K’Lavon Chaisson and Rashard Lawrence getting into a groove following injuries.
And Alabama’s defensive is nothing to look down upon. The Crimson Tide lead the nation in turnover margin at plus 13 and ranks in the top-20 in scoring defense. Defensive back Trevon Diggs is a game-changer in the secondary and the pass rush is one of the best in the nation.
All in all, I believe this game will come down to which defense comes up with a crucial stop or turnover, and I think LSU has the edge there.
Prediction: LSU 38, Alabama 35