Dig Baton Rouge

Sports Troll: LSU Bama set to renew rivalry

LSU coach Ed Orgeron said being a 21.5-point underdog “means nothing.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban called LSU’s loss against Troy the “worst thing that happened to the SEC,” because it awoke a sleeping giant.

Las Vegas doesn’t give the Tigers a snowball’s chance in you know where.

Fans around the country don’t see much of a path to victory for LSU, either.

But a wise man once said that we’ll never know until we play the game.

The Crimson Tide are huge favorites over LSU tonight in Tuscaloosa, but coaches on both sides said they expect a four-quarter battle between the longstanding rivals.

“This is going to be a hard game,” Saban said. “This is always a physical, tough, 60-minute close game. Very few of these games get decided until the fourth quarter.”

Alabama is Alabama – the gold standard of college football.

LSU was once on that level and is now trying to get back under Orgeron, who is in his first full season as the Tigers’ head coach.

The teams started the season polar opposites – with Alabama dominating and LSU struggling, including a 30-point loss at Mississippi State and a home loss against Troy.

But since then, the Tigers have sailed the ship into calmer waters, including three-straight victories over Florida, Auburn and Ole Miss.

But Alabama is better than all of those teams and this will be Orgeron’s biggest challenge yet.

He said against Alabama, there’s always a desire to create added pressure throughout the practice week. But this week, the Tigers operated like it was “any other week.”

“The game is not won on Tuesday or Wednesday,” Orgeron said. “It’s won on Saturday night.”

LSU OFFENSE VS ALABAMA DEFENSE

Advantage: Alabama

Are you kidding me? Alabama is one of the best defenses in the country – an honor they enjoy every, single season. LSU is evolving offensively, but they’re still very much a work in progress under first-year coordinator Matt Canada. The Tigers can score a few points in this game if they get a few breaks. But they won’t gash Alabama’s defense – not by a long shot. This is the easiest call of the week – advantage Alabama.

LSU defense vs. Alabama offense

Advantage: LSU

OK, so we will go out on a limb on this one. I am going to bet on Dave Aranda and the LSU defense out of a bye week. Alabama scores points, but they’re awfully one-dimensional offensively. If you can force them into some third down and long situations, Jalen Hurts won’t beat you from the pocket. I trust that with some extra time to prepare, the LSU defense is going to be ready to play. I think they’re going to force a turnover or two, too, which will help them keep the score close for a while.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Advantage: Alabama

That’s the problem with the Crimson Tide. They’re so damned good at everything. They kick and punt well and their coverage and return teams are all sound. LSU has gotten much better in the past few weeks, but they’re still not at the elite level of Alabama – at least not yet.

DIG’s PICK

Alabama 31, LSU 17

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