What can be said about the game that hasn't been said?
LSU (8-0, 5-0 in SEC) is the better team along all the edges. Alabama (8-0, 5-0) is tougher through the middle and across the lines.
LSU cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne have a significant advantage in their matchup with the Crimson Tide quarterback A. J. McCarron, who doesn't have the luxury of a Julio Jones at receiver. The Tigers won't have to assign a safety to help them in coverage because those guys will be focused on the action in the box to stop Tide running back Trent Richardson, maybe the best running back in the country.
That's make it more difficult on the Tide to gain the yards necessary on first down to stay out of down-and-distance situations, and allow the Tigers to turn up the heat.
The Tigers, on the other hand, have Rueben Randle, who can stretch the field from wide receiver, and the mischievous personality of coach Les Miles. Those two men will at some point generate a key set of yards that could provide the turning point.
The Tides leads the nation in scoring defense, total defense, rush defense and pass efficiency defense. The Tigers is in the top five in all four categories. Points should be hard to come by in the first half as each teams has allowed only three first-half touchdowns.
One of the story lines of the game could be LSU's passing attack. Jarrett Lee will start and he and backup Jordan Jefferson have combined to go 40-of-57 and eight touchdowns and no interceptions in their last three games.
Richardson is the highest-rate prospect among the running backs and could carry a higher grade in most draft rooms than Mark Ingram did one year ago.
This game is expected to be close and could be determined by field position, which might be determined by kickers, punters and return specialists. Place-kicking appears to be fairly even. LSU's Drew Allerman has made 10 of 13 field goal attempts with a long of 44. Jeremy Shelley does most of Bama's place-kicking, but Cade Foster handles the long attempts. Shelly has made 11 of 13 attempt with a long of 37. Foster has made a 45-yarder, but has missed twice from 53 yards out.
LSU may put Jefferson in the pocket because it may need his broken-fields scrambles. Richardson will get the ball often, but don't be surprised to see him targeted as a receiver. Running is the Tide's strength.
LSU's passing offense ranks 99th in passing offense. Lee isn't an elite passer, but eight of his throws have gone for 40-plus yards. The Tide has three.
The game won't be decided by plays. It will be decided by players making plays.
Believe it or sneer, the visitor in this series is 27-13-1. The home team has taken the last two meetings, but the hosts have never taken three in a row.
About 2/3 of the bets have been on LSU. Bettors have taken advantage of a very rare opportunity, to bet on the No. 1 team in the country and get 4 1/2 points.
Prediction: Take LSU and the 4 1/2 points. Final: LSU 19-17.
Other college picks: SMU -25 1/2 over Tulane; Oklahoma State - 21 over Kansas State; Cincinnati -3 1/2 over Pitt; Arkansas -5 1/2 over South Carolina; Texas Tech +14 over over Texas; Texas A&M' Air Force -17 over Army (best bet); Wake Forest + 13 1/2 over Notre Dame; Oregon State +21 over Stanford. Last week: 7-3.
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by Ed Staton