(1) Alabama Crimson Tide at (15) LSU Tigers
Alabama– Okay, so you’re probably thinking this: You’re reading this and you think I’m pretty much going to say the same thing about them once again, right? I’m with you because of every week, we say the same thing about them. What can’t this team do? From an offensive standpoint, this is the most potent I’ve ever seen them look. Listen to this offensive line up. Of course, it will all start with Jalen Hurts who I think has earned himself a trip to New York City with his stellar play this year. Nick Saban made a bold move to start him over Blake Barnett and it’s paid off. You limit the play of Hurts and you have to worry about shutting down Damien Harris. As I said a few weeks ago about the running backs, they aren’t Heisman candidates, but they can still get the job done and get yards with that offensive line opening up holes. So as a defense, you take away the run and force them to pass, right? Now you have to worry about the receiving core that consists of star receiver Calvin Ridley who I feel will be a terrific pro, receiver ArDarius Stewart who is a terrific complementary piece to Calvin and the tight end O.J. Howard over the middle and in the red zone. This offense is scary good. The defense is still the talk of the team though and they score just as much as the offense does and they are led by Jonathan Allen and Tim Williams. This defensive front is so explosive and physical at the point of attack. It’s crunch time now for the defending champs. It’s November and the road to the playoffs now begins with a trip to Baton Rouge.
LSU– For years, it seemed as if Les Miles has been on the hot seat and every year they didn’t meet their expectations, we expected him to be fired. This season, LSU finally decided to make the move that we’ve all been expecting and they finally decided to fire the guy who had been there for so long. I’m truly a believer in the saying everything happens for a reason and after the firing of Les, they made Ed Orgeron the head coach and since the move, LSU has looked like a much different football team and has been firing on all cylinders especially on offense. When you talk about the LSU offense, Leonard Fournette is always a guy that will come to mind. The power and athleticism he shows at the running back are amazing and I see some flashes of Adrian Peterson when I see him run because just like Adrian, he doesn’t want to run out of bounds and he has no issues with lowering the shoulder and running somebody over. This LSU offense was as flat as a countertop but now, they are thriving under a new system. Offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has opened up the playbook and not everything falls on the shoulders of Fournette. They also made a change at quarterback and Danny Etling has really played well and elevated the play of receiver Malachi Dupre. They haven’t looked too bad on defense either. Defensive end Devon Godchaux is a star on that defensive front that loves to rush the passer and get after the ball carrier. With all the confidence in the world showing now in their last few games, it’s now time to see who they really are with Alabama coming to town.
Alabama Player To Watch: Jonathan Allen– For those of you who have followed me closely, you know my saying. You better have game if you have two first names. It’s only right and this young man does. He’s a member of a defense that’s featured guys to make several key plays and he’s still stood out. Not only has he elevated his play, he’s improving his draft stock in the process. Some draft experts have even compared him to J.J. Watt because of the athleticism he shows on the edge and in the interior. LSU can’t allow him to get into their backfield and be a disruptive force.
LSU Player To Watch: Arden Key– He’s one of the best passers in the country and he leads the FBS in sacks per game with 1.14. He’s a 6’6, 231-pound guy with excellent speed and what I really enjoying about what he brings to the position is how relentless he is. He may stumble, but that doesn’t keep him from getting to the quarterback and he’ll need to be on his a-game and be “key” in helping contain Jalen Hurts.
Prediction: When these two met last year in Tuscaloosa, Leonard Fournette was shut down and held to a total of 31 yards rushing. Both teams will face tough defenses and for LSU, they’ll need to continue to open up the playbook and I’d test Bama’s secondary which isn’t as strong as it’s been in previous years. This will be the toughest defense that LSU has seen this year. I like the Tide on the road once again. Alabama 29 LSU 21