When Alabama hosted LSU in Tuscaloosa a year ago, it was an in-the-trenches slugfest with the Tigers coming out on top 9-6 in overtime. The teams were so obviously the best in the nation that it was just they were pitted again in the BCS National Championship Game axt the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, a game won by the Crimson Tide, 21-0.
In the past year, in two football games, there has been a grand total of one touchdown scored, that by Bama’s Trent Richardson in the fourth quarter of the BCS game. Not a lot has changed.
Alabama finished last season ranked first in the nation in virtually every major defensive catcgory. At the two-thirds mark of this season, Bama again is first in the nation in rushing defense, passing defense, total defense (naturally), and scoring defense.
Of these, the most important is scoring. Alabama is giving up 8.1 points per game. Not far behind, third in the Southeastern Conference, is LSU, allowing 14.6 points per game.
Alabama is second in the conference in scoring, 40.8 points per game. LSU is eighth at 31 points per game.
Both teams believe in a strong running game, and it shows up statistically. Bama is second in the league, running for 214.4 yards per game. Right behind in third place is LSU at 208.4. In rushing defense, Bama leads allowing 57.2 yards per game, and the Tigers are second, giving up 94.9 yards per game.
Passing is not just an afterthought, but that is not what Alabama and LSU hang their hats on. Alabama is eighth in the league averaging 222 yards per game, but has a league best 69.6 completion percentage, no interceptions, and 19 touchdowns, which ties for second in the SEC. LSU is 12th in the conference in passing offense with 177.4 yards per game with only four interceptions, but only seven touchdowns. Defensively, the Tide gives up only 145.9 yards per game and the Tigers are second in the SEC giving up 148.5 yards per game.
The Crimson Tide is fourth in the league in total offense at 436.4 yards per game, the Tigers eighth, 385.8. In total defense, Bama gives up 203.1 yards per game and LSU is second in the conference allowing 243.4.
Alabama is first in pass efficiency and pass defense efficiency. LSU is 11th in pass efficiency, but second in pass efficiency defense. LSU is third in the conference in sacks with 23 and Alabama is tied for fifth with 20.
LSU is third in the league with 23 sacks and Alabama is tied for fifth with 20. Alabama has given up 17 sacks, sixth in the league, LSU eighth, allowing 18.
Three statistical areas of particular importance to coaches are turnover ratio, third down efficiency, and Red Zone performance.
In takeaways-turnovers, he Tide is second in the nation and first in the SEC at plus 17. Bama has nine fumble recoveries and 14 interceptions for 23 tackeaways and has lost six fumbles. LSU is third in the conference at plus 9 with eight fumble recoveries and 13 interceptions while giving up eight fumbles and four interceptions.
(Alabama has converted its 23 turnovers into 125 points, and Bama opponents have managed to score only three points off the six Tider turnovers.)
On third downs, Alabama is third in the SEC, converting on 43 of 95 opportunities, 45.3 per cent. LSU is 10th in the cagegory, 43-144 for 37.7 per cent. On defense on third downs, Bama is first in the league, failing to stop the opponent all but 20 of 109 chances, 25.7 per cent. LSU is fifth, failing to stop the opponent on 36 of 117 tries, 30.8 per cent.
(Bama opponents have had 95 opportunities to convert a third down and prevent a three-and-out, and have managed only 47 successes, 49.5 per cent. Alabama’s has averaged 5.88 three-and-outs per game.)
In the Red Zone (inside the opponent 20), the Tide is first in the league, scoring 97.1 per cent of the time on 34-35 successes (26 touchdowns, 8-8 field goals). LSU is ninth in the league at 79.4 per cent, 27-34 (16 TDs and 11-14 field goals). On defense in the Red Zone, Alabama is also first, permitting just 8-15 scores (6 touchdowns, 2-4 field goals) and the Tigers are 13th, giving up 16-17 scores (94.1 per cent) on 13 touchdowns and 3-4 field goals.
In the area of discipline, penalties, Alabama is fifth in the league, having been flagged 38 times for an average of 39.5 yards per game, and the Tigers are 12th, 68 penalties for 64.9 yards per game.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron continues to lead in pass efficiency and Dee Milliner is tops in pass defense with two interceptions and 13 break-ups.