BATON ROUGE (CBSMiami) – Death Valley on a Saturday night in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is where many teams have experienced the magic of LSU football at night. But LSU will have to have all its magic and maybe a little luck to knock off the defending national champion Alabama Saturday.
Beating LSU at night in Death Valley is not for the weak stomached. Just to illustrate the devotion of their fans, in 1988, when LSU beat Auburn the explosion of noise from the crowd was so loud it registered as a small earthquake at the LSU geology department.
LSU has lost just once this season, despite having another average offense. The Tigers win by running the football with an extremely talented stable of running backs and a very aggressive, talent-laden defense.
That probably sounds familiar to Alabama fans. The Crimson Tide likes to run the ball, stop the run, and suffocate opponents with the best defense in the country. So far this season, no one has even come close to giving Alabama a game.
The Tide are surrendering just 8.1 points per game and have given up a total of eight touchdowns on the season. On the ground, Alabama gives up just 57.3 yards per game and opponents are throwing for just 145.9 yards per game, according to cfbstats.com.
Last year’s two game series between LSU and Alabama was a split-decision. The Tigers won in Tuscaloosa during the regular season only to get blown off the field in the National Championship game. LSU didn’t cross the 50-yard line during the championship game.
This year, Alabama has an offense that is putting up points in bunches. The Tide average 40.6 points, rushing for 214.4 yards, and throwing for 222 yards per game. Alabama’s offense has been opportunistic turning turnovers into points almost every time.
Some thought Alabama would be tested last weekend when a then-undefeated Mississippi State team came to Tuscaloosa. The Tide disposed of the Bulldogs without much of an effort, winning 38-7.
But going to play at LSU is quite different than whipping Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi State. Still, if Alabama gets by LSU, there’s no solid challenge ahead of them until the SEC Championship when they likely will play either Georgia or Florida.
Don’t write LSU off though, the Tigers defense only gives up 14.6 points per game and in the only loss of the season, LSU’s biggest problem was the offense in a 14-6 loss to the Florida Gators.
LSU has played a much tougher schedule than Alabama in the past month as well. Including the loss to Florida, the Tigers have played three straight teams ranked in the top 20 (Florida, South Carolina, and Texas A&M).
The Tigers are battled-tested and are tired of hearing Alabama being described as almost a semi-pro team playing against other schools. South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said Alabama could beat some pro teams. While that statements’ laughable, the Tide have been phenomenal all season.
The only question is can they keep it up when the sun goes down, the lights go on, and the magic that is Death Valley kicks into high gear on Saturday.