Skip to main content
Original Issue

Armed, Not That Dangerous

Why will Alabama beat LSU? Because, once again, the Tide will keep the Tigers from throwing the football

This weekend's must-weld-oneself-to-the-Barcalounger game, Saturday night's showdown between top-ranked Alabama and No. 5 LSU, is the third matchup of the SEC powerhouses in the past 12 months. In the first two, LSU threw for an average of 72 yards and scored just three field goals. Don't be surprised if that trend of aerial ineptitude continues.

Ed Feng, who has a Ph.D. in engineering from Stanford and runs ThePowerRank.com, adjusted each team's yards-per-play data for strength of schedule and then graphed their positions relative to the rest of the Bowl Subdivision (charts, right). The results are clear: While LSU's D is marginally better than Alabama's offense, the Tide's defense should stifle the Bayou Bengals' attack, especially their passing game. Against an average FBS team, the Crimson Tide will allow a mere 4.52 yards per opponent's attempt, the second-best number in the country, while LSU will gain just 6.17 yards, slightly worse than average. (Traditional stats are equally ominous: The last time 'Bama gave up a passing touchdown when the outcome of the game was still in doubt was last Nov. 19.)

What's it all mean? According to Feng's model, 'Bama will come away a 14-point winner, with LSU having just a 22% chance of pulling the upset.

WHEN ALABAMA HAS THE BALL

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

PASSING

Tide offense

AVG.: 6.23 YDS/PLAY

7.72

Tigers defense

4.05

RUSHING

Tide offense

AVG.: 4.74 YDS/PLAY

6.19

Tigers defense

3.24

WHEN LSU HAS THE BALL

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

PASSING

Tigers offense

AVG.: 6.23 YDS/PLAY

6.17

Tide defense

4.52

RUSHING

Tigers offense

AVG.: 4.74 YDS/PLAY

5.59

Tide defense

2.63

Heisman Tracker

A steady performance in a win over Texas Tech keeps Collin Klein in front, but Braxton Miller made a statement by eclipsing 130 yards on the ground and in the air. And a hearty welcome to the Tracker to Manti Te'o, Notre Dame's big-play linebacker.

SEPT. 1

SEPT. 8

SEPT. 15

SEPT. 22

SEPT. 29

OCT. 6

OCT. 13

OCT. 20

OCT. 27

NOV. 3

MATT BARKLEY, QB, USC

316 TOTAL YDS, 4 TDS

GENO SMITH, QB, WVU

493 YDS IN LOSS

COLLIN KLEIN, QB, K-STATE

277 TOTAL YDS, 3 TDS

DE'ANTHONY THOMAS, RB, ORE

BYE WEEK

AARON MURRAY, QB, GA

97 YDS, 19.4 AVG

BRAXTON MILLER, QB, OHIO STATE

11 TACKLES, 1 INT

MANTI TE'O, LB, NOTRE DAME

150 YDS, 3 INT

PHOTO

MARVIN GENTRY/US PRESSWIRE (ALABAMA)

PASS FAIL Mississippi State's Tyler Russell was the latest QB to feel the wrath of 'Bama's air defense in last Saturday's 38--7 loss to the Crimson Tide.

PHOTO

JAMIE SABAU (MILLER)

TWO CHARTS