Game of the Century III: How No. 5 LSU Tigers Can Pull Off Upset Of No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

  on November 02 2012 2:55 PM
Game of the Century III: How No. 5 LSU Tigers Can Pull Off Upset Of No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Last year on Nov. 5, LSU and Alabama squared off in Tuscaloosa ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in a game that was billed as the "Game of the Century."

Thanks to four missed field goals by Alabama, LSU emerged victorious with a 9-6 overtime win in a defensive slugfest for the ages. 

The Tigers ended up winning out, outscoring their final four opponents 177-39 and looking unstoppable in the process—ultimately defeating Georgia to claim the Southeastern Conference title and secure a spot in the national title game.

The Tide won out as well, finishing their season with a 42-14 drubbing of rival Auburn. Thanks to this and Iowa State's upset of then-No. 2 Oklahoma State, Bama earned a rematch with LSU for the national title.

This time, the Tide rolled LSU, allowing the Tiger offense to cross midfield just once in a dominant 21-0 shutout victory, leaving no doubt about which team was the best in the nation.

Fast forward ten months, and Alabama is still on top of the college football world. 

In 2012, the Tide have been simply dominant, their closest game being a 29-point win over Ole Miss on Sept. 29. Most recently, they handed Mississippi State its first loss of the year, snuffing out MSU's upset hopes by scoring the first 38 points in a 38-7 victory.

There is no dispute that Alabama is the top team in the nation at this point in the season.

The Tide have combined the No. 1 scoring defense with the No. 11 scoring offense to garner every single first-place vote in both the AP poll and USA Today coaches poll. 

However, Alabama hasn't been challenged yet this season in the way it will be challenged by LSU on Saturday.

Its season-opening win over Michigan lost its luster, as the then-No. 8 Wolverines have slid out of the Top 25 at 5-3 overall. Bama's Week 3 matchup with Arkansas was supposed to have serious SEC West (if not national title) implications, but the reeling Hogs have stumbled to a 3-5 record.

Alabama's marquee win to this point came last week over Mississippi State—a team without a win over a ranked opponent.

LSU, on the other hand, has been seriously tested on numerous occasions this year. The Bayou Bengals have faced ranked opponents in each of the last three weeks, allowing just 18 points per contest in those three games.

They will have to lean on their stingy defense yet again in order to top the Tide. 

Aside from keeping Alabama out of the end zone, here are the Tigers' three keys for upsetting their rival this weekend:

1. Win the field position game.

LSU will have to perform extremely well on all three sides of the ball to win this game. Punter Brad Wing may be the single most important player for the Tigers, as he will be in charge of keeping LSU ahead in field position. If he can consistently force Alabama to drive a long field to score, LSU will be much better off. Offensively, the Tigers must gain positive yardage and convert first downs to help reverse the field. Neither team expects to post numerous lengthy scoring drives, so setting up a short field will be key.

2. Win the turnover battle.

Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron hasn't thrown an interception yet this season—something LSU will look to change this weekend. The Tigers are currently No. 8 in the nation with 13 picks on the year and have a positive-10 turnover margin in their seven wins. In their only loss to Florida, they lost the turnover battle by coughing it up three times. Turnovers also nearly killed LSU in close wins over Auburn and Towson. In this game, the margin for error will be none, so LSU can't afford careless turnovers or its chances for an upset will go out the window.

3. Keep the crowd in the game.

LSU has to start fast in this game. At night in Death Valley against hated rival Bama, there should be plenty of crowd energy for the Tigers to feed off of, which is something they'll need throughout the game. If Alabama jumps ahead with a few scores early, it could deflate the crowd and the situation could grow very ugly, very quickly for LSU. However, if the Tigers are able to go ahead early and stay ahead, it will be almost impossible for Bama to communicate on the field, which will play right back into LSU's strategy of halting the Tide offensive attack and controlling field position.