With one day left until we can finally put all this hype and hoopla behind us, we’ve dissected nearly every single part of this upcoming game possible without it even being played yet. With all that information, detailed analyses, and only slightly outlandish opinions, we “professionals” at Roll Bama Roll are now each giving our score predictions for tomorrow’s game.
Does it matter? Not in the slightest. However, there are some bragging rights to be had (or lost). The best guesser of the group gets to officially be known as our best writer, heedless of the fact that I’m basing writing talent evaluation on the bounces of an oblong sphere.
Something something Chaos Theory. Something something Jeff Goldblum.
Anyway, here’s your picks, and a few of us even gave the methodology behind our madness of picking games:
Alabama LSU predictions
And here are the reasons given by our more bloviating members:
Roger: Alabama 45-27. Big days from Tua, Jeudy, and Najee. Two picks for the D, a pick six for T Diggs. Three sacks for T Sizzle RTR. Believe in the process
Our basketball/baseball aficionado awakes from his offseason slumber to speak about football. I’d listen, if I were you
Balloons: 9-6, Alabama. Game ball goes to Joseph Bulovas.*
Balloons is a cruel, cruel man. And I love it.
DrWho: 41-30. LSU is able to move the ball, but the defense stiffens up a handful of times in the red zone
I mean, he does watch a LOT of film. Who are we to argue?
Josh: This is definitely as close as this matchup has been in years, and like the matchups from earlier in the decade they are very similar in style. People will sell this as a battle between Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, and there will certainly be points on both sides, but the difference will likely be who can create the most havoc on defense. Alabama already had the better offensive line and defense before Michael Divinity left the team for LSU.
Four players will be the difference: Terrell Lewis, Anfernee Jennings, Shyheim Carter, and Xavier McKinney. The first two will be able to get more done against LSU’s tackles than LSU’s edge rushers will against Alex Leatherwood and Jedrick Wills. The latter pair will better defend the slots than their LSU counterparts in dime. The Tide will ride the wave early, jump out to a 14-0 lead and then a nerve wracking back-and-forth affair will break out until the final whistle.
Alabama 41, LSU 31
The editor in chief has spoken. And I have to agree, Carter and X might have the toughest tasks on the entire team, as LSU tries to get all their receivers isolated in the slot on crossing routes.
Erik: Despite having an offense that resembles a functional one born in the 21st century, this game was always going to be a mismatch for the Tigers. The offensive line is still suspect against the pass rush — bad news against Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings. The wide receivers, though talented, rely on mistackles turning short gainers into explosive plays — too bad the Tide is 7th in the country in tackling (93% tackle rate) and 14th in yards-per-play. The LSU running game is decent. But, for the first time in over a decade, isn’t even hitting 5.0 yards per carry. While Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been serviceable, he’s not the special kind of back you expect from LSU.
And all of this was before cheapshot-artist and playing-out-of-position Grant Delpit went down with a high ankle sprain. All this was before OL Dare Rosenthal got scratched this week, who in turn was starting for Saahdiq Charles throughout the year — who may or may not be out as well. All this was before the Tigers’ best pass rusher, Michael Divinity, decided he loved the sweet leaf more than the field turf.
And, all of this was before the Tigers started jawing, disrespecting a team that owns them; one that not only beats them, but has tended to mollywhollop Ed O’s teams.
This will be a more competitive game, given the relative weaknesses in the two squads. But, close? Nah. Alabama runs the streak to nine in a row with a two-touchdown home victory...and it may be much worse unless the Tigers have found some defensive voodoo laying aroung somewhere. You don’t like those chances, and this ain’t Texas. 37-23 Crimson Tide.
And when Erik himself is optimistic by a full two scores, you know Alabama has a good shot.
Finally, here’s my thoughts:
LSU has averaged a shade under 12 drives per game, and Alabama has been at 12.6 drives per game. I took an average of the two, and am going to assume, if both offenses keep their usual pace, both teams get 12 possessions. Here was my official guess earlier this week on LSU’s offense, which was based strongly off of success rate, explosive rate, redzone efficiency, and havoc stats for both teams:
So, score-wise, what does that look like? Joe Burrow and his crew of receivers are going to rack up yards. Justin Jefferson is going to convert so many 3rd downs on 10 yard drag routes with a smaller Shyheim Carter training just behind him it is going to make us sick. And don’t be surprised to see them manage to scheme ways to get either Anfernee Jennings or Terrell Lewis in coverage against a wide receiver or dynamic tight end, Thaddeus Moss, for a big play just when we don’t want it most.
The LSU run game will move the chains a few times, but, let’s face it, it’s going to be on the afterburners. This is going to be all about Joe Burrow’s arm. Jennings and Lewis have the advantage over the LSU tackles, and I think it’s fair to expect 3-4 sacks with the sheer number of times the Tigers will drop back to throw, and you can assume that by itself ends two drives. I also think that one of either Trevon Diggs or Pat Surtain II will get an interception down the sidelines on an ill-advised deep fade as the Tigers get impatient with so many incremental gains.
So lets call it five out of 12 total drives for LSU ends with a punt or turnover. Of the remaining seven, three go for touchdowns, and the other four are field goal attempts, with one miss. Final score is 30 points.
So, the numbers, with a touch of intuition, gives the Tigers 30 points. Can they keep Alabama below 30? The Tide gets 12 drives. LSU won’t be giving up huge runs, but Najee Harris and Brian Robinson will continue to be efficient runners up the middle, keeping Alabama from having to punt from bad field position very often. Meanwhile, Alabama’s passing offense, based on success and explosive rates, is a couple of tiers above the LSU defense.
Based off of that, I would predict at least a 42-point outing from the Tide offense. One turnover, four punts, a missed field goal, and six touchdowns. But, and there’s always a but in the crowd, there’s that whole “Tua-Tagovailoa’s-golden-ankle” thing.
I have a huge fear that we see the Tua that we saw in the SEC Championship against Georgia. Dave Aranda sees his lack of mobility, and sends a plethora of zone blitzes that a healthy Tua sidesteps and punishes, but a limpy Tua goes down for four sacks and a pick in the first half while the Tigers jump out to a 20-7 lead.
Tua tries to go in half #2, but is replaced by Mac Jones after one drive. The Alabama defense plays better than they have all night to slow LSU down, and we end up down 24-27 with a few minutes left in the game due to a couple of huge catch and runs from Jaylen Waddle and Jerry Jeudy. Jones and the receivers get the ball back after a heroic defensive stop and cross midfield, but eventually turn it over on downs just outside of field goal “range” and the game ends.
Sorry guys. Flag me. But I think Tua’s ankle injury gets worse as the game goes on and proves to be the difference in what should be an Alabama win, but isn’t.
And hey, I’ll gladly be the only wrong person on the entire RBR staff.
Overall, though, Alabama still wins if we average it out. Putting all of our predictions together, Alabama wins this game by a final score of 33-21, which means Alabama obliterates the spread in a much more defensive battle than most expect.
And, in my experience, expected high-profile shootouts tend to turn into defensive struggles in the face of all logic more often than not. Let’s hope that’s how things go.