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Jumbo Package: Alabama is in for a season-deciding game vs LSU

Slowing down Jayden Daniels in the run game will be key. Can Alabama’s linebackers do it?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Alabama at USF Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Tigers have averaged 552 yards of offense this season while scoring 47 points per game. Some of those numbers are inflated by dropping 72 and 62 points on Grambling and Army respectively, but even in SEC games the Bayou Bengals have been extremely dangerous.

“It doesn’t matter, when you play in games like this, to me the most important thing is, the other team’s going to make some plays, we’re going to make some plays, but we have to respond to the next play. No matter what happened on the last play, we made a good play, we’ve got to respond to the next play. If we gave up a play we’ve got to respond to the next play,” said Saban. “That’s on offense, that’s on defense. Going back to Jalen that’s important for him too, because we’re not going to have success on every play that we run on offense. But how you respond to those things sort of help you sort of stack some positives and not get frustrated, don’t get down on yourself, just keep on focusing on the next play. What’s happening now. This next play is the most important thing and do that one play at a time for 60 minutes in the game. That’s what everybody’s got to do.”

LSU will have some great offensive plays. Jayden Daniels will break free for some big runs. No matter how good Alabama’s defense, that will just happen. To win this game, though, they’ll need to focus on not finding themselves overcommitting - defensive backs can’t leave their receivers to go chase the QB, because Daniels will just throw it.

If the defensive linemen are worrying about the backside QB keeper, they might give up a huge run up the middle by a RB.

Essentially, Saban is saying that everyone has to stick to their job, and not let previous plays influence that.

“It’s now seen some sharp action on LSU, to where we’re down to Alabama minus-3, so the sharps like LSU in this spot,” Feazel said. “We expect a very competitive game. As we get closer to game time, it could drift. I have a hard time believing it will go underneath than key number of three (points), but my guess is it will probably land at 3.5. I think that’s where it settles.”

Then, of course, it will be settled on the field (6:45 p.m. CT, CBS).

But the money going back and forth across sportsbook counters will be massive. Feazel said Alabama-LSU will draw more betting action than any college game in the country this week, with a total handle as high as just about any matchup all season. Feazel believes LSU’s prolific offense, which ranks No. 1 in all of college football at 553 yards per game, is a major driver of betting dollars on the Tigers.

“People like to bet offenses. People like to see points scored, and Jayden Daniels has been unbelievable this year,” Feazel added. “The past four games, they’ve scored over 45 points each time, and there are still question marks on that Alabama offense, but the defense looks as good as it can be.”

Feazel’s pick? Take Alabama.

Mine? Stay away

Honestly, I’m a little surprised Alabama is favored in this game. I know the homefield advantage plays a part here... But this one really feels like Alabama is truly the underdog going in, and it seems most of the public betting has been pushing that way as well.

In the Southeastern Conference, there are officiating crews who stay together with the idea that working in concert leads to best results.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban is known to attend to every detail.

That includes a scouting report on every SEC crew.

“We let the players know that these guys call holding, these guys call a lot of pass interference,” he said Wednesday following Crimson Tide practice in preparation for Saturday’s game against LSU in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

“Whatever they call,” he said. “The referee really protects the quarterback.”

He explained, “It’s historical background. It’s not a criticism. It’s just a little bit of knowledge of what the history is, and I guess that’s all a scouting report really is, a history.”

Contrast Saban here to the number of coaches over the years to have gone on to throw a mini-tantrum about the refs being unfair after losing to Alabama.

Fans can, sure. I’ll forever contend that Clemson won on a blatantly illegal pick play. And I’ll always bring up the back to back years that Alabama was dead last in opponent penalties per game, the two full seasons without an opposing holding call, and especially that time the random Michigan fan found that Alabama was barely on the same chart as the rest of college football with how rare it was for their opponents to be called for holding.

But Saban? No, he just talks about how hard of a job the refs have, and then goes and makes scouting reports on every single ref to try and play to their tendencies.

“It’s hard to be that deep on your team to be able to simulate. It’s one of the reasons we go good-on-good some in practice, so now the good guys are playing against the good guys. So hopefully you got somebody playing Star that is explosive, whether it’s Caleb Downs or Malachi (Moore) or whoever is really fast or quicker and can be challenging. And our players need to understand and respect why we go good on good. It’s to help each other get better.

“Because if you’re going to play against a good player on Saturday, you get a chance to play against a good player in practice, challenge yourself to do things the right way. It helps you get better. But we don’t have somebody here on scout team that can simulate what No. 4 does because the guy’s a phenomenal player.”

I’ll be interested to see how Brian Kelly uses Harold Perkins in this game. After a stellar year 1 as an edge rusher, Perkins has been asked to do a lot more things this year. Some LSU fans haven’t been happy about it, and there’s been rumblings for weeks that he’s going to get back to playing more edge.

Is this the game that LSU wants him to do nothing but pin his ears back and get after the QB? Or would they rather use him as a spy on Milroe?

Finally, she has the right idea: