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STEPHEN’S REPORT: #4 Alabama vs. #14 LSU Preview

Baton Rouge, La. It’s the home of good food, musical taste, exotic festivities and the Tigers of Louisiana State University. Alabama rested this week, but next Saturday the Crimson Tide will battle LSU inside Tiger Stadium.

LSU Tigers: 7-2, (3-2)

LSU is a much improved team, despite losses to Mississippi State and Auburn. The Tigers defeated Mississippi 10-7 on Oct. 25, 2014, crippling its hopes of getting into the College Football Playoff.

Anthony Jennings isn’t Zach Mettenberger, but offensive coordinator Cam Cameron loves molding raw quarterbacks. Jennings has completed 50.0 percent of his passes for 1,190 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. His interceptions have resulted from poor ball placement and consistent pressure from opposing defenses.

Alabama loves to run the ball, but so does LSU. True freshman Leonard Fournette leads the Tigers’ stable of backs. Fournette has 657 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. He’s averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Terrence Magee weighs in with 418 rushing yards (6.1 yards per carry) and three scores. Kenny Hilliard’s totaled 416 yards and six touchdowns. Darrel Williams has three scores and 152 yards rushing.

Sophomore receiver Travin Dural has emerged as Jennings’s primary target. Dural leads LSU’s receiving corps with 27 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s averaged 75.1 yards receiving per game. True freshman Malachi Dupre is a star in the making. He has 11 receptions for 257 yards and four scores. Trey Quinn has 16 catches for 190 yards. Redshirt freshman John Diarse has nine receptions for 165 yards and a touchdown.

LSU doesn’t have the huge playmakers from recent seasons, but defensive coordinator John Chavis still makes this defense tough with his play calling.

Junior linebacker Kwon Alexander anchors LSU defensively. He’s registered 57 tackles and two forced fumbles. Defensive end Danielle Hunter leads all defensive linemen in tackles (55). He also has 1.5 sacks, three pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Senior defensive end Jermauria Rasco has three sacks (leads team), 42 tackles, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. Rickey Jefferson and Tre’Davious White each have two interceptions.

Alabama Crimson Tide: 7-1, (4-1)

The prodigal son returned to Knoxville, Tenn., two weeks ago. Lane Kiffin was welcomed with lustful boos, but he left a winner. Blake Sims and Amari Cooper established an early connection. Sims ended the contest with 286 passing yards and three total touchdowns. Cooper broke Julio Jones’s record (221 receiving yards—2010 against Tennessee) by having nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns. The Crimson Tide defeated Tennessee 34-20.

Sims’s mobility was an asset against Tennessee. It will be pivotal against LSU. Chavis will have the Tigers rushing four, but don’t be surprised if he includes some blitz packages. Sims has been sacked four times, but he’s recorded 250 yards rushing and five scores.

Sims has exceeded expectations in the passing game. He’s completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 2,034 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Junior running back T.J. Yeldon is 382 yards away from a third 1,000-yard rushing season. He’s totaled 618 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore Derrick Henry has 530 yards rushing and four scores. Tyren Jones has 22 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Amari Cooper is now fifth in the Heisman conversation after his performance against the Volunteers. He is one-yard away from tying Julio Jones’s single-season record (1,133 yards in 2010). Cooper is 19 catches away from tying D.J. Hall’s career receptions record (194). He is 55 yards away from tying Hall’s career yards record (2,923).

Cooper has 71 catches for 1,132 yards and nine touchdowns. Senior receiver DeAndrew White has 23 receptions for 243 yards and a touchdown. T.J. Yeldon has 11 catches for 146 yards and a score. O.J.Howard has six receptions for 150 yards. Christion Jones weighs in with 11 catches for 154 yards. Chris Black has seven receptions for 77 yards. Jalston Fowler has two touchdown catches.

Linebacker Reggie Ragland anchors Alabama on defense. He has 56 tackles (6.5 tackles for loss), 1.5 sacks, three pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. Defensive back Landon Collins leads the secondary with 54 tackles, five pass breakups and two interceptions. Senior linebacker Trey DePriest is third on the team in tackles (41). He also has two pass breakups and a forced fumble. Jonathan Allen and A’Shawn Robinson each have 21 tackles (leads defensive line). Allen has two sacks and a blocked kick. Xzavier Dickson leads Alabama’s defense with 6.5 sacks.

Alabama—LSU Rivalry

Alabama and LSU have met 78 times. The Crimson Tide leads the series 48-25-5. Alabama has won the last three meetings (2012-present). 2011 was the last time LSU defeated Alabama. Bryant-Denny Stadium was the venue and the Tigers won 9-6 in overtime.

This rivalry has had its epic moments. Julio Jones caught a 73-yard screen pass from Greg McElroy for a touchdown in 2009. Alabama defeated LSU 24-15.  The Crimson Tide battered LSU’s offense in the 2012 national title game. The Tigers totaled 92 yards and crossed the 50-yard line once. Alabama beat LSU 21-0. AJ McCarron had his worst game statically against LSU in 2012, but it didn’t matter. A 28-yard screen pass from McCarron to Yeldon made all the difference. Alabama defeated the Tigers in Baton Rouge 21-17.

LSU was rudely introduced to “sweet feet” in the 90s. Shaun Alexander exploded onto the scene as a freshman in 1996. He recorded 291 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries against the Tigers. Alabama won 26-0. Alexander won three out of four meetings against LSU as a member of the Crimson Tide.

Course to Atlanta/College Football Playoff

Auburn’s victory over Ole Miss has given Alabama complete control of its destiny. The road to a Southeastern Conference title goes through Tuscaloosa if the Crimson Tide wins out. A victory inside Neyland Stadium was a turning point, but a win at Tiger Stadium would be a statement. CBS will air the matchup at 7:00 p.m. Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban is taking it one game at a time. The Crimson Tide will be without freshman left tackle Cameron Robinson this week. Robinson suffered a high ankle sprain against Tennessee.

Alabama vs. LSU 2014 stats
LSU’s offense Alabama’s defense LSU’s defense Alabama’s offense
32.8 points 14.0 points 15.9 points 36.5 points
225.7 rush yards 77.6 rush yards 159.7 rush yards 218.6 rush yards
22 rushing TDs 2 rushing TDs 10 rushing TDs 19 rushing TDs
1886.6 pass yards 199.1 pass yards 158.4 pass yards 290.2 pass yards
14 passing TDs 8 passing TDs 6 passing TDs 18 passing TDs
414.2 total yards 276.8 total yards 318.1 total yards 508.9 total yards
38% 3rd down 35% 3rd down 29% 3rd down 56% 3rd down
11/09/2013 LSU vs Alabama Football Highlights
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