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Alabama’s keys to victory in SEC West showdown against LSU Tigers

Dallas Turner (#15) in his stance at linebacker for Alabama versus LSU for 2021
Photo by the University of Alabama

Alabama football begins its second half of the regular season Saturday night at Tiger Stadium against Louisiana State University.

After debuting at No. 6 in Tuesday’s College Football Playoff rankings, the Crimson Tide must win the remainder of its schedule to get to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game and CFP. Coach Nick Saban sounded confident in his team during Thursday’s radio show as he is ‘excited’ about what the Tide can do versus the Tigers. Alabama suffered one loss to LSU in Death Valley under Saban in 2010 but is 5-0 against the Tigers on the road since 2012.

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Saban needs three things to go right for the Tide to win, and they are below.

1. Alabama’s defense must frustrate LSU’s QB, Jayden Daniels

Alabama encountered KJ Jefferson (Arkansas) and Hendon Hooker (Tennessee), but now it battles LSU’s quarterback Jayden Daniels. Daniels, a transfer from Arizona State, is quick, elusive, and athletic. He has improved his accuracy and is the Tigers’ leading rusher. The Crimson Tide failed to pressure Hooker, and he torched its secondary for five passing touchdowns in a 52-49 victory for the Volunteers. Alabama’s defensive front has to affect Daniels’ throwing vision and frustrate him in the pocket.

If the Tide can take away LSU’s rushing attack, it has a chance to make Daniels one-dimensional and force mistakes.

He has 21 total touchdowns (nine rushing scores) to one interception this season.

2. Bryce Young and the Tide need to start fast on offense

Alabama’s offense struggled early against Tennessee.

Bill O’Brien and Bryce Young cannot afford several three-and-outs against LSU at Tiger Stadium. The Crimson Tide must mix in the run game but have a balanced attack. Alabama has to start the game by attacking the Tigers’ defense and scoring points.

RELATED: Bryce Young says Alabama is ‘even more locked in’ after loss to Tennessee

If it can take the crowd out of the matchup early, the Tide will begin to impose its will on LSU.

3. Alabama cannot afford costly, uncharacteristic penalties

Penalties have hurt Alabama on offense and defense this year.

It had a school-record 17 penalties in its loss to Tennessee and totaled 10+ penalties in close victories over Texas and Texas A&M.

The Tide has to play disciplined ball against the Tigers. Offensively, it cannot have false starts or delay of game fouls to put it behind the sticks. Defensively, Alabama cannot have personal fouls. Mental errors will keep LSU and its crowd in the matchup.

The Crimson Tide has to create a clean game on the road.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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