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Three Things to Look For -- LSU versus Alabama Prediction

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We know what's at stake, let's get into the good stuff.

Here are three things too look out for...

2) Julio Jones versus Patrick Peterson, Round Three

This is actually Part II from my column earlier this week about the matchup.

Jones and Peterson have different seasons this year. Peterson started off with a bang as he dazzled many with his abilities to return punts. But these last couple of games have been tough for Peterson, as he has struggled tackling in the open field against Auburn and Tennessee.

Jones has been solid throughout the season, but hasn't had a game until his last against Tennessee that would really stand him out from other receivers. Against the Vols, Jones caught 12 passess for 221 yards.

I think the two will cancel each other out. Jones will make some catches on Peterson but none for big yardage. Peterson is going to jam him early so he knock him off his stride and get him off rhythm. Expect Alabama to run Jones on some short patterns and use his size as his advantage.

I asked Miles about the matchup, and he said he is going to use more than one cornerback against Jones. LSU fans remember what happened when Peterson was off Jones against Alabama last year.

Morris Claiborne has had a fine year. He has four interceptions and has played a nice counterpart to Peterson. Claiborne told me he looks up to Peterson everyday in practice, trying to get better as a complete cover corner.

The problem Claiborne and other LSU corners such as Tyrann Mathieu and Ron Brooks is their size. All three tackle well, but dragging Jones down is different than just tackling in the open field. Peterson has proven he can bring Jones down consistently after he catches the football.

2) Can the LSU defense get off blocks and make plays?

Kelvin Sheppard is a Heck of a linebacker. But like every other head hunter in football, he is average when he has to take on offensive lineman when they get to the second level.

People wonder why Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens has been so good for so long. A big, unmentioned portion of his success in his illustrious career has come because he has had great defensive lineman in front of him.

First instinct for many of you is “Well LSU has Drake Nevis, he isn’t any good?” Drake isn’t good, he is great. But he isn’t a space eater who frees linebackers. Or for you Ravens fans out there, he isn't Tony Siragusa, Haloti Ngata or Kelly Gregg. Those are just a few names that have freed up Lewis to make plays.

Pep Levingston is one of those guys for LSU, but his health will be a concern on Saturday. If Nevis can explode through the line before the play develops every time, then so be it. But that's not going to happen, and it could prove costly for the LSU defense.

Here is a package put together by my dear friend and colleague Troy Gaulden. Go to the 1:30 mark of this video to see a prime example of Sheppard getting eaten up by an Alabama block.

Auburn had success with the over-aggressive LSU defensive line has they allowed them to parry up field and leave linebackers with offensive lineman coming up field with Cam Newton running the football.

LSU will be aided by Alabama's conventional pro-style offense. There won't be as many misdirections and need to make open field tackles.

But with Alabama's Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson coming into town, things won't be that much easier. Add to that a fundamentally sound and experienced offensive line in a must-win game, it's going to be tough to hold the Crimson Tide down on the ground.

3) Can Les Miles stay on the field with Nick Saban?

Miles doesn't need to do anything spectacular today. This is going to be a game where both teams lineup and play smash mouth football, and LSU has the talent to win this game playing that way.

But that doesn't mean Miles shouldn't do anything today.

I think Miles needs to pull some tricks out of his bag though. His biggest advantage over Saban has been his success with trick plays. I said jokingly the day after LSU's victory against Florida was that Miles ran the fake field goal just to prove he is better than Saban with fake plays. Saban earlier that day ran a terrible fake on special teams against South Carolina, a game that resulted in his only loss this season.

The LSU offense is terrible. And the Alabama defense isn't spectacular either, but will be ready to go under Saban. Miles might need something to spark this unit, because Stevan Ridley up the middle might be tough to get going.

Maybe some new formations or a new trick or two might help out. It was the only offense that was explosive against Auburn, why not pull one out early to get the crowd out of their seats for the early kickoff.


LSU has been 2-9 since 2008 on CBS. That doesn't spell out good for LSU, especially it being a early kickoff. I like Alabama in this one because I think they are the better football team. But also because the "higher powers that be" want the Crimson Tide to be still alive when they play Auburn in "The Iron Bowl."

Alabama 23 - LSU 16


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