The biggest game of the college football season to date takes place on Saturday in Death Valley when the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide travels to play No. 4 LSU. It is a mouthwatering game for neutrals and the fans of the two schools involved.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Make Joe Burrow win the game
Burrow – the LSU quarterback – is in for his toughest college game yet as he takes on Alabama. Through eight weeks this year it has been the Crimson Tide’s offense that has stolen the show, whereas on Saturday it will be the defense that has to play lights out and give the offense a platform to build on.
Burrow has been capable in 2018, but it would be a stretch to call him much more than that. He has passed for an impressive 1,544 yards on the season, yet somehow he has only connected in six touchdown passes. He has also been picked off three times.
Alabama can let Burrow have his yards. His 53.8-percent completion percentage will not scare the future NFL players on the Crimson Tide’s defense, and they will get after Burrow forcing him into major mistakes.
Take the crowd out of the game
Saturday night games in Baton Rouge are a thing of beauty when LSU is good. This LSU squad might not be at the level of some over the past decade or so, but they are a gritty, battle hardened bunch that has played in more tough tests this season than Alabama has.
The crowd noise on Saturday is going to be off of the charts. The LSU faithful know that they are going to have to be at their loudest and most disruptive to help their team upset the biggest powerhouse in college football today. Expect the noise when LSU is on defense to be deafening, unless ‘Bama can take the crowd out of it early.
The longer this contest goes with the scores close, or with LSU ahead, the harder it is going to be. If Alabama can score a couple of touchdowns early, ideally with some defense three and outs also in the mix, then the crowd noise will become less of a factor.
Tua must be Tua
The one thing we haven’t yet seen this season is a team getting into the head of Tua Tagovailoa. The Alabama quarterback has been imperious through eight games, basically playing college football like he is balling out in his backyard. He is calm, poises, and seemingly unflappable, and he has to stay that way against LSU.
The Alabama offensive line has been immense in 2018, but they have yet to face a defensive front seven like that of the Tigers. This is a team that can bring pressure and get Tagovailoa out of the pocket, where his decision making has to be spot on to avoid making costly mistakes.
If Tagovailoa is off early, especially if he throws an interception, then he has to show the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity and lead Alabama to a win.