Alabama opened as a 14 point favorite against LSU on the road. That is a huge show of faith in the Crimson Tide and everything that Nick Saban’s team has been achieving in 2018. It is hard to argue with the odds makers though, because even though LSU will represent the toughest challenge that Alabama has faced all season, it still feels like the Crimson Tide are a level above anything Ed Orgeron’s side can throw at them. Here are five reasons why Alabama will beat LSU:
By Steve Wright
Tagovailoa has been playing at an exceptional level this season. He has passed for 2,066 yards, 25 touchdowns and zero interceptions, while taking off entire halves of games because Alabama is always so far ahead. If Tagovailoa had been allowed to complete every game he has played, then it is not unrealistic to think he could have passed for half a century of touchdowns already in 2018.
Sure, the LSU secondary is the best that Tagovailoa will have faced this season, but he doesn’t force throws of give the defense chances to pick off the ball. Tagovailoa has thrown just 45 incompletions through eight games so far, a stat that might be the most astonishing of all his achievements.
The Alabama running game
Somewhat lost in the Tagovailoa passing show is that the Alabama running game is once again the engine that keeps the offense moving.
This attack is one of the best that Saban has had at Alabama, with the addition of quarterback Jalen Hurts giving the Crimson Tide a five-deep depth chart that could all start for most other schools in the nation.
Individually the stats don’t jump out, but as a collective the attack has rolled for 1,735 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. The LSU defense will have to put at least eight in the box to stop this attack from breaking big gains, leaving the corners isolated on the outside. The offense just has too many weapons for LSU to contain.
The ‘Bama wide outs
One huge advantage of having Tagovailoa at quarterback is that every part of the spread offense is available to Saban. His quarterback is effective at both the quick throws that look for run after catch yardage and the deep ball that stretches a defense.
This ability also allows Alabama to spread the ball around. The Crimson Tide has four wide receivers that each have at least 20 catches and 400 receiving yards on the year. Past quarterbacks have locked on one player, while Tagovailoa can progress through his reads to find a mismatch.
The LSU secondary is talented, but there is no way to cover every receiver that Tagovailoa could pass to with a defender of the correct skillset.
LSU quarterback Burrow is not the man up to the task of beating the 2018 Alabama Crimson Tide.
In order to beat Alabama a team will need a quarterback that is either unerringly accurate with his passes, athletic enough to escape the Alabama pressure and make plays with his feet, or a combination of the two. Think Deshaun Watson at Clemson as the kind of player that would have any chance of keeping up with Alabama in a scoring battle.
Burrow has six touchdowns on the entire season. Given the way that Tagovailoa tosses touchdown passes, he might have to have six more in this game just to keep LSU competitive. It’s not going to happen.
Alabama has crazy momentum
One reason no one has come close to stopping Alabama is because the Tide are in juggernaut mode right now.
Winning becomes a habit, and it is a habit that Saban firmly entrenched at Alabama even when his offenses weren’t quite working as he would have liked.
This version of the Crimson Tide has no such issues. Their average margin of victory is an incredible 38 points – a total that again could be higher if Saban wanted to crush his opponents – and we are eight weeks deep into the season without seeing any weakness in the team (other than maybe the kicking game).
It is hard to stop that kind of momentum and LSU doesn’t have the key players to do so.