The Top 5 reasons why Les Miles and the LSU Tigers will beat Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide:
1. Tiger Stadium on Saturday Night
LSU refuses to lose at Tiger Stadium on Saturday night under coach Les Miles. The Tigers are 36–1 after nightfall at Tiger Stadium with the Mad Hatter eating grass and rocking his white hat on the sidelines. The only loss came against Tim Tebow and No. 1-ranked Florida in a 13–3 defeat in 2009. The Tigers have reeled off 22 straight wins at home since then, with a rowdy crowd of 90,000-plus cheering them to routine victory.
Bama coach Nick Saban — who coached at LSU from 2000-04 — knows how hard it is to win under the lights at LSU, even if the Vegas oddsmakers (Alabama –8.5) don’t show the same level of respect to Baton Rouge.
2. Bayou Bengals’ Defensive Line
The Tigers’ defensive front four rotation is loaded with future NFL first-round picks. Defensive ends Sam Montgomery (6’5”, 260), Barkevious Mingo (6’5”, 240) and Lavar Edwards (6’5”, 258) are devastating with their edge rush, while big nasty defensive tackles Anthony Johnson (6’3”, 304), Bennie Logan (6’3”, 295), Josh Downs (6’1”, 287) and Ego Ferguson (6’3”, 308) collapse the pocket and clog running lanes.
Granted, Alabama has the best O-line in the country. But Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron has been spoiled to this point, playing with a clean jersey all season. LSU will need to slam McCarron to the turf a few times, while also maintaining gap responsibilities against the run. The Bayou Bengals’ defensive line is good enough to carry LSU to an upset victory.
3. Les Miles in Mad Hatter Mode
More with Les. Fake field goals, fake punts, fourth-down conversions, end-arounds, halfback passes, two-point conversions… Les Miles is a big game hunter who is unafraid of making outside the box decisions and bold moves other coaches cringe at the thought of. Miles likes to howl at the moon, with a 57–5 record at night — including a 9–6 overtime victory over Alabama under the cover of darkness in Tuscaloosa last season — compared to a 25–14 mark during day.
4. Punter Brad Wing Does It Again
Australian punter Brad Wing was arguably the MVP of last year’s defensive 9–6 LSU overtime win at Alabama. Wing single-handedly controlled field position for the Tigers, allowing the defense to pin its ears back and the offense to play conservative. Wing’s punting exhibition included the following gems:
37-yard punt, out of bounds at Alabama 5-yard-line
35-yard punt, downed at Alabama 4
27-yard punt, fair catch at Alabama 11
73-yard punt, downed at Alabama 18
35-yard punt, fair catch at Alabama 20
If Wing has another night with five punts placed inside the 20, two inside the five and a momentum-changing 73-yard bomb, LSU can beat Alabama.
5. Clock Killing Running Attack
LSU has a fleet of running backs in Kenny Hilliard (420 yards, 6 TDs), Michael Ford (357 yards, 3 TDs), Jeremy Hill (322 yards, 5 TDs) and Spencer Ware (255 yards). The Tigers also have a versatile ex-quarterback slash option in Russell Shepard (106 yards, 78-yard TD) and a sledgehammer fullback in J.C. Copeland (3 TDs). Alabama’s backs are flashier, but LSU’s runners have combined to rush for 1,667 yards, on 4.9 yards per carry, and 20 TDs this season.
If the lathered up Tiger Stadium crowd is Geaux-ing insane all night, the Bayou Bengals’ defensive line is eating like big dogs, Les Miles is pulling rabbits out of his hat and Brad Wing is flipping the field like an Australian toilet swirl, it will be the LSU running game that seals the deal — moving the chains, draining the clock and upsetting No. 1-ranked Alabama.