At the beginning of the season almost no one would have thought this game would have been the game to decide the SEC West. Well it turns out they were right just not in the way most were expecting. Before the season most people would have figured the Auburn-LSU game was the game that would decide the West. Turns out most people would have been wrong. Alabama snuch up on the rest of the West and the entire SEC so far and has taken firm control of the West with a two game advantage heading into this weekend's game with the Bayou Bengals. One had to figure this point would come for LSU where all the risk taking that Les Miles does would catch up to them. The team is still as talented as any in the SEC but something is missing from this years version of the team that has been there since Nick Saban was the coach. LSU is missing a killer instinct. In my view it looks like the team plays like everything should be handed to them simply because they are LSU. With the talent on hand LSU should have been able to man handle the offensively challenged Tigers from Auburn yet only won by 5 points. They really should have been able to pile on the points against Mississippi State, but didn't exactly blow them out either. Then came what had to be the most demoralizing loss in the Les Miles era to Florida in the swamp. Yet another beatdown to Georgia in Baton Rouge followed not long after the Florida game.
Now this is a team that entering the season was supposedly stacked on the offensive and defensive lines. They supposedly had the best lines in the SEC if not the country. Up to this point though the most impressive player I have seen on the roster has been Charles Scott who I thought was a legit Heisman candidate before the Florida game, but since then he has been pretty quiet.
Alabama on the other hand has in my mind the best offensive line in college football when healthy. I figure all five starters will be playing on Sundays in the future. Andre Smith to me may be the best left tackle to play in collge football since Orlando Pace was roaming the sidelines for Ohio State. The other four aren't exactly average either. To me this years line reminds me a lot of some of those old Michigan lines of the 80's that would just line up and make it their personal mission to pancake the whole defense. They are easily the most impressive part of Alabama's offense.
The defensive line isn't exactly bad though. Cody and the gang will make things interesting in the trenches this weekend. I think to stop the LSU running game though they will have to line up in more four down lineman than they usually do. I also think the impressive freshman Julio Jones should have a big day against LSU's inexperienced secondary. The reason I say this is while Jones is young and inexperienced also, he knows what he is going to do on each and every play. Its the secondaries job to react. Inexperience shows up more when it comes to reactions that actions therefore advantage Jones.
I think Alabama though despite having an awesome offensive line won't be able to line up and just punch LSU in the mouth with their running game. Yes Florida piled up the running yards but that is with a totally different style running game. Alabama likes to pound you right in the teeth with their running game and I think that is where LSU's run defense is the strongest. I think the back that will excel for Bama will be Ingram or possibly Upchurch, but I don't look for Coffee to do a lot of damage during the game. I think the aggresiveness of LSU's defense will work against them in this game with screen passes to Upchurch and draws with Ingrim. If Bama does this then in the late third and early fourth quarters start pounding with Coffee they will have LSU worn out.
One thing I do know is that coming into Baton Rouge for the first time since returning to the SEC, Saban won't have the red carpet rolled out for him. It will be the loudest stadium this young team has played in to date. The atmosphere is going to be electric. Alabama can not only play for two quarters and expect to come out with a win. They have the target on their chests right now being the number 1 team in the country. An upset could happen and ruin the SEC's chance for a third straight BCS champ. Not this week though I see Bama winning in a slobberknocker 26-23.