LSU vs Alabama: Bama Hammer breaks it down


The LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide meet this Saturday, in a game that is setting up to be one of the best of the 2015 college football season. Our friends at Bama Hammer help us break it down.

The SEC rivalry between the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide has provided some of the most dramatic moments in recent college football history.

If the play of the two teams through the first nine weeks of the season is any indictor, more high drama should be on the way when they meet in Tuscaloosa this Saturday.

Related: LSU vs Alabama – Preview, predictions, betting odds and live stream info

Arguably the two most powerful running backs in the country — LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Alabama’s Derrick Henry — go head-to-head with two of the most stout run defenses in the country. Both teams also feature starting quarterbacks that are searching for their first breakout performance in a marquee game since taking the reins of their respective offenses.

And if that were not enough storylines to add intrigue to this rivalry game, the Tigers and Crimson Tide both rank among the top-four in the initial College Football Playoff rankings.

In order to gain better insight into what to expect on Saturday from an Alabama perspective, we spoke with Chris Hale, editor of Bama Hammer. Here is what he had to say:

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Before we get started, what is your favorite moment from the Alabama-LSU rivalry over the years?

Man, I have so many. I’m probably a bit older than some readers at 36. As a Bama fan, I loved Shaun Alexander’s 291 yards in Death Valley during the 1996 season. For some fans that enjoyed talking smack to me,
I enjoyed the BCS Title game as well. Even though the rivalry has been one sided lately, the games have fairly close on each side. It’s always a memorable game no matter when they play.

The past few seasons have had some incredible showdowns between the two teams. Do you expect this year’s contest to come down to the wire?

I really do. Each strength for one team plays right into the strength of the other team. Both quarterbacks are starting to improve at just the right time. Two talented running backs going at it. It’s usually close and I don’t see this one being any different. Tell all fans to bring heart medication.

The obvious headlines heading into the game are the Heisman Trophy contenders in the backfield and the dominant run defenses. But what is the one crucial factor in this game that is being overlooked?

I think our offensive line against LSU defensive line. Left tackle Cam Robinson and right tackle Dominick Jackson are both injured. Robinson is just sort of nicked up but has been playing. Jackson missed a few days of practice but he is back out there now. The pass protection hasn’t been as good this year. Field goals could come into play for us. Adam Griffith got off to a bad start to the season but here lately, he has been money on his kicks.

Is the Tigers’ offense this year the most dynamic that Saban has faced from an LSU team since arriving at Alabama?

I think it is. Leonard Fournette is a dynamic back. No denying that. Brandon Harris is getting better each week. He may not be quite there yet but a great game is definitely in his grasp. Put those two things together and it may be a long night for my boys in Crimson.

What are your thoughts on Kevin Steele’s first year at LSU?

I always liked Kevin Steele at Alabama and you could tell Coach Saban thought a lot of him from hearing his comments from last week I believe it was. Saban won’t say he likes you if he doesn’t. Just from talking to fans of the Tigers, seems like he’s made a difference in the defense but there are still some things to improve. We have that on our end as well. Anytime you change up schemes a bit, there’s a learning curve. I think he will do fine as long as he stays in Baton Rouge a while.

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Who is going to be the X-factor for Alabama?

Hmmmmm. I may have to go with two here. The offensive line has to give Jake Coker protection and time to make the passes. Also, Adam Griffith. This one may come down to the wire and we will need him to knock them through the uprights.

Alabama will win because…

They limit Fournette as much as possible. I don’t think you can completely stop him but maybe just enough to keep him held back a little. The secondary is much improved for the Tide so I think they can limit the Tigers’ passing.

LSU will win because…

There is this guy you have on your team: Leonard Fournette. If he has a big game, it will be all over. If the Tigers defensive line can get after our offensive line to force some pressure on Coker, they could possibly get some turnovers that could turn the game around.

Give us your final prediction for the game.

I guess I will go with the homer pick but not go full Gump. I’ll go 24-20 Alabama. Hopefully it’s a good clean game with no injuries and someone will bring me some jambalaya.