SEC Football Q&A: Who Wins the Battle in the Trenches Between Alabama and LSU?

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 7, 2013

November 3, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA, USA;  Alabama Crimson Tide defense lines up against the LSU Tigers offense during a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 21-17. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Every Thursday on The SEC Blog, we feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email at bsallee@bleacherreport.com.

You have SEC questions, and I have SEC answers. Thank you for your questions. If I didn't get to them this week, they will be saved and used in the future.

And we're off!

 

@BarrettSallee who wins the trenches battle in the Bama-LSU game? Bamas O-line looked shaky early in the year. They've really improved since

— david bailey (@bamadave09) November 5, 2013

When Alabama has the ball, definitely the Crimson Tide.

You're right about their offensive line struggling early this season. It was downright dreadful against Virginia Tech in the opener, and was average-at-best during the first month of the season.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Alabama head coach Nick SabanKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

But it has come on strong lately. Guard Arie Kouandjio seems to be over his early-season jitters, brother Cyrus at tackle isn't as prone to holding calls, Ryan Kelly seems to have developed nicely at center, and when he went out, Chad Lindsay filled in admirably. 

They've allowed the fewest tackles for loss in the SEC this season (32) and have only given up seven sacks—tied with Arkansas for the fewest in the conference.

Meanwhile, LSU's front four has been hit-or-miss lately. They looked good against Furman and Florida, but gave up 216 rushing yards to Mississippi State and gave up 105 rushing yards to backup Ole Miss running back Jaylen Walton, who was filling in for Jeff Scott.

When LSU has the ball, I'd say it's the Tigers who have the advantage up front.

LSU has only given up 37 tackles for loss this season in one more game than Alabama (32) has played. They can get downfield and open holes for running back Jeremy Hill, even against a defense that's a physical as Alabama's front seven.

Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide has struggled to get opponents in negative situations. They've stopped opponents behind the line just 36 times this season—13th in the SEC and 116th in the nation.

So, to put it simply, it's not going to be a 9-6 slugfest like this game was two years ago. Both defenses are decent, but there will be some points scored in Tuscaloosa.

 

@BarrettSallee is this a 1 SEC in the BCS year?

— Phil Singleton (@pwsing) November 4, 2013

No, I think there will be two SEC teams in the BCS this season.

Right now, I have Alabama in the title game and Auburn running the table up to the Iron Bowl, losing to the Crimson Tide and getting the Sugar Bowl berth.

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Signage is displayed at the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game between the Oregon Ducks and the Auburn Tigers at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty I
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

But even if the Tigers stub their toe along the way, Missouri could easily get into that Sugar Bowl if it loses to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, as could South Carolina or even Texas A&M.

A bowl game would likely be the last college game for Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel, so if the Aggies can get into the final Top 14 and insert themselves into the pool of at-large teams, it'd be hard for a BCS game to pass up on Manzielmania.

The SEC will get a second team in the BCS, regardless of how the dominoes fall around the country during the final month of the season.

 

@BarrettSallee Which is more likely: Arkansas gets another win this season or Muschamp gets fired at Florida?

— Dancing Donkey (@DancingDonkeyAR) November 3, 2013

Arkansas is much more likely to get a win.

The only way Florida fires Will Muschamp this season is if the Gators go 5-7, which would likely require a loss to Vanderbilt this weekend.

Arkansas RB Alex Collins
Arkansas RB Alex CollinsNelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas is in a free fall after losing six straight games, but there's a bright light on the horizon in the form of the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Dan Mullen's crew sits at 4-4 and will travel to Arkansas on the next-to-last weekend of the year after games against South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama—all of which are Top 15 teams. 

The Bulldogs will be beat up, and Arkansas will have two weeks to prepare for the home tilt.

Advantage: Arkansas, despite the fact that Bret Bielema's crew hasn't done much to instill confidence in Hog Nation of late.

 

Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at bsallee@bleacherreport.com.