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STAT Watch: Alabama

Newsflash: They’re good

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve taken a look at a lot different teams in this weekly stat watch column. Some have looked pretty good, some good but with faulty units somewhere and others just plain bad. That sort of sums up LSU’s schedule so far this year. They’ve seen good teams, okay teams and bad teams. They probably haven’t seen a great team yet. This week, they see not just a great team, but the baddest, biggest boss of them all. Alabama. Let’s take a look at how the Tide shake out in the advanced stats (Hint: Really good.)

This Season

A note on these stats: The offensive and defensive S&P+ marks are calculated as adjusted scoring averages and for the situational ratings, above 100 is good and below 100 is bad. Links to an explanation on the various stats here:

  • S&P+ (Percentile): 99.5% (2nd in FBS)
  • Offensive S&P+: 42.8 (3rd in FBS)
  • Offensive Rushing S&P+: 135.2 (5th in FBS)
  • Offensive Passing S&P+: 115.2 (34th in FBS)
  • Defensive S&P+: 9.0 (2nd in FBS)
  • Defensive Rushing S&P+: 169.1 (1st in FBS)
  • Defensive Passing S&P+: 161.0 (2nd in FBS)
  • FEI: .329 (1st in FBS)
  • F/+: 71.3% (1st in FBS)

Alabama is really, really freaking good. I mean, absurdly, why do we let them play the same sport as everyone else good. Their F/+ is the fourth highest since it’s been tracked behind 2008 Florida, 2005 Texas and 2012 Alabama. There have only been six teams with a higher FEI and three of those were other Nick Saban Alabama teams. They are 1st or 2nd in every defensive S&P+ stat. They are in the top 15 of every offensive S&P+ stat except one: Passing. And that’s where LSU is going to have to get them. Alabama runs it as good as anyone, stops the run better than anyone and only one team stops the pass better. But they do have a weakness in the passing game. That’s where LSU has a chance to flip the script. If they stop the pass, they can better stop the run and they can hold Alabama to few enough points where it’s in touching distance for the offense to win even thought they’re playing Bama’s defense. The good news: LSU has the fourth-best passing defense according to S&P+ (and sixth best defense overall.) S&P+ has LSU as a six-point underdog on Saturday, which seems about right. Alabama is incredible, close to as good as any Nick Saban team has been, but LSU is pretty good too and they’re at home. If they can win the winnable match-ups they’ve got a shot. But it’s going to be tough.