Alabama is good. Yes, you know that, but have you tried to wrap your mind around just how incredibly dominant this team has been this year? Alabama is beating the rest of the conference like a drum, and it is not terribly close.
Now, part of this is due to the collapse of their quality of schedule. The SEC is aggressively mediocre this year, and that’s being generous. Through no fault of its own, Bama managed to schedule the worst Florida State team in forty years. Bama’s response to the decrease of their strength of schedule has been swift and merciless: they are blowing the doors off of everyone in their way.
Bama won their first three games by 17, 31, and then 18 points. Good, but not exactly noteworthy. Then, upon arriving at the beginning of the SEC schedule, Bama unleashed hell. Their margin of victory, by game, has gone 59, 63, 8, 32, and 38. The Tide’s in-conference dominance has been so extreme that they beat hated rival Tennessee by 38 and their average margin of victory in SEC play actually went down.
There is virtually no part of the game that the Tide are not dominating right now. They lead the conference in scoring at 43.0 points per game, 5.4 points ahead of any other team. They average 499.8 yards per game, again, first in the SEC by a comfortable margin. Their 7.01 yards/play average only ranks second behind Mizzou, so obviously there are cracks in the foundation.
Bama’s running game goes for nearly 300 yards/game, first in the SEC. Their 6.34 yards/carry outdistances the next closest running attack, Georgia’s, by over a yard per carry. Their 28 rushing touchdowns is more than double eight teams in the conference, and two more (including LSU) are tied at 15, just shy of getting doubled up.
OK, they only rank eight in passing yards, but that’s because the Tide are usually ahead by such a large margin that it’s almost unsporting to pass anymore. They rank third in passer rating and lead the SEC with a 14/2 touchdown-interception ratio.
And that’s their weaker unit. The defense allows less than 10 points per game. The Tide allow 236.0 yards/game for an average of 3.93 yards/play. All of these marks, of course, lead the SEC.
The Alabama rushing defense allows 2.31 yards/carry on the year. TWO POINT THREE ONE. Of course, teams are so far behind, they abandon the run, so they have only the third best passing defense based upon total yards. However, opposing teams throw for 5.4 yards per attempt and a 99.52 rating, both leading SEC defenses. Oh, and they have intercepted 11 passes, four more than any other conference team.
Hell, Alabama even has the best turnover margin in the SEC, and that’s fueled partly by luck. They even dominate somewhat meaningless stats, notching the second best time of possession in the conference. Bama gets more long scrimmage plays than anyone, and allows less than anyone. They have the best defensive third-down conversion rate, though only fourth on offense. But that’s okay, because Bama is a perfect 11-of-11 on fourth downs.
Hell, the only thing Bama can’t do is punt, and that’s probably because they have no reason to practice it. Bama ranks dead last in average punt at 37.8. Of course, LSU can’t exploit this advantage, as the Tigers rank 12th.
Alabama’s dominance over the rest of the SEC is almost comical at this point. The Tide rank first in nearly every statistical category, and usually by wide margins. There is no earthly reason to think LSU has even the slightest chance of defeating such an unbeatable juggernaut.
But here’s the rub. Bama has managed to destroy the dregs of the conference. Excluding the Texas A&M game, Bama has amassed such impressive numbers and staggering margins of victory against four teams that are, collectively, 1-11 in SEC play. The only win was when Ole Miss beat Vanderbilt, both Alabama opponents.
But when Alabama actually had to play a team with a pulse, the Tide won by 8 points. OK, the Aggies scored a meaningless touchdown with 17 seconds left to make it look closer than it was, but they also didn’t totally blow the Aggies out either.
In their one game against an SEC team with a pulse, Bama outgained the Aggies by less than 50 yards, had the same number of first downs, lost the battle of time of possession, and needed a 3-1 edge in turnovers to stake themselves to a lead.
You have to ask yourself: is LSU more like that group of 1-11 teams or are they more like Texas A&M? Becuase Bama is real good at blowing out bad teams, but that doesn’t mean they get an automatic win against teams that are actually competent at playing football.
Bama is really good, but they are not invincible. Sure, they are a big, bad giant threatening to stomp on anyone who crosses their path. But all you need is a slingshot. It’s up to the team to find a rock.