What happens when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object? The country just might find out on Saturday when No. 1 Louisiana State University meets No. 2 Alabama.
The two teams are so similar it’s almost impossible to tell who will come out ahead, but here is a quick breakdown of some of the pairs similarities: great defense, a game manager at quarterback, a defense that makes up for its quarterback, a national title-winning head coach, a national title banner in last five years and a legitimate claim to the No. 1 ranking. What does all this equal? For fans of college football the “game of the century.”
When the Tigers meet the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa on Saturday evening it will be the first regular season matchup of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country since No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 2 Michigan in 2006. This game is also the first time in the SEC’s regular season history where the two top-ranked teams in the nation will square off.
These two teams feature stifling defenses, with NFL talent on the field wherever you turn. It’s hard to tell which one is better, as they both rank in the top five in total yards allowed. While Alabama is first allowing a marginal 6.9 points a game, it has played a much easier schedule then the Tigers, who feature a defense that has only allowed 11.5 points a contest against the likes of Oregon, West Virginia and Auburn.
However, the edge between these two juggernauts goes slightly to the Crimson Tide who give up a crazy low 6.9 points a game. That’s lower than a touchdown a game, their defense is incredible and looks like it is playing high school teams at times.
While the offenses on these teams aren’t nearly as great as their teammates on the other side of the ball, they are still talented.
Alabama’s running game is one of the best in the country thanks to Heisman contender Trent Richardson. Richardson has broken out this year into a full-fledged star after sitting in the shadow of former Alabama great Mark Ingram for two years. Now that Ingram has moved his talents to the NFL, Richardson is on fire. He already has 989 yards and 17 touchdowns this year, rushing against some of the best defenses in the country in the SEC. Richardson carries the majority of the offensive load for the Crimson Tide, keeping the pressure off of AJ McCarron, a first year starter at quarterback. McCarron has been good for Alabama this year, managing the game much like Greg McElory did for the Tide in their national title season in 2008.
LSU, on the other hand, has a much more balanced offensive game that relies on an above average running game and a downfield passing attack. The rushing game is led by a pair of solid running backs, Spencer Ware and Michael Ford, each of whom have six touchdowns this year and at least 441 yards on the season. The passing game relies on play action and Jarrett Lee’s ability to push the ball down the gridiron to get the ball to any weapon in his super talented receiving core, that is led by Russell Shepard and Rueben Randle.
Both teams average 39 points a game, but the advantage goes to LSU by the slimmest margins because they can trust their senior quarterback in the toughest situations. Alabama might have to put the ball in the hands of a first year starter, that hasn’t seen this kind of spotlight yet.
After taking a look at the defensive and offensive sides of the ball the game is still too close to call and both teams excel at special teams, so neither have a clear advantage.
However, there is one aspect of the game neither team can control that may make all the difference — the location. This year’s game takes place in Alabama’s famously loud home confines, and that will make the difference by the slimmest of margins in this “game of the century.”