TIDE, TAKE THREE
Three tidbits regarding top-ranked Alabama entering this week's game at No. 5 LSU:
- Alabama leads the series with LSU 46-25-5, but the Tigers have an 11-10 advantage since the SEC went to divisional play in 1992.
- The Crimson Tide have not allowed 300 total yards to an SEC team since the start of last season.
- Alabama has converted turnovers into 125 points this season. Opponents have converted Tide turnovers into three points.
Haven't we met before?
Alabama and LSU will square off as top-five teams for the third time within a year when the No.1 Crimson Tide and No. 5 Tigers collide Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. LSU defeated Alabama 9-6 in overtime last Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa, but the Tide avenged that setback with a 21-0 thumping in New Orleans to claim college football's national championship.
LSU was No. 1 and Alabama No. 2 for each 2011 meeting.
"Every year is a different year, and I think they have a little different team with different players with the way they're going about what they do," Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday. "They're very effective in what they do, but I think any time you play somebody in your division or conference every year, you sort of develop a history. I'm sure they have developed a history of the things we like to do as well.
"You feel like you can do a little better job in preparation because you have that knowledge and experience, but just about every time these guys have played us, they do something a little bit different. So you have to be prepared to adjust as well."
As with last year's regular-season meeting, CBS moved this one to prime time.
LSU will be handing out 60,000 gold towels to its fans before the game, and players and coaches on both sides believe controlling the excitement will be key.
"The toughest thing about games like this is trying to remain calm and cool," LSU punter Brad Wing said. "You can't let emotions start overflowing, because you won't perform well."
Said Alabama tailback Eddie Lacy: "They're going to come out with a high energy and ready to go. They will give us everything they have just like every other opponent."
Saban doesn't believe his Crimson Tide were in the proper mental frame this time last year.
"If there was anything that I would say about last year's game, it's that I think there is such a thing as almost being too sort of ramped up," Saban said. "Everybody has a recipe and a formula for how they play their best, and that's obviously the goal every week that you play. When you play in games like this, you would like to change it and put a little more sugar in the cake, but that can make the cake taste worse.
"We have to stay with the formula that helps our players take care of business the best way they can. That takes a lot of intensity and a lot of energy and a lot of emotion, but you can't go overboard to where the anxiety creates a negative and affects their performance in an adverse way."
Alabama's kickers certainly struggled amid the magnitude of last year's game, combining to miss four of six field-goal attempts, but Jeremy Shelley and Cade Foster enter this week with some momentum.
Shelley is one of two kickers nationally yet to miss an extra point or a field goal, having hit all 40 extra-point attempts and all nine of his field-goal tries. Five of his field goals have been 30-38 yards long.
Foster handles the longer attempts and is 4-of-8 from beyond 40 yards and 3-of-5 from beyond 50.
"I think both of those guys have improved," Saban said. "Cade is a lot more confident in the technical aspect, and Jeremy has always been pretty accurate and continues to be that way. He has a good maturity about him."
Alabama will be trying to end LSU's 22-game victory streak at Tiger Stadium, or "Death Valley." The Tigers recorded their 22nd straight by topping previously undefeated South Carolina 23-21 on Oct. 13, a win that was followed by LSU coach Les Miles exclaiming, "Death Valley is truly a place where opponents' dreams go to die."
Asked Monday about the deafening crowd that awaits, Tide guard Chance Warmack said, "I'm pretty sure it's adversity we're going to overcome."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.