1. Big-play AJ: LSU’s recent run-it-down-your-throat streak isn’t likely to end against Alabama. The Tigers’ run-heavy scheme, though, might have a humbling experience. Bama’s 3-4 front will likely be the biggest LSU has seen this season. That leads us to our headline: Big-play AJ. QB Anthony Jennings might be asked to make more big plays in this one than he has all season. Bama’s secondary is the weak link of a solid defense. Jennings had benefited from the bye week and extra days of prep, Les Miles said. He’ll need it.
2. Stay on Cooper: Stopping Bama WR Amari Cooper won’t win LSU the game, but not stopping him will lose the Tigers the game. Cooper is the SEC’s leader in receiving yards, receptions and TD catches, and the Tide like to utilize him, especially early, as a big-play weapon. LSU isn’t likely to have one specific cornerback on him, but expect Rashard Robinson, generally seen as LSU’s most athletic corner, to be on him much of the time. Cooper is quick, and players rave about his crisp route running.
3. Exploiting left tackle: Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson, a Monroe native and the former No. 1-ranked tackle in the nation last year, is questionable for the game Saturday. He suffered a high ankle sprain against Tennessee two weeks ago and has since been quickly recovering. If he doesn’t play, look for LSU to try to exploit that area. Robinson has been the Tide’s best lineman this season, and his presence would be missed.
4. Stand right up and roar: Before LSU’s game with Ole Miss two weeks ago, Miles told fans to “bring food” into Tiger Stadium and stay until the fourth quarter. Later in the week, he corrected himself. He said he didn’t know that fans were banned from carrying in outside food. This week, Miles sent this message to fans on his radio show: “Stand regularly and make noise repeatedly.” No doubt that LSU is the lesser team (Tigers are touchdown underdogs) so Miles’ team, as it did against Ole Miss, will need help from a sold-out stadium.
Ross Dellenger: Alabama 21, LSU 13
There’s one thing this LSU team must do well to win: run the football. The Tigers are morphing into a more one-dimensional team with each passing game. That’s OK when they’re running for 200-plus yards. Think they’ll do that another week? If they do, they’ll probably win. If they don’t, they’ll probably lose. Here’s betting ... nothing because I have no faith in this pick ... that LSU can’t do enough on the ground.
Sheldon Mickles: LSU 20, Alabama 14
In the three games since the Auburn debacle, the LSU defense has played lights-out. Other than two touchdowns Florida got off long punt returns, the defense has allowed two legitimate touchdown drives in 12 quarters. If they play like that against Bama, they’ll have a chance to pull off an upset -- provided their offense gives them a little help against one of the stingiest defenses in the land.
Scott Rabalais: LSU 17, Alabama 13
Alabama has the more balanced and productive offense, slightly better defensive numbers and the scent of a national championship trophy in its nostrils. And yet LSU has Tiger Stadium, at night, a place so loud it could crack anyone’s psyche. If the Tigers ride that wave and don’t fool around as they did against Ole Miss, they’ll pull off the upset.