Alabama’s winning streak over LSU is well documented. The Crimson Tide has taken five straight against the Tigers since a 9-6 LSU win in overtime in the regular season in 2011.
LSU’s failures against Alabama during that stretch were a big reason while Les Miles was fired earlier this season, especially when compared to Nick Saban’s accomplishments. Since the Tigers’ last win over the Crimson Tide, Alabama has won three SEC titles, made the College Football Playoff twice and won three national championships, one of which came via a win over LSU in January 2012.
Why has Alabama been able to handle LSU five times in the past four years? ESPN’s David Ching points to offensive line play.
Take a look at the differences in LSU’s ability to run the ball and pass protect against Alabama compared to every other team over the past four seasons.
From story I just posted. Compared LSU's stats vs. Alabama to its production vs. all others since losing streak started. Big day for o-line. pic.twitter.com/w1sOUXhYik
— David Ching (@ESPNChing) November 1, 2016
Compared to their normal competition, the Tigers have averaged less than half as many rushing yards, less than half as many yards per carry and more than 150 fewer total yards per game against Alabama’s dominant defensive front. They’ve also given up 1.2 more sacks per game. That all goes back to how well LSU’s offensive line can block.
To beat the Crimson Tide this week, Ching argues that LSU’s offensive line will have to play significantly better than in 2015 and other seasons past.
“If LSU moves the ball successfully against the Tide,” Ching said, “it will be because of the combination of LSU’s offensive line holding its own and Etling playing a much more competent game than (Brandon) Harris did a season ago.”
LSU hosts Alabama at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday on CBS.