Hot Reads: LSU needs to rely on run against Alabama - News, Weather & Sports

Hot Reads: 3 things to count on - death, disease, football

Zach Mettenberger has been the engine in LSU's offense this season, but he has sputtered recently. (Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics) Zach Mettenberger has been the engine in LSU's offense this season, but he has sputtered recently. (Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
Christion Jones and the Crimson Tide shouldn't expect to run away from the Tigers, but that doesn't mean they won't. (Source: Alabama Athletic Communications) Christion Jones and the Crimson Tide shouldn't expect to run away from the Tigers, but that doesn't mean they won't. (Source: Alabama Athletic Communications)

(RNN) - Hot Reads has learned that there is something relatively important going on in Tuscaloosa, AL, on Saturday night. Has anyone else heard about this?

(Intern whispering in my ear) It has recently come to my attention that the football teams for Alabama and LSU will try to clear up an epileptic rash. Don't know what that is, but it sounds serious and I'm betting it will take longer than one day to clear up.

(Intern again) Oh, he said "epic clash." That makes more sense. It's important to enunciate, folks - even when you're speaking in a low tone so that only one person will hear you.

Moving on, with all due respect to the brilliance of What We Learned, there are a few things from this past weekend we can add to our knowledge base. As an aside, you can hear the writers of both these columns debate deep, life-altering issues by clicking here.

1. Johnny Football is getting old - At least in superhuman, Heisman-winning, freak of nature, Twitter legend terms. What's with him scrambling and throwing the ball away against UTEP instead of scrambling and turning the defense into shredded cheese with a 15-yard run that takes three minutes to finish?

He was actually sacked on two consecutive plays, and fumbled the second one. Gasp! That beating he took against Auburn could still be with him, or teams could be getting smarter about defending him. Either way, it has to make you more hopeful Missouri's James Franklin is ready to go for a showdown in the regular season finale.

2. Tyler Murphy has no help - It's sad because the talent is there. Dropped passes, a running game that's in the toilet and ridiculous mental mistakes have deprived us of enjoying one of the good young quarterbacks in this league.

It's hard to notice when Florida makes big plays because a lot of the positive things they do get wiped out by their conference-leading 62 penalty yards per game. Ouch!

If the Gators were taking care of business like they're capable of doing there would have been no need to score 17 consecutive points just for the honor of losing a close game to Georgia.


LSU at Alabama, 8 p.m. ET Saturday

Nothing that happens in this game should surprise you - no matter who wins, no matter what the score is, no matter if aliens destroy Bryant-Denny Stadium and abduct the cheerleaders as their trophies.

Something is not quite right with the Tigers, but it's hard to put a finger on. They look good on film, they're on pace to break a school record for points and they have everything they need to win this game. So what's up?

Maybe it's this:  They're near the bottom of the NFL Lite in turnover margin, penalties and red zone defense.

Or it could be this: LSU is 1-4 against opponents ranked No. 1 under Les Miles. However, he does have three wins against Alabama teams coached by Nick Saban, more than any other coach in the country.

More than likely, though, it's this: Zach Mettenberger's season is a total 180 from a year ago. In 2013 the perception was the Tigers were winning games in spite of him, not because of him. Then he came within a first down of beating Alabama, and he looked like a guy any team that didn't have a QB named Manziel, Murray or McCarron wanted.

This year he started off playing like everybody's All-American, but a tough loss to Georgia, three picks in a loss to Ole Miss and a pick-6 in a sluggish first half against Furman changed that.

Riddle me this: how is a football team with all that depth at running back and an offensive line that good not leading the league in rushing and only holding onto the ball less than 29 minutes per game?

I understand Mettenberger can do a lot of great things for a team, but more good things can happen running the ball than throwing it.

If LSU wants to beat Alabama, it has to give them a heavy dose of the ground game. And yes, Hot Reads is aware the Crimson Tide has the No. 7 rushing defense in the country. But this game will be a heavyweight fight, and you don't jab to knock people out. You do it to soften them up.

It's not that LSU's offense relies heavily on passing - the team has run the ball 114 more times than it has thrown. It's just that they take a lot of long shots down the field. Mettenberger has led the SEC in passing yards per attempt pretty much the whole season.

Can't do that on Saturday.

Alabama already has enough advantages - home field, Nick Saban, a "game manager" quarterback who happens to win a lot of games and motivation to play well enough that the aliens will want to watch the game instead of interrupting it.

If the Tigers try to hit home runs against a defense this good, they are certain to lose. But Les Miles probably won't listen to this, just like he didn't listen to Hot Reads' earlier advice to stop coloring his hair.

But whatevs. To each his own and what not.

There's life outside the SEC?

Oklahoma at Baylor, 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday

Thankfully, Oregon and Stanford don't kick off until 90 minutes later. That gives you some time to peruse this futuristic look at college football, foreshadowing when teams will be able to score about 100 points and give up only 10.

Oklahoma would seemingly put the jewel in its Big 12 crown with a win over Baylor, but let's look at this game in perspective.

Sure, the Bears score close to 64 points per game, and they are 11th in the country in yards allowed and sixth in points allowed. That's because their toughest competition has been West Virginia (4-5), Louisiana-Monroe (5-4) and Central Texas Women's College (NRA).

Just saying. The Sooners present unquestionably what is the toughest test the Bears have faced all season.

Sooners was a nickname for people who settled the western territories of America. Didn't cowboys live in the Old West? Don't cowboys hunt and kill bears?

I guarantee Oklahoma has a couple of silver bullets with Baylor's name on them.

Stat of the Week:

316: Florida has gone longer than any other SEC team without getting shut out. The Gators' streak is also the second longest in the nation behind Michigan, which has scored in 357 consecutive games.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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