Every once in a while, we get a glimpse of old school. Who’s tougher? Who wants it more?
“We must play,” LSU safety Chad Jones said, “very violently.”
You can smell it and feel it in the air. It’s November, the month when championships are won and defense supersedes all.
Forget about fancy spread offenses, pretty-boy quarterbacks and Heisman highlights. Saturday is about defensive backbone.
Two games — No. 9 LSU at No. 3 Alabama and No. 15 Ohio State at No. 11 Penn State — will have a significant impact on national and conference championship races. Both will be all defense, all the time. Check out the NCAA rankings for total defense: Alabama (fourth), Penn State (fifth), Ohio State (sixth) and LSU (15th). And for scoring defense: Penn State (first), Alabama (fifth), Ohio State (sixth) and LSU (seventh).
Settle in, folks, and turn up the volume for some teeth-rattling punishment.
No. 9 LSU at No. 3 Alabama, 3:30 p.m., CBS
Dominant defender: LB Rolando McClain. The best defensive player in the nation. LSU wants to run, McClain wants to hurt people. You figure it out.
Tigers’ response: Throw early and run wide. LSU must keep Bama guessing by throwing in run situations, and using outside speed to run away from McClain.
Dominant defender: DE Rahim Alem. LSU has more productive players on defense, but none more important. Alem’s ability to get pressure on struggling Tide QB Greg McElroy is critical.
Tide’s response: Screen passes to RBs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson to slow LSU’s aggressive front seven.