Both Alabama and LSU had a hard time scoring on each other in their first match up this season back on Nov. 5th. So I’ve been thinking about how each team would score on the other in their rematch. That led me to thinking about how their opponents scored on them this year. And that led to the two charts below.
The charts reflect some data associated with touchdown scoring drives allowed. That includes the obvious – passing and rushing touchdowns, but also fumble returns and kickoff returns. I’ve highlighted in blue several “odd” drives.
After reviewing the above data, I’m even more impressed with each defense, especially Alabama’s.
I’m sure I’ll sound like a homer, but the case could be made that 10 of the 12 scores were somewhat flukish: 1) The Kent score came after a near pick six; 2) the Penn State score came in the fourth quarter and could be considered a garbage score; 3) Florida’s score was a first play of the game quick strike; 4) Ole Miss also benefited from a quick strike play on the opening drive; 5) Mississippi State scored in garbage time after a long kickoff return; 6-8) Georgia Southern’s three scores? Three option-based flukes; 9) Auburn’s first score came from a sack of AJ McCarron who fumbled into the end zone; and 10) Auburn returned the opening kick of the second half for a score.
LSU’s defense has also been impressive, especially in conference play. The Tiger’s allowed seven combined touchdowns against out of conference foes Oregon, West Virginia and Western Kentucky. Despite a frantic first half attack from Georgia in the SEC championship game, the Bulldogs only scored one touchdown. The Tigers have also played 13 games so far, one more than Alabama.
The Tigers also gave up at least four flukish type scores: 1) a garbage touchdown by Kentucky in the fourth quarter; 2) a 65 yard pass for a TD by Florida to open the second half; 3) a garbage score against Auburn in the fourth quarter; and 4) a fumble return for a score by Arkansas.
The Tide has only allowed two touchdown scoring drives of more than 10 plays – one to Arkansas and the above-mentioned Penn State drive. LSU has allowed nine drives for touchdowns of 10 or more plays.
There are two ways to look at this. One, if you are going to score against LSU, you are going to have to work for it – all the way down the field. The other is that perhaps the Tiger defense has trouble getting off the field at times. Four of the nine drives came against Oregon and West Virginia and Tiger fans would argue that two of those drives were of the garbage variety.
Oregon and West Virginia are also noted for trying to run a lot of plays.
A couple of other things to note…
** Neither team has given up a pick six.
** Alabama’s average scoring drive allowed of 54.42 is quite a bit shorter than LSU’s 69.93
** Passing seems to be the way to score on these defenses, if it can be done. Alabama has allowed seven passing scores out of 12 allowed. LSU has allowed eight out of 14.
What does all of this mean? It means these are two great defenses! Plus, we have 44 days to kill between kickoffs and I needed something to do.