The Notorious PAB is back with a pretty cool look at the Alabama v LSU series updated with Saturday’s result…enjoy!
Before we try to put Bama’s important and thrilling 30-16 win over LSU on Saturday evening into context, clarifications are in order.
One, in the previous entry by this writer, it was stated that Ole Miss’s only stumble at that time, a 38-10 loss to the Florida Gators “has no impact on SEC West standings.” In fact, SEC Division standings are based on overall conference records, not just within-division records.
Two, it was also noted that the Tide was on a three-game winning streak against the Tigers, with two of those victories secured at Tiger Stadium. During CBS’s TV coverage, Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson referred several times to Bama’s four-game winning streak. Four games it was, if we include Bama’s decisive 21-0 win in the 2012 BCS title contest.
Bama’s regular season winning streak over LSU now stands at four games, two away and two at home. The overall winning streak, including the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game (its official title) in the Superdome, is 5-0. In deference to Mr.Danielson, whose college football past (QB, Purdue, 1970-72) places him in high esteem with this writer, data from that historic victory will included in this entry.
To quote the title of a rather famous R&B standard, “What A Difference A Day Makes.” On a single Saturday in November, (CFP 4) Bama defeated (1) LSU; Arkansas bested (18) Ole Miss, 53-52, in overtime; and two undefeated teams saw their perfect seasons come to abrupt ends: (14) Michigan State lost to Nebraska, 39-38, in Lincoln, and (5) Oklahoma State took down (13) TCU, 49-29 in Stillwater. (Holding TCU to 29 points counts as a monumental defensive effort this season in the Big 12.)
We’re left with six undefeated teams in big-time college football:
- Clemson 9-0
- Ohio State 9-0
- Baylor 8-0
- Oklahoma State 9-0
- Iowa 9-0
- Houston 9-0
Bama, at 8-1, is the only team with a loss in the College Football Playoff (CFP) top (it’s by no means “final” at this point) four. Oklahoma State moved up and TCU dropped quite a bit.
The Tide is now in quite familiar territory – first place in the SEC West. Bama holds the head-to-head tie breaker over LSU, while Ole Miss now has two losses, to Florida (East) and Arkansas (West). The Rebels and the Tigers are slated to meet on November 21 in Oxford. That’s sure to be a hard-fought and entertaining game – what SEC West contests aren’t – but its potential impact on the SEC and CFP national championship is not what some once thought it might be.
In professional sports, the conventional wisdom is “No playoff series really gets started until the home team losses a game.” In the SEC West for the last several years, it’s “Nothing is settled until Bama and LSU play one another.”
“What A Difference A Day Makes” was recorded by Dinah Washington, and won the Grammy in 1959 for “Best Rhythm & Blues Performance.” Ms. Washington, among other awards and recognition, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 in the “Early Influences” category. And, for those of you who believe in larger forces at work in our world, she was born Ruth Lee Jones on August 29, 1924, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama!
Game results, 2007 – 2015
Bama / LSU game results, including the 2015 game, during Coach Saban’s tenure. Years with wins at Baton Rouge are in bold; the 2012 BCS Championship Game is included and given in italics:
2007 Bama 34 LSU 41 LOSS Bryant-Denny Stadium
2008 Bama 27 LSU 21 WIN Tiger Stadium
2009 Bama 24 LSU 15 WIN Bryant-Denny Stadium
2010 Bama 21 LSU 24 LOSS Tiger Stadium
2011 Bama 6 LSU 9 LOSS Bryant-Denny Stadium
2012 Bama 21 LSU 0 WIN Superdome, New Orleans, LA
2012 Bama 21 LSU 17 WIN Tiger Stadium
2013 Bama 38 LSU 17 WIN Bryant-Denny Stadium
2014 Bama 20 LSU 13 WIN Tiger Stadium
2015 Bama 30 LSU 16 WIN Bryant-Denny Stadium
These figures are for 10 contests: nine regular meetings and the 2012 BCS National Championship Game. For our purposes, the BCS title game is an away game: LSU was designated the home team due to its higher BCS ranking. It is also true that, according to Mapquest, the Superdome is 291.7 miles from Bryant-Denny, but only 81.6 miles from Tiger Stadium. (It was still a long trip home for Tiger fans, given the 21-0 outcome. Harsh… but true.)
All results are given from the Bama perspective. So a Tide win means a Tiger loss, a Tide home game is a Tiger away game and so on.
- Bama: 7 – 3 (70.0 %) LSU: 3 – 7 (30.0%)
- Bama at home: 3 – 2 (66.7%) Away: 4 – 1 (80.0%)
A lot of big-time college football programs – a whole lot of them – would be very happy with a 3-2 home record against LSU during the Les Miles years. That’s what makes Bama’s road record against the Tigers so astonishing. Four wins against only one loss in big-stakes, high-profile, nationally-viewed games played in Tiger Stadium and, in the case of the biggest game of all, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Remarkable.
- 242 points in 10 games 2 ppg
- 181 points in 7 wins 8 ppg
- 61 points in 3 losses 3 ppg
- Most points scored, any game: 38 in 2013 (win)
- Fewest points scored in any game: 6 in 2011 (loss)
- 173 points in 10 games 3 ppg
- 99 points in 7 wins 1 ppg
- 74 points in 3 losses 7 ppg
- Most points allowed, any game: 41 in 2007 (loss)
- Most points allowed, win: 21 in 2008
- Most points allowed, loss: 41 in 2007
- Fewest points allowed, any game: 0 in 2012 BCS title game (win)
- Fewest point allowed, win 0 in 2012 BCS title game
- Fewest points allowed, loss 9 in 2011
242 points vs. 173 points in 10 games +69 points +6.9 ppg
181 points vs. 99 points in 7 wins +82 points +11.7 ppg
61 points vs. 74 points in 3 losses -13 points -4.3 ppg
Average game scores
- All games: 2 ppg vs. 17.3 ppg Margin: +7.1ppg
- Seven wins: 8 ppg vs. 14.1 ppg Margin: +11.7 ppg
- Three losses: 3 ppg vs. 24.7 ppg Margin: -4.4 ppg
We see that in Bama’s seven wins, the margin has been very slightly greater than one touchdown plus PAT, while the three losses have been, on average, by little more than a field goal.
Evolution of scoring and scoring defense averages
Scored Allowed Margin
2007 Bama 34 LSU 41 LOSS 0-1 34.0 ppg 41.0 ppg -7.0 ppg
2008 Bama 27 LSU 21 WIN 1-1 30.5 ppg 31.0 ppg -0.5 ppg
2009 Bama 24 LSU 15 WIN 2-1 28.3 ppg 25.7 PPG +2.6 ppg
2010 Bama 21 LSU 24 LOSS 2-2 26.5 ppg 25.3 ppg +0.8 ppg
2011 Bama 6 LSU 9 LOSS 2-3 22.4 ppg 22.0 ppg +.0.4 ppg
2012 Bama 21 LSU 0 WIN 3-3 22.2 ppg 18.3 ppg +3.9 ppg
2012 Bama 21 LSU 17 WIN 4-3 22.0 ppg 18.1 ppg +3.9 ppg
2013 Bama 38 LSU 17 WIN 5-3 24.0 ppg 18.0 ppg +6.0 ppg
2014 Bama 20 LSU 17 WIN 6-3 23.5 ppg 17.9 ppg +5.6 ppg
2015 Bama 30 LSU 16 WIN 7-3 24.2 ppg 17.7ppg +6.5 ppg
The 30 points scored by the Tide is the third highest number put up by Bama over these 10 games. It’s the Tide’s second highest winning score. 30 points is more than a TD – 6.6 points to be exact – higher than Bama’s scoring average going into the game.
16 points given up to the Tigers is Bama’s fourth best scoring-defense effort overall and third fewest points allowed in a win. And if you want to get a feel for what “consistency” means, look at the last four games. Bama has allowed 17, 17, 17 and 16 points. The Tide’s scoring defense really imposed its will starting with the 6-9 loss in the defensive masterpiece of 2011. Including that struggle, LSU has scored 9, 0, 17, 17, 17 and 16 points; that’s 76 total points and an average of 12.7 ppg. Before that, LSU was averaging 25.3 ppg; since 2011, the Tigers’ scoring average has declined by 7.6 ppg, right at -30%. Bama is 5-1 over those games, including victory in the BCS title game in 2012.
Meanwhile, Bama’s scoring average has also gone down, but at a much slower rate. By 2010, the Tide’s scoring average vs. LSU was 26.5 ppg; after the 2015 game, that average is 24.2 ppg. That’s a decline of 2.3 ppg, only -8.7%. Two of the Tide’s better offensive efforts – 39 points in 2013 and 30 in 2015 – have come in the last 3 games. Now, for the first time in Coach Saban’s tenure, the average margin exceeds one TD (+6.5 ppg).
Bama’s average offensive output bottomed at 22.0 ppg in 2012 and has since been on the increase. Points allowed to LSU has declined (that is, improved) game-by-game, season-by-season since 2007. As the series progresses, the 34-41 loss in 2007 looks more and more like a profound aberration. One wonders how long it might be before we see another Bama/LSU game with a total score in the mid-70s.