Bama vs. LSU – Series Scoring and Scoring Defense through the 2015 Game

The Notorious PAB is back with a pretty cool look at the Alabama v LSU series updated with Saturday’s result…enjoy!

Prologue

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.

Introduction

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.”

Musical aside

“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

Results breakdown

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.

Overall

  • Bama: 7 – 3 (70.0 %)                      LSU:  3 – 7 (30.0%)

By venue 

  • 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.

Points scored

  • 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)

Points allowed

  • 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

Point differences

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

Observations

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.

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2 comments on “Bama vs. LSU – Series Scoring and Scoring Defense through the 2015 Game

  1. Steve Latham says:

    Great stuff … you know al.com used to have a weekly article that discussed Alabama’s national statistical rankings. I think they stopped doing it but twisting the numbers up is awesome to read. I’d love to see that weekly as well. You rock!

    Like

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