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Friday, November 2, 2012
Statistical breakdown: LSU-Alabama

By Alex Scarborough and ESPN Stats and Information

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- With No. 1 Alabama's matchup against LSU on the horizon, let's take a look at the two schools with a fine-tooth comb.

With the help of the ESPN Stats and Information Department, we broke three keys to the game:

1. Running wild

Note: Alabama and LSU are not just run-oriented defenses. The schools rank 1-2 in the country in pass efficiency defense in addition to having top-10 defenses in terms of stopping the rush.

Note: Alabama is averaging 6.0 yards per carry on designed running plays this season, with 4.4 yards coming before contact with a defender. The Tide have made it at least 5 yards past the line of scrimmage without being touched on 35.6 percent of their designed runs, including 41.9 percent of T.J. Yeldon's carries.

The Tide are at their best in the fourth quarter, during which they average an SEC-best 6.2 yards per rush, with 4.7 yards before contact. The two other SEC teams in the last nine seasons to average at least six yards per rush in the fourth quarter of conference games were Alabama in 2011 and Florida in 2008. Both won the BCS National Championship.

2. Comparing the QBs

Note: Mettenberger completed 78.6 percent of his passes thrown 15 yards or longer in his first three games of the season. Once SEC play began, he has not been as sharp, completing 16.7 percent of his 15-yard throws in four conference games. LSU has four touchdown drives of 75 yards or longer, tied for the second fewest in FBS. The Tigers have no such drives in its four conference games.

Note: McCarron is completing 72.2 percent of his passes thrown 25 yards or longer this season, an increase of more than 40 percentage points from last season. Play action has been the key. McCarron is completing 87.5 percent of his 25-yard passes off play action this season, including all four of his touchdowns.

3. Comparing the defenses

Note: Alabama leads college football with 125 points scored off turnovers this season. LSU has allowed 40 points off turnovers this season, 18 more than they allowed all of last season.