— TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Maybe the force-field that has shielded the end zone the past two times Alabama and LSU have tangled won't be quite so powerful Saturday night.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide and No. 5 Tigers have smacked right into it the past two meetings at various points on the field, reaching the end zone only once between them.
Alabama (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) especially has been forced to attempt a cascade of field goals after promising drives screeched to a halt, making either goats or heroes of the kickers.
The good news for the Tide: AJ McCarron and the offense have been far more successful this season in getting points out of trips inside the opponents' 20-yard line, or the red zone. Nearly perfect, in fact. And LSU has struggled both offensively and defensively within that portion of the field.
The bad news: LSU (7-1, 3-1) has a Top 10 defense and easily the most formidable group of running backs Alabama has faced, so neither of those trends are guaranteed to hold up.
Bama kickers Cade Foster (three misses) and Jeremy Shelley (a 49-yarder blocked) became infamous for their troubles in last November's 9-6 overtime loss to the Tigers. Shelley got redemption with five field goals in the national title game
The offense shared the blame in that regular-season meeting — or LSU's defense the credit.
Alabama had four drives inside the Tigers' 30-yard line and was pushed back with two penalties, two sacks and three negative rushing yards. Call that the Crimson zone.
"Oh, we missed a lot of opportunities and that's one thing that we've got to focus on this week, most definitely," Tide wide receiver Kevin Norwood said. "Scoring when we should and scoring when we have to and making every opportunity count."