Unless it’s No. 1 vs. No. 2, college football games don’t get much bigger than this.
After No. 1 ranked Alabama proved their mettle on Saturday by thrashing previously undefeated Mississippi State, they face an even stiffer test in Week 10 of the college football season.
LSU may have already picked up their first loss of the season, but this is still one of the elite teams in the country. When two top teams from the SEC clash—especially late in the season—the game is sure to have national championship implications.
This game is no exception.
If No. 5 LSU can knock off Alabama, they could make a strong case that they should leap past Oregon and Notre Dame into one of the top two spots in the country.
How far would a loss drop Bama?
That's just one of the exciting and intriguing scenarios that come with analyzing this game.
Here’s how you can watch the answers unfold.
When: Saturday, November 3, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Live Stream: SEC Network (Pay Service)
Radio: AM 790 in Tuscaloosa, WDGL-FM ("The Eagle 98.1") in Baton Rouge
Odds: Alabama (-8) per Oddsshark
Alabama Crimson Tide
Chris Black—WR—Out For Season (shoulder)
Jalson Fowler—RB—Out For Season (knee)
Dee Hart—RB—Out For Season (knee)
DeAndrew White—WR—Out For Season (knee)
Jarrick Williams—DB—Out For Season (knee)
Kwon Alexander—LB—Out For Season (ankle)
Alfred Blue—RB—Out Indefinitely (knee)
Chris Faulk—LT—Out For Season (knee)
Alex Hurst—RT—Out Indefinitely (personal)
Tahj Jones—LB—Out For Season (academics)
Tyrann Mathieu—CB—Out For Season (disciplinary)
Josh Williford—RG—Questionable November 3 (head)
This game will determine SEC supremacy, which in most cases decides some portion of national supremacy.
LSU has been impressive since they lost to then No. 10 Florida 14-6 on October 6.
They have ascended to No. 5 in the nation, and even though they are at home, beating the Tide would be the biggest win any team has captured in college football this season.
It would be the Tigers third-straight win against a ranked SEC opponent. There's a case that they should at least be No. 2 in the nation if they win.
A win could be just as definitive for Alabama.
If they go into Baton Rouge and win, they will have all but stamped their ticket to the BCS title game.
The win would be so impressive that I could see the Tide having the room to drop a game in the regular season or in the SEC title game, and still earning the right to play for the national championship.
As if we needed any more conformation as to how big this game is, 'Around the SEC' tweets the location of ESPN College GameDay this week:
'Pride of the Tide' tweeted these statistically backed bragging rights about the Tide's success at Tiger Stadium:
PrideOfTheTide.com (@PrideOfTheTide) October 29, 2012
There's no denying the Tide have shown the ability to win in the most hostile environments. No team should intimidate them with success like that in Baton Rouge.
Bama WR Kevin Norwood needs to add a class to his current course workload. It should be called: Seeing the Big Picture 101. Britton Lynn of Fox Alabama quoted him in a tweet:
Britton Lynn (@BrittonLynn) October 29, 2012
That's like saying I'd rather date the best looking girl in my history class, as opposed to the best looking girl in the entire school.
Come on, think big Kev.
Tide head coach Nick Saban talked about his team's familiarity with LSU. This is the third time the two teams will have met in a year.
They split the two meetings last year, though the Tide won the only one that really mattered by capturing the BCS championship. Saban said this in his official news conference posted on RollTide.com:
I think anytime you play somebody in your division or in your conference and you play them every year you sort of develop a history of (the things that they like to do),
You feel like you can do a little better job in preparation, because you have that knowledge and experience, going in to what you have to do.
Just about every time these guys have played us, they do something a little different. So, you also have to be prepared to adjust in the game as well.
I'm not sure what LSU has in mind for this game, but finding a way to score against this nasty Tide defense is perhaps the most daunting college football task in the country.
LSU's issues are compounded because they've had some problems scoring in spots this season.
We'll see if Les Miles has some tricks up his sleeve.
Do you want to get hyped for this game? OK, chances are you probably already are, but do you want to go even higher?
Check out this epic trailer (yes, I said trailer) for Bama-LSU from LesMiles.net.
This is good stuff:
Tigers' safety Eric Reid reflects on LSU's BCS championship defeat, and looks ahead to Saturday's showdown, per Jim Kleinpeter of Nola.com:
Initially I can say I felt that. Just saying that name. . . that game. They had beaten us in the big one. But you can't dwell on that. You have to look at this as a fresh new start. If we want to get back to the big one, we have to go through them. We still have scars from it but we're moving on from it.
Reid's maturity level and perspective is the perfect approach to this game.
The Tigers must carry just enough angst from their defeat in last year's final game, but they must balance that with the poise to understand that this is a different game.
Tide's Key Player(s): Cyrus Kouandjio and D.J. Fluker
Both of the Tide's tackles are big bulky maulers, and there's a chance they could struggle to contain the beast that is Barkevious Mingo.
He can line up on either side of the defensive line, but Kouandjio should see the most of him in pass situations. Fluker has struggled against speed rushers this season, so it's possible Miles may try to get Mingo matched with him more often.
If Mingo has a significant impact on this game, it could really swing things in the Tigers' favor.
Tigers' Key Player: Zach Mettenberger
The 6'5" junior QB hasn't been spectacular this season. He hasn't once thrown for 300 yards, and he's tossed more than one touchdown pass only twice this season.
The Tigers don't ask him to be Geno Smith, but he'll need to step outside of his box in this one.
Mettenberger is the epitome of a game-manager, but if LSU is going to win this game, he's going to have to make a few plays.
Be it on a few unsuspecting scrambles (as he is not very fleet of foot), or on a few key third-down conversions, Mettenberger needs to take some pressure off his running game and defense.
This is possibly the only team in the country whose defense is as good or better than LSU's.
They can't beat the Tide by simply trying to outlast them in an ugly battle of field position. The junior has to step up and lead his team in some key situations.
Who wins this epic SEC clash?
This is always a difficult matchup to predict, but I have to go with the Tide—even on the road.
This team should have tremendous confidence they can win away from Tuscaloosa, and when two stout defenses clash, the team with the best offense often comes out on top.
That is clearly the Tide.
Not only do they have the nation's stingiest defense, but the team is scoring 40.6 points per game, which is 11th in the nation.
They will make it two in a row over LSU with a convincing 24-7 win in Baton Rouge.
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