And they meet again.
The LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide will square off for the third time in two years when Nick Saban and company put their undefeated record on the line in Tiger Stadium.
Despite the Tigers losing earlier in the year, LSU remains a Top Five team in the BCS rankings. And the Tigers could once again start thinking about a national championship if they manages to squeeze out a victory.
This annual matchup has turned into a rivalry between two SEC powerhouses, and six of the last eight meetings have been decided by single digits. The SEC West title is on the line in this matchup, and the national championship picture will be that much clearer at the end of the contest.
Here are five things that must go right for either one of these teams to earn such an important victory this Saturday.
Quick question: Who are the top two teams in the SEC that have allowed the fewest big plays?
If you said Alabama and LSU, you are a winner.
Alabama has only allowed 52 plays of over 10 yards, while LSU has allowed 68—which is at least 10 fewer than the rest of conference. The problem is that both offenses are averaging close to five plays a game that go over 20 yards, which isn't spectacular, but enough for a head coach to take notice.
In a game that will likely be decided on the defensive side of the ball, the team that allows the fewest big plays will likely win the game.
Don't miss tackles, prevent big runs after the catch and simply play fundamentally sound football.
Let the offenses make the mistakes as you prevent the chunk plays that turn into big gains.
Speaking of mistakes, turnovers are always the key in a big game. Since 2004, the winner of the turnover battle is 5-1-3 in the meeting between these two teams.
And while there have been a combined 44 turnovers forced between these two clubs in the first eight games, they have both had issues at times holding onto the football.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron has yet to throw an interception. But there has been at least one fumble lost on this team in five of the first eight games.
However, LSU has been much more careless with the football, coughing it up a combined nine times in the last five games. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has thrown two interceptions in the red zone, and there have been eight fumbles from this Tigers team.
History has shown that if you hold onto the football, you have a great chance of winning the ballgame. Both teams must do a better job this weekend of practicing ball security if a victory is on the agenda in Week 10.
Considering the Crimson Tide average 40 points a contest and LSU averages 31, you would probably think both teams do a solid job once they move the ball inside the 20-yard line.
Alabama scores 97 percent of the time it enters the red zone, which is the best in the SEC. However LSU is scoring less than 80 percent of the time. It gets worse when you break down the red-zone touchdowns for the Tigers, as only 16 touchdowns have been scored out of 34 attempts—less than 50 percent of the time.
What makes things even more interesting is that LSU has allowed 13 touchdowns on 17 red-zone trips by its opponents. Alabama, on the other hand, is terrific at defending the red zone, as teams only score 53 percent of the time—and 13 percent of that results in a lousy field goal.
LSU has to improve inside the 20-yard line, while Alabama must continue the great work. Whichever team can figure things out will improve its chances to leave this matchup victorious.
Well, actually, everybody related to the college football world knows what both teams want to do when it comes to this matchup. Establishing the running game has quickly become the trademark of this conference, and it will be no different when these two teams meet on Saturday.
The team that has rushed for the most yards in this meeting has gone on to win nine of the last 13 meetings.
It is pretty clear what the key is to this matchup, especially when both teams are ranked in the Top 25 in the country when it comes to the ground game.
Alabama is averaging well over five yards a carry and hasn't been held to under 100 rushing yards since the first meeting against LSU last season. Meanwhile, the only two losses for LSU since the 2011 season were when the team was held to under 100 yards on the ground.
I'll go out on a limb and say that whichever team racks up the rushing yards will win this contest.
Remember how last year’s meeting was considered the "Game of the Century"? You would have thought you were going to witness a game that you could tell your grandchildren about one day. Something you had to DVR and watch every offseason when there was no college football to keep you occupied.
The truth is that the game was forgettable; there were many mistakes, and both teams came out sluggish and tense.
This season, there isn't nearly as much hype, but LSU has revenge on its mind, as the Tigers haven't been able to remove last year’s national championship loss from their brain.
I'm not saying that both teams shouldn't come out fired up, but they shouldn't get so crazy to where they can't focus on the task at hand.
The media blows things up and makes things bigger than they really are. Of course, this is a big game, and it will determine who comes out of the SEC West. But stick to the game plan, don't get stupid on your teammates and just play your style of football.
Everything else will fall in place for the team that is able to focus on the game and not everything else that comes with it.