It may have lost a bit of its luster when LSU lost to Florida a few weeks ago, but Saturday night's game matching the Tigers against its rival Crimson Tide of Alabama (8 p.m. ET, CBS) still means plenty in deciding the BCS finalists in January.
And spotting the Tigers 8 points, as most sportsbooks have done this week, hasn't shaken the betting public's opinion that Alabama is the nation's top team.
"We are still seeing more than 60 percent of the public backing Bama, even laying more than a touchdown against a good team within the conference," said Jack Randall of OddsShark.com.
Alabama opened this season with that dismantling of Michigan, then cruised through Western Kentucky, then began SEC play with that 52-0 drubbing of Arkansas. The Tide then rolled over Florida Atlantic, and has since won four more conference games in a row, over Ole Miss, Missouri, Tennessee and last week, previously unbeaten Mississippi State.
On the home side of this matchup, the LSU engine seems to misfiring just a bit. The Tigers opened with non-conference wins over North Texas, Washington and Idaho, but began SEC play with an underwhelming performance in a 12-10 win at Auburn.
LSU then let Towson (of FCS) stick around into the third quarter before prevailing 38-22, then lost an ugly game at Florida 14-6.
The Bayou Bengals have since beaten a banged-up South Carolina team 23-21, and two weeks ago held off Texas A&M 24-19. LSU had last week off.
So Alabama, at 5-0 in conference play, leads the SEC West by a game and a half over both the Tigers and the Bulldogs of Mississippi State.
The Tide also still tops the BCS standings, while LSU isn't dead yet, at No. 5.
In the “something's-gotta'-give” department, the Tigers are averaging 208 YPG on the ground this season, while the Tide has allowed just 57 rushing YPG.
Alabama, with its balanced offensive attack, is averaging 222 YPG through the air and 214 YPG rushing. The LSU defense, meanwhile, is giving up just 246 total YPG.
According to the Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday, Alabama should be favored by 12.5 points for this game.
These two teams, as we recall, split two games last year. LSU out-uglied Alabama in Tuscaloosa during the regular season, winning a 9-6 game in overtime, but 'Bama, with a little extra time off not having to play in the SEC championship game, then stuffed the Tigers in the BCS national championship game 21-0. We see it closer this time.
LSU vs Alabama Pick: Alabama, no doubt, is perfectly capable of pulling a repeat of last January's BCS title-game whitewash. But with the extra week off to prepare, we take the Tigers plus the points at home. (courtesy of PickShark.com)