Extra rest helps to beat the best.
LSU will not play on Saturday for the first time since late August's opener against TCU. It could not come at a better time for the Tigers, as the team will lick its wounds before facing off against No. 1 Alabama.
Recent history shows the bye week could be the difference for the Tigers when they face the Crimson Tide.
Since 2007, the two schools have squared off six times in regular-season games. Both teams have won three times.
All six of those games were physical battles decided by an average of just over five points. Endurance is critical in late in close games.
|Year||Result||LSU Off Bye||Alabama Off Bye|
|2008||27-21 (OT), Alabama|
|2011||9-6 (OT), LSU||✔||✔|
LSU came off a bye week in four of the six games, three of which resulted in victory. The Tigers' only loss against 'Bama after a bye came last season, a game in which the Tigers led with less than two minutes remaining. The other two losses came when LSU did not have a bye.
Alabama has come off a bye week to play LSU in every matchup except in 2008. The Crimson Tide were still able to win the game.
LSU had to travel to Tuscaloosa after playing the week before and lost 24-15 in 2009. This was the only matchup in which one team was off a bye while the other was was not.
Former LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard told me the week after the game he felt the Crimson Tide's extra week of rest and preparation played a key role late in the game. The Tigers suffered setbacks and injuries throughout the course of the game, most notably cornerback Patrick Peterson. When Peterson sat out for a play, Alabama receiver Julio Jones raced for a 73-yard touchdown.
An extra week of rest will not ultimately win the game for either team in early November. But LSU against Alabama is an annual battle of the brutes. The game is best served when both teams when are as rested as possible.
This season is even more critical than years past. LSU is not as deep at nearly every position. The Tigers need the extra week to prepare mentally and physically after the gauntlet the young team has faced thus far.
LSU against Alabama has been the game of the year in college football the past two seasons. The bye weeks have turned it into an annual two-week build-up between two of the sport's superpowers.
There is a reason why this season will be the fourth in a row both teams will be coming off a bye week. Les Miles and Nick Saban would rather their players have maximum rest and preparation before facing each other. Next season will be the fifth.
And it shouldn't be any other way.