Alabama has had a bye week to rest, recuperate and work on fundamentals. Now, it can finally look ahead to a matchup with a team that has become one of its biggest rivals: LSU.
The Nov. 9 contest has loomed large ever since Alabama’s 49-42 win over Texas A&M in September. Since this time, LSU has lost a pair of road games in the SEC that has taken a little bit of the national hype out of the game, but as these teams have shown time and time again, Saturday's contests should be a game to remember.
But for the No. 1 Crimson Tide, this game represents their first true test against a Top 25 team since going on the road to College Station. It is one of the few games on the schedule that you can look at and think that Alabama has a chance to lose and potentially end its bid for a third-straight BCS National Championship and fourth in five years.
Here are three reasons why LSU will and won’t end Alabama’s dream season.
Will: Zach Mettenberger
Mettenberger is having a stellar senior season and is the second-leading passer in the SEC in terms of passing yards and passer rating.
The man in first? Of course, it’s Johnny Manziel, who lit up the Tide for 464 passing yards and five touchdowns earlier in the season.
Mettenberger is not the magician that Manziel is (nobody is), but he did go for 298 yards and a score in the teams’ last meeting in Tiger Stadium. He has the poise and leadership to stand in the pocket and deliver sharp, crisp throws against one of the best defenses in the nation.
Won’t: Tide Learns From Last Year
Alabama and LSU were in similar positions last season. The Tide were riding an undefeated season, while LSU had dropped a game to Florida that largely knocked it out of the national title picture.
The Tide had a few chances to put the Tigers away, but couldn’t capitalize and instead needed a last-second drive to win. You’d have to think that Alabama will want to finish off LSU as early as it can and not get comfortable.
Will: Cornerback Still a Concern
Deion Belue has taken a firm hold on the first cornerback spot, but the other one might as well be a revolving door.
John Fulton, Cyrus Jones, Bradley Sylve and Eddie Jackson have all started there this season. Saban said on Tuesday that Sylve and Jones would likely battle for the starting job for Saturday’s game.
LSU’s Odell Beckham has caught 48 passes for 1,009 yards and eight touchdowns, while Jarvis Landry has grabbed 58 for 882 yards and eight touchdowns.
LSU boasts two receivers capable of making big plays, so Alabama will need to have two lockdown corners on the field.
Won’t: Alabama Absolutely Dominant Lately
It seems crazy to say, but this might be Nick Saban’s best team yet. It may not be his most talented, but he has the Tide playing at such a high level, despite numerous off-field issues.
The offensive line and the defense had a few hiccups early on, but they have both come together to become a complete team.
Alabama has obliterated its last five opponents by a combined score of 246-26 and don’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
Will: Les Miles Has Nothing To Lose
Whether it’s a fake field goal against Florida or a double-reverse against Alabama, Les Miles is absolutely unpredictable with the game on the line.
Last season, that worked against him. A fake field goal, surprise onside kick and a fourth-down attempt all went in Alabama’s favor, and the Crimson Tide won.
But Miles is sure to have tricks up his sleeve when he comes to Tuscaloosa on Saturday.
Won’t: AJ McCarron
AJ McCarron’s last two games against LSU have been nothing short of dominant.
In the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, McCarron went 23-of-34 for 234 yards to lead Alabama to victory. Last year, he was 14-of-27 for 165 yards and a touchdown. He also didn’t throw an interception in either game.
But outside of his raw numbers, McCarron provides the leadership necessary to win these types of games, as he proved on an improbable game-winning drive in Death Valley last year.
With McCarron at the helm, Alabama will have one of the best quarterbacks in college football, who has plenty of experience taking down the Tigers.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and attributions were obtained first hand.