No. 1 Alabama will host No. 13 LSU on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa in a meeting between two traditional SEC West heavyweights in a game that has major ramifications in the national and division title races.
Both teams will get the luxury of having two weeks to prepare for the showdown.
Who will benefit more from the extra time?
In theory, that should benefit Alabama more than LSU, considering Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban is 18-5 at Alabama with more than a week to prepare for an opponent. Included in that record is the 21-0 victory over LSU in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game following the 2011 season.
But LSU needed the bye week more this time around and will benefit more from the extra time to prepare than the Crimson Tide.
This game is on an island for the Tigers.
After nine straight games to start the season, the meeting with the Tide is sandwiched between two bye weeks, which not only gives Miles a chance to give his team a break to recharge the batteries, but the luxury of having plenty of time to recover from what's typically one of the most physical games of the year.
A physical matchup is what this game always turns into, and that pleases Saban.
"I like this kind of football," Saban said. "I guess this is more like the kind of football that we grew up with in terms of a team has two-back runs, which you hardly see anymore. It's one of the most effective ways to play football."
That's exactly why LSU's first bye week of the year couldn't have come at a better time.
The Tigers' offense has failed to gain 400 total yards in each of its last two SEC games—a win over Florida on Oct. 12 and the loss to Ole Miss on Oct. 19. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw four touchdowns and five interceptions over the last two games, and running back Jeremy Hill only rushed for 64 yards in the loss to the Rebels.
The Tigers needed a break.
They've been outscored 26-20 in the first half over the last two games, and head coach Les Miles knows he can't afford a slow start this week.
"We're going to have to get our offense in gear and play well from the start," Miles said. "It's going to take four quarters."
Despite LSU's recent struggles on offense, Saban knows just how explosive this Tiger offense can be.
"I think that Zach has played extremely well all year long," Saban said. "He makes great decisions. He played extremely well against us last year. I think they have a very good running game, their offensive line is physical and very good receivers. They really have very good receivers, two guys that are good of receivers that you're ever going to play against."
Those two receivers are juniors Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., who have combined for 1,891 yards. That's more than five SEC programs have thrown for all season.
"Those guys are very difficult to cover, which I think is what makes a great receiver," Saban said. "They both have great hands, good focus and concentration, and they've got a well-conceived passing game."
While LSU needed a week off, the bye week interrupted Alabama while it was on a roll.
The Crimson Tide outscored their opponents 190-20 over the four games played during the month of October and have vaulted to the top of the SEC heap in total defense (180.9 YPG) and scoring defense (9.8 PPG).
Alabama has momentum, it just needs to keep it going. LSU doesn't, and in order to topple the Tide, needs to get it back.
Not exactly the easiest thing to do against the top team in college football.
*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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