Because both teams are blessed with a bye week before their colossal showdown, college football is guaranteed a perfect matchup next Saturday when No. 1 LSU travels to Tuscaloosa to face No. 2 Alabama.
We know both the Tigers and the Tide are going to make it through this weekend unscathed, but which team has the best shot to finish the season unbeaten—provided they win next Saturday?
Both squads have “gimmes” left—Western Kentucky for LSU, Georgia Southern for Alabama—and each will face one ranked opponent after next weekend—No. 10 Arkansas for the Tigers, No. 23 Auburn for the Tide.
Alabama’s other remaining game is a disappointing Mississippi State team (3-4, 0-4 SEC), while LSU plays an equally disappointing Mississippi squad (2-5, 0-4 SEC).
After breaking down the remaining schedules, it's advantage Alabama.
The “gimmes” are in the book for both as long as they show up at the stadium that day, and neither Mississippi school poses a problem for the top two teams in the country.
That of course leaves Auburn and Arkansas, and the Tigers are nowhere near as good as the Hogs this season.
The Razorbacks defeated Auburn earlier this year 38-14 and beat No. 16 Texas A&M. Their only loss came against Alabama.
The Tigers, on the other hand, have struggled most of the season without Cam Newton under center. Gene Chizik’s squad barely beat Utah State and Mississippi State to start the season, and they were throttled last weekend by LSU.
Which team wins next weekend?
Although Auburn will be playing “up” because it’s the Iron Bowl, Alabama should be a deserved double-digit favorite for their matchup at season’s end.
LSU plays Arkansas at home, but the Razorbacks should be 10-1 and fighting for a spot in the BCS when they travel to Death Valley. Auburn will be lucky if they're 8-3 by that point in the season.
One last thing to think about is that the winner of next week’s game still has to play for the SEC Championship before all is said and done.
It’s never easy winning 12 games in a season, let alone 13.
With that in mind, it’s still possible that neither team finishes perfect.