When the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide do battle Saturday night, every mouth capable of speech will be talking about football.
How will Trent Richardson fare against the vaunted front seven of the Tigers? What kind of impact will Tyrann Mathieu make?
Does Les Miles have another trick up his sleeve? How big of a factor will home-field advantage be for the Tide?
That's all well and good, but we can wait until Saturday to start talking about that stuff.
For now, I'm going to break down the game based on pretty much every factor except the football teams.
So, without further ado, let's rock and roll.
Factor 1: Student body population
LSU comes in with 28,871 students, with almost 24,000 undergraduates. Not too shabby.
However, Alabama gets the slight edge here, boasting 31,747 students.
Factor 2: Mascot
The Bayou Bengals have one of the fiercest mascots in college sports, but can they matchup with Alabama's elephant, Big Al?
Well, yes. The fact that LSU boasts a live tiger, Mike VI, pretty much trumps every other mascot in college football. Game, set and match.
Factor 3: Age of School
Alabama was founded in 1831, making the school a hefty 180 years old, one of the oldest schools in the FBS.
LSU is 29 years younger, having been founded in 1860.
Factor 4: Academic Rankings
According to the U.S. News and World Report rankings of national universities this year, LSU came in 128th place, good for 63rd among public schools.
Meanwhile, the University of Alabama came in 79th place nationally, 34th in terms of public schools.
Factor 5: Notable Non-Sports Alumni
Alabama has some interesting alumni from outside the world of athletics. Most notable is Bernie Madoff, the billionaire hedge-fund manager who was convicted of a Ponzi Scheme that lost a lot of people a lot of money. Aside from Madoff, alumni include the voice of the New York Yankees, Mel Allen, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, and former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black.
From LSU, the list includes the band Better than Ezra, Will Wright, the creator of the computer game The Sims, U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and Bill Clinton campaign strategist James Carville.
Simply because of Madoff's wrongdoings, we have a winner.
Factor 6: Sports Alumni
Both schools have really rich history in terms of sports. As such, both LSU and Alabama boast impressive lists of former athletes.
LSU's list includes San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson, former Heisman winner Billy Cannon, NFL center Kevin Mawae, NFL Hall of Famers Jim Taylor and Y.A. Tittle, and NBA greats Pete Maravich and Shaquille O'Neal.
From Alabama, the list is just as impressive: legendary coach Bear Bryant, seven NFL Hall of Famers, including Joe Namath, Bart Starr, and Derrick Thomas and current NBA star Mo Williams.
Although LSU is stronger across multiple sports, Alabama's list of football alumni is just incredible.
Factor 7: Stadium
These schools boast two of college football's most iconic venues.
Alabama's recently-expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium holds 101,821 people within its 82-year-old walls. It is a breathtaking stadium from the outside and inside, providing great sight lines to everyone in the stadium.
However, it's hard to compete with Death Valley. Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge opened in 1924 and can seat 92,542 fans. But it's not about that. It's about the noise. It's about the purple and gold-clad fans creating a measurable earthquake from their roar.
There is no atmosphere in college football quite like Death Valley on a Saturday night.
Factor 8: Pop Culture
Alabama has the distinction of being the school of choice for the great Forrest Gump, which almost singlehandedly gives it the edge. The film Crimson Tide is about a submarine called the U.S.S. Alabama.
LSU, as mentioned, has the band Better Than Ezra, although the band doesn't sing a whole lot about their alma mater. This is an easy one.
Factor 9: Food
Whether it's Boudin, jumbalaya, pastalaya, crawfish, or gumbo, the Cajun food scene in Baton Rouge is out of this world. The Louisianans know what they're doing when it comes to food, and when it comes to tailgating, LSU fans are about as good as it gets.
Alabama, however, has something to say about that. I can cite personal experience here, as my buddies and I took a road trip last year to see the Gators play in Tuscaloosa. Not only are the people hospitable, but the barbecue is absolutely phenomenal. Though we didn't get to visit Dreamland's, Archibald's, or Nick's in the Sticks, we did get some damn good ribs.
Still, though, gotta give the edge to the Cajuns.
Factor 10: The Campus
For those counting, the score now is a tie at 4-4-1. So it all comes down to one last category—the campus.
Alabama's campus is located smack dab in the middle of Tuscaloosa, a city that was hit hard by a tornado earlier this year. But the city has responded incredibly, and campus is as alive as ever on game days. There are tons of landmarks on campus, including the famous Denny Chimes, Gorgas Library on the Quad (read as: the landmark where you will find tailgaters), a beautiful set of fraternity and sorority houses, and the classic Old South President's Mansion.
Similarly, LSU's campus is located right in Baton Rouge. Though the city was not extremely affected by Hurricane Katrina, the campus took on the challenge of housing students from New Orleans institutions and converting the basketball arena into a shelter. The crown jewel is Memorial Tower, right in the middle of campus. Other landmarks are the 5,000-year-old Indian Mounds, the Troy Middleton Library, and the beautiful Shaw Center for the Arts.
This is a really tough choice. Both campuses are unique in their own ways. This is just me, but I'm more of a fan of the Old South look. The red brick and majestic columns are more appealing than the more European-style buildings.
Overall Winner: Alabama Crimson Tide
So there you have it. I'm sure you LSU fans will have plenty to say about this, and Alabama fans can stand proud. Obviously, none of these factors have anything to do with the game on Saturday. But this is a rivalry, and it's sure fun to rile up the fans.
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