For the first time since 2006, the passionate SEC West rivalry known as Alabama vs. LSU will not feature the coaching duel between Nick Saban and Les Miles. This slight change in the matchup could mean a world of difference this Saturday in Baton Rouge.
No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) still holds its place in the driver’s seat of the West, while No. 13 LSU (5-2, 3-1 SEC) finds itself in the middle of the West race. Coming into this week, both teams had an open week, so they are expected to be fully rested.
Since LSU let go of Les Miles and Cam Cameron back on Sept. 25, the Bayou Bengals have gone 3-0 under the watchful eye of Ed Orgeon. Is a strong “rebirth” of sorts enough for LSU to take down the top team in the land? Probably not.
Looking at who has the edge, LSU has Death Valley’s Tiger Stadium — one of the strongest home field advantages in the country. The environment is bound to be electric, but a team can only feed off of that for a certain amount of time.
Alabama has the edge in this matchup, but it’s only a slight one. The Crimson Tide offense has been explosive this year. While it currently has the 19th best total offense, it sits at 12th in rushing. That is especially due in part to quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Before the bye week, Alabama beat Texas A&M to gain control of the SEC West despite Hurts not having one of his better performances through the air. For LSU, a healthy Leonard Fournette is what makes Alabama’s advantage slim in such a rush-heavy game.
Fournette had a stellar showing against Ole Miss, running for 284 yards on 16 carries, but Alabama’s defense will not let this be an easy outing for the Tigers. The Crimson Tide’s defense is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation, with LSU trailing behind at No. 13. For Fournette, it won’t be an easy game against Alabama’s top ranked rushing defense — a unit that has only allowed 561 yards on 257 rushing attempts and three rushing touchdowns.
Alabama’s one-two-punch of an explosive offense and defense will ultimately give the Crimson Tide a slight advantage in this matchup. If recent history of the rivalry means anything, Alabama has won the last five meetings against the Tigers and leads the series 50-25-5. The win in Baton Rouge will give a strong Crimson Tide team even more confidence heading back to Tuscaloosa to host Mississippi State and will help the Crimson Tide to stay atop the rankings.
Edited by David Bradford
Featured image by Chris Parent