Game Day Preview: What you need to know about LSU-Alabama
The biggest game of the SEC season has finally arrived. No. 2 LSU and No. 4 Alabama will compete Saturday night with plenty of SEC and national ramifications on the line.
An LSU win means the Tigers would control their destiny to the SEC Championship Game. A loss would represent a major blow to their conference and national title hopes.
Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s rivalry game.
No. 2 LSU Tigers (7-0) at No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (CBS)
Weather: 55 degrees, 25 percent chance of rain (Weather.com)
Line: Alabama -6.5
By the numbers
0 – Alabama quarterback Jake Coker has not thrown a touchdown pass in his last two games. However, he has still completed 40 of 52 passes for 385 yards with one interception in wins over Texas A&M and Tennessee.
4 – Alabama has won four consecutive games against LSU. The streak began when Alabama defeated LSU, 21-0, in the 2011 BCS Championship Game. Alabama needed overtime to take down the Tigers last season.
28.67 – Average punt return yards per return allowed by LSU’s punt coverage team. The Tigers rank dead last in the country in that category.
Storylines to watch
Can LSU turn the Tide?
LSU has been dominated by Alabama since 2011. This game may hold the highest stakes since Alabama started the streak in the 2011 title game. LSU must prove that Nick Saban doesn’t have its number.
Will Leonard Fournette do it again?
Can Leonard Fournette run through the third-best run defense in the nation? Fournette could secure the Heisman Trophy if he can carry the Tigers to victory against Bama. He could also propel his team closer to the College Football Playoff if he can string together another legendary performance.
Can Brandon Harris win the big one?
Brandon Harris has played his best football of late entering the biggest game of his young collegiate career. Harris has been a major factor in LSU’s last three wins, but he must do it on the biggest stage of his career. Harris has not thrown an interception yet this season, but must be adverse to an opportunistic Alabama secondary. Harris hasn’t been needed to carry the offense yet this season. It could happen in this game.
Can LSU’s offensive line handle ‘Bama’s Jarran Reed and Reggie Ragland?
LSU’s offensive line has been excellent this season, but it hasn’t faced a front seven as tough as Alabama’s. The Crimson Tide will need to find a way to block menacing defensive lineman Jarran Reed, and then get to the second level and contain linebacker Reggie Ragland. That will be easier said than done for LSU’s freshman guards, Will Clapp and Maea Teuhema.
Prediction: Alabama 21, LSU 20
Like recent ones in this rivalry, this will be an especially highly-contested game. Both teams are evenly matched and eerily similar. Fournette and Henry will each get theirs, but this will come down to the quarterbacks and defensive backs. Coker is good enough to exploit an LSU coverage gaffe, and Harris cannot make his first mistake of the season against an opportunistic Alabama secondary. The Crimson Tide will win in a nail-biter.