Long considered one of the most pivotal games on the college football calendar, nearly every fan around the country is looking forward to Saturday’s contest between LSU and Alabama. SEC Country is no different. As the date approaches, our staff of writers has made its picks on who will win one of the biggest SEC games of the season.
Here’s what we’re thinking:
Alec Shirkey: Alabama
Leonard Fournette is on the fast-track to becoming a college football legend (his offensive line is pretty good, too), but even those talented men could have a tough time against a stout Alabama front seven in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Tide will come out on top in the sort of classic low-scoring, grind-it-out game we’ve seen so often between these two schools.
Dave Hooker: Alabama
Both coaches had an extra week to prepare. That should have helped Saban more than Miles. Saban is one of the game’s top tacticians. ‘Bama looked tired against Tennessee in a close win. The Tide will be rejuvenated when they face the Tigers. Of course, the X-factor is Fournette. He’s a once-in-a-generation talent that could further his legacy with a dominating performance.
Alex Martin Smith: Alabama
The Crimson Tide have played poorly at home all year. But they mopped the floor with UGA and Texas A&M in the season’s two most hyped games. Much like 2014, the Tide’s loss to Ole Miss looks more like an anomaly than a harbinger. LSU’s strongest aspect — its running game — will struggle to put up points against an elite ‘Bama “D.”
Jordan James: Alabama
It is hard to envision Alabama allowing LSU Heisman Trophy candidate Fournette to control the game. The Crimson Tide have the players on their defensive line to match up with the LSU offensive front. With two good defenses, this one will come down to quarterback play. It should be close, but at this point I trust Alabama quarterback Jake Coker’s ability to win the game more than LSU’s Brandon Harris. It also helps that Alabama is the home team.
Matt Barbato: Alabama
This game will be more of an aerial affair than many expect. The Tigers and Crimson Tide both rank in the top six nationally in stopping the run. Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry will churn yardage because they’re that good. However, this game will come down to pass defense. The Tigers have suffered a handful of coverage lapses throughout the season and have surrendered 222.1 passing yards per game. Plus their top corner, Tre’Davious White, might not be 100 percent. Alabama wins the most physical game of the college football season by a slim margin.
Scott McDonald: LSU
Both teams are well coached and have freakish talent. Miles and Saban have gone to overtime three times against oneother and played to four points or fewer two other times. Miles has been known for pulling a rabbit out of his hat during games like these. Don’t be surprised to see LSU’s special teams win this one.
Sam Spiegelman: LSU
While I find it hard to believe Alabama will lose two games this season — both at home, by the way — I can’t help but consider LSU the superior team. Given a week off to refocus and get healthy, LSU can pound the rock with Fournette and come up with a game plan for this stout Alabama defense. Additionally, how many SEC games can we say LSU actually has an edge at the quarterback position? I believe that goes in the Tigers’ favor in this one.
Grace Raynor: Alabama
The Crimson Tide certainly have a tall order in trying to contain Fournette. There’s absolutely no doubt that Fournette is a force to be reckoned with. But Alabama is hungry to snap LSU’s undefeated streak and know it can’t afford to lose two games this season. With the home crowd going nuts in Tuscaloosa, Ala. the Tide win this one.
KJ Hiramoto: Alabama
It’s hard to picture Leonard Fournette getting slowed down by any defense, given the monster season he’s had. But Alabama’s front seven is loaded with future NFL talent, so it wouldn’t be a shock if ‘Bama “contains” Fournette to fewer than 150 rushing yards. And if quarterback Coker can limit turnovers for Alabama ― which may seem like a tall order, given his struggles at home ― the Crimson Tide should come away with a win.
Kaitlin Long: Alabama
The Crimson Tide have home-field advantage and their scoring defense ranks third in the country. Yes, Fournette is one of the most talented running backs in college football, but Alabama’s defense knows how to win games. Tailback Derrick Henry will take care of the rest on offense. Alabama has dominated this series, and with the position it’s in for the College Football Playoff, the Tide won’t be backed down.
Connor Smolensky: Alabama
All the talk this week surrounds Fournette and Henry. The two are arguably the top running backs in the nation, but this one could come down to quarterback play. LSU’s Harris and Alabama’s Coker have had up-and-down seasons, and neither have much big-game experience. I give Coker the slight edge. If this game comes down to a two-minute drill–and it very well could– I want Coker leading an offense down the field over Harris.
Jordan Burton: Alabama
Saban lives for games like this, so does Alabama. The Tide will be too much with an extra week to gameplan for Fournette and will figure out how to make Harris win the game with his arm. Alabama loves playing pro-style offenses and that highly-touted front seven, led by Lombardi and Butkus Award semifinalist Reggie Ragland will be up to the task of stopping Fournette. This will also be another huge game for Henry, which could shift the balance of the Heisman Trophy talk. Tide roll and it won’t be close.
David Collier: Alabama
LSU has been impressive this season, but the Tigers leave a lot to be desired. Fournette will gain yards and make a big play or two, but to me, this one comes down to quarterback play and defense. Coker has proved he can be more of a threat than Harris, and the Crimson Tide’s defense is better. As long as Lane Kiffin keeps running the ball, Alabama will control the game throughout.