In each of the last several years, the highly anticipated meeting between Alabama and LSU has carried massive BCS implications. In the final year of the system before we move to the College Football Playoff, that holds true once again.
LSU already has two losses on the year, but still has both the Crimson Tide and Texas A&M on its 2013 schedule. A win in the enemy territory of Tuscaloosa would throw the Tigers firmly back into the mix of the SEC West.
As for Alabama, the situation remains the same for coach Nick Saban and co. this year: keep winning, and it’s another trip to the BCS title game. A loss, and everything is up in the air.
The Tide has looked unbeatable this season, but LSU has the type of talent to push Alabama.
Can the Tigers actually roll into Bryant-Denny Stadium and leave with a win?
It certainly won’t be easy. We would say that LSU would have an advantage, as it is coming off a bye week. However, Alabama also spent the tenth weekend of the 2013 season watching games from home, so both teams will be entering Week 11 as healthy as a team can expect to be this late in the season.
If LSU is going to win for the 26th time since these two teams first met in 1895, quarterback Zack Mettenberger is going to have quite a bit to do with it. After struggling through his first year in Baton Rouge in 2012, the former Georgia and JUCO player has starred as a senior. He boasts 2,492 passing yards on a 65.4 completion percentage, along with 19 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
But here’s the kicker: of those seven interceptions, three came during a surprising upset loss to Ole Miss. He can be rattled, and obviously if any defense is good enough to cause him problems, it is Alabama’s.
The bye week may have given Saban the chance to get his defensive backfield straightened out following the loss of starting safety Vinnie Sunseri to a torn knee ligament. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is back in the lineup, which helps to spell the absence of Suneri. Clinton-Dix, along with Deion Belue and the rest of the secondary, will have the task of covering one of the league’s most dynamic receiving duos in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.
The two have each scored eight touchdowns, meaning 16 of Mettenberger’s 19 touchdown passes have gone to those two receivers.
Can Alabama stop Landry and Beckham Jr.? If so, will linebacker C.J. Mosley and the rest of the Tide front seven stop star running back Jeremy Hill? Despite sitting out the first game of the year with a suspension, Hill has still managed to rack up 922 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Weighing heavily in Alabama’s favor is their ability to win in different situations. If Hill, Mettenberger and the LSU offense get rolling, the Tide has proven that it can hang in a shootout.
Once again, quarterback A.J. McCarron has his team at the top of the national polls. Once again, he is not being considered as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. Putting up spectacular numbers against a ferociously talented LSU defensive front won’t be easy, but he has extremely talented players in Amari Cooper, Kevin Norwood and DeAndrew White to turn too. Star running back TJ Yeldon will also be leaned on to push the defense back and give McCarron more time to find his wideouts.
Another factor weighing in Alabama’s favor is an 8:00 p.m. ET kickoff at home. Not only will the Tigers have to beat the No. 1 team in the country on the road, but they’ll have to do it in front of one of the rowdiest environments in America.
On paper, it appears that the Tide will once again roll. However, as we all know, both teams still have to play the game.
We don’t know what the final outcome is going to be, but perhaps you do. It’s time to settle it!