LSU vs Alabama: Stage set for another classic in Tuscaloosa


Four years after one of the greatest college football games in recent memory, the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide are on a collision course for another classic in Tuscaloosa.

On November 5th, 2011, the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide met in Tuscaloosa in a showdown for the ages. Four years later, the stage has been set for another all-time classic.

The 2011 meeting involved an astronomical level of hype.

No. 1 LSU traveled on the road to face No. 2 Alabama at famed Bryant-Denny Stadium, in a contest that was dubbed “The Game of the Century” at the time. Many media outlets had deemed the game an unofficial playoff for a trip to the BCS National Championship, and there was little doubt that the two best teams in college football were meeting on the field that day.

While the game did not quite live up to its billing, it certainly did not disappoint. It was a back-and-forth contest that saw just 15 total points scored, with not a single touchdown all night long. The game was undoubtedly among the most suspenseful showdowns that the SEC had seen since the turn of the century, and was arguably the greatest game in all of college football that year.

Led by a stout defense and aided by four missed field goals on the part of Alabama, LSU pulled out a thrilling 9-6 victory in overtime that set the stage for a rematch in the BCS National Championship Game. The Crimson Tide handed the Tigers an embarrassing 21-0 defeat in the national title game, but that did not discredit the legendary matchup from earlier that season.

Four years later, LSU and Alabama are on a collision course for another early November showdown with major national title implications.

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Assuming the Crimson Tide pull out a victory at home over the bumbling Tennessee Volunteers, and the Tigers take care of business against the outmatched Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Saturday, Alabama and LSU will meet on November 7th in a game that in all likelihood will determine the SEC West division champion.

Given the struggles of the SEC East, the winner of the west will be the unquestioned favorite to claim the conference title in Atlanta, with a win in that game essentially locking up a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Despite the endless love for the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes, the inconsistent TCU Horned Frogs and the overhyped Utah Utes, there is little arguing that when it comes to physical, between-the-tackles football, nobody is more dominant than LSU and Alabama.

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The Tigers feature the clearcut Heisman Trophy frontrunner in Leonard Fournette. The Crimson Tide boast potentially his greatest competition in Derrick Henry. Fournette is the nation’s leading rusher with 1,202 yards, while Henry ranks seventh with 901 rushing yards on the year.

Both players have exposed opposing defenses all season long, and both have talented offensive lines that make it difficult not to succeed. The two teams also feature tremendous defensive fronts that will pose the biggest threats that either player will see all season long.

Alabama has the No. 3 run defense in the country, giving up an impressive 70.9 yards per game. LSU is not far behind, with their 92.2 rushing yards allowed per game ranking eighth in the nation.

If current voting trends continue, it is unlikely that both teams will rank in the top-5 of the polls when November 7th rolls around. LSU is currently the unanimous No. 5 team in the country, and Alabama ranks at No. 8 in both major polls. Without major upsets at the top, the Crimson Tide simply have no chance to jump several undefeated teams and into the top-5 in the next two weeks, and the Tigers will likely remain stagnant in the rankings as well.

But make no mistake, this year’s showdown between LSU and Alabama is setting up to be one of the greatest that the SEC has seen in recent memory, and without a doubt one of the best of the 2015 college football season.

Expect the winner to entrench themselves in the College Football Playoff picture. And with some luck, the loser just might find a chance at redemption as well.