One of the more bitter rivalries in the SEC, if not the country, will add another installment when No. 2 Alabama plays host to LSU on Saturday. Both the Crimson Tide and Tigers were idle last week, meaning that they should have had plenty of chances to dissect each other and, perhaps more importantly, self-scout prior to a critical SEC West matchup.
The Crimson Tide are squarely in the mix for the College Football Playoff but have no margin for error after the loss at Texas A&M last month. Quarterback Bryce Young has led a dynamic offense and inserted himself into the race for the Heisman Trophy.
LSU, on the other hand, has a lame duck coach and a banged-up roster, but playing the spoiler against the mighty Tide would be a great way to send off coach Ed Orgeron.
Let's break down the game and make picks straight up and against the spread.
Alabama vs. LSU: Need to know
Get right, defense: Alabama's defense hasn't been as steady as many expected going into the season, and it's coming off a rather pedestrian performance against Tennessee. The Crimson Tide gave up 6.31 yards per play and its secondary gave up a whopping 10.1 passing yards per attempt two weeks ago -- the first time all season that it has given up double digits in yards per attempt. That has fans in T-town troubled. Pete Golding hasn't exactly been a superstar at defensive coordinator, and Saturday is a perfect attempt to get back in their good graces for the stretch run. LSU quarterback Max Johnson is second in the SEC in passing touchdowns with 20, so those cornerbacks better be on their toes.
Run the dang ball: LSU's running game seemingly got back on track in mid-October when the Tigers rushed for 147 yards at Kentucky and a whopping 321 vs. Florida. However, they managed just 77 (2.2 yards per attempt) in the loss at Ole Miss. Yes ... the same Ole Miss that is next-to-last in the conference in rushing defense. Tyrion Davis-Price has to get this attack going because the last thing that Orgeron and the Tigers defense need is to see Young on the field leading that Tide offense up and down the field.
Heisman pressure: The bye week allowed Young to decompress, at least a little bit, after his first two months as a starting quarterback in college football. Coach Nick Saban preaches sticking to "the process," but it's only natural to at least let your mind stray when you have free time on your hands. Did Young do that? If he did, he'd hear all about being one of the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy, which could create a distraction as the Crimson Tide head down the stretch run. It's not likely, but you never know in this day and age.
How to watch Alabama vs. LSU live
Date: Saturday, Nov. 6 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Bryant-Denny Stadium -- Tuscaloosa, Alabama
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Alabama vs. LSU prediction, picks
Alabama will win handily, but oddsmakers are giving LSU four touchdowns. That's insane. Johnson will make at least a few big plays through the air to get the Tigers in the high teens or low 20s. At that point, it's all about when Saban will take his foot off of the gas. He'll do that long before it gets to be a four-touchdown game. Prediction: LSU (+28.5)
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