LSU coach Brian Kelly finally got over the hump against Nick Saban and Alabama during Kelly's debut season with the Tigers in 2022. LSU's 32-31 overtime win against the Crimson Tide at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last November marked Kelly's first triumph against Saban in three attempts, and it's an experience he still relishes.
Speaking to LSU supporters on Tuesday at the Touchdown Club of Houston, the second-year Tigers coach didn't hold back regarding the satisfaction accompanying his long-awaited victory over Saban and the Tide.
"I love the environment of a college stadium," Kelly told the Touchdown Club, per The Houston Chronicle. "I love coming out on that field. I love beating Alabama."
LSU's win against Saban and Co. in 2022 was its first victory in the series between the SEC West foes since 2019 and its first on home turf against the Tide since 2010. The outcome was pivotal in both the SEC West and College Football Playoff races, as LSU won the division and Alabama eventually missed the playoff field, landing at No. 5 in the final College Football Playoff Rankings.
Kelly, who led Notre Dame from 2010-21 before taking the LSU job, squared off against Saban and Alabama in both the BCS National Championship following the 2012 season and later the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Rose Bowl -- which was relocated to Arlington, Texas, amid the COVID-19 pandemic -- following the 2020 season. The Fighting Irish fell in both of those games by double digits.
It's not the first time Kelly has vocalized his longing to topple Saban and Alabama since taking the LSU job. Kelly made it known last spring that it was a top goal entering his tenure in Baton Rouge, and perhaps even influenced his decision to accept the LSU job in late 2021.
"I want to beat Nick Saban," Kelly told the Varsity House Podcast. "Who doesn't want to beat Nick Saban? You know what I mean? I want to play him in the regular season. I mean, that's the standard, right? Now, he's a conference opponent."
Kelly has the opportunity to move to 2-0 against the Tide as an SEC coach come Nov. 4 when the Tigers square off against Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Two of LSU's last three wins in the series have come on the road, first in 2011 and then again in 2019.
Saban, who coached at LSU from 2000-04 before later taking the Alabama job in 2007 after an NFL stint, is 12-5 against his former school. The Tide have only lost consecutive matchups against the Tigers once during Saban's tenure (2010-11).
LSU kicks off Year 2 of the Kelly era Sept. 3 in Orlando when the Tigers face Florida State. It's the second straight year in which the programs have met for a Week 1 neutral-site game, with the Seminoles defeating the Tigers last Labor Day Weekend in New Orleans.