11/09/2013 10:02 AM
No. 13 LSU Tigers at No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Saturday at 8 p.m. ET
No rivalry in college football has had more impact on the BCS title race in the past couple of years than this one, as Nick Saban owns a 4-3 mark over Les Miles since taking over in Tuscaloosa in 2007. Last season, the Tigers outplayed the Crimson Tide for much of the second half, but Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron led a last-minute touchdown drive that kept the Tide No. 1 with a 21-17 win.
LSU has been inconsistent on both sides of the ball this year. The offense was humming along, averaging 489 yards per game the first six contests; the defense allowed three straight games of 430 or more yards. Then in back-to-back games against Florida and Ole Miss, the offense stalled.
Earlier this year, Alabama's defense struggled with Texas A&M's receivers, particularly Mike Evans, and will no doubt be tested here by arguably the best duo in the country in Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, who have combined for 1,891 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger had a 15-to-2 TD-to-INT ratio the first six games, but has slipped a bit with a 4-to-5 ratio in the past three.
While most analysts mention Baylor, Oregon and Florida State among the best offenses in the country, the Alabama offense does not get enough credit -- it is averaging 41 points per game and has shown incredible balance, averaging 211 rushing yards and 252 passing yards. McCarron now has an incredible 65-to-11 career TD-to-INT ratio, and the offensive line has gone four consecutive games without allowing a sack. On defense, it's business as usual, as the Tide have allowed only a total of two touchdowns in the past six games.
On paper, the Crimson Tide have been a much more impressive team this year than the Tigers, and shockingly have flown a little under the radar, as much of the recent talk has centered on Oregon and Florida State. After Saturday night, however, one thing will remain certain: The Crimson Tide are still the team to beat in their quest to become the first program in college football history to win four titles in five years.
Pick: Alabama 37, LSU 20