The annual November clash between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers is a matchup that is likely circled on the schedule of every college football fan before each season.
In the age of spread offense and fast-paced attacks, this SEC West rivalry offers a return to old-fashioned power football, and in recent memory, the game has had national title implications almost every year.
The 2015 edition of Alabama-LSU will be no different. In fact, the winner of the game on Saturday evening will almost certainly have a spot in the 2015 College Football Playoff.
LSU will come into Bryant-Denny Stadium as the No. 4 team in the country, featuring a perfect record and led by Heisman Trophy front-runner Leonard Fournette. The signature wins for the Tigers this year have come in the season opener against the Mississippi State Bulldogs and a victory against Flordia, thanks to a classic Les Miles fake field goal.
LSU controls its own destiny on both the SEC and national stages, and the showdown against the Crimson Tide will serve as the main major roadblock on the way to an undefeated regular season.
The rushing attack for LSU has been dominant all season, as has the defense. But the Tigers developed into a more complete team in the past few weeks thanks to the emergence of starting quarterback Brandon Harris.
Harris was ineffective to start the season and as a result, defenses were able to load the box against the running game—not that it made much a difference against Fournette. But Harris really looks to have come into his own in the previous three contests, throwing for over 200 yards in each game and with seven passing touchdown and zero interceptions in the process.
The Tigers will need Harris to continue his strong play against the Crimson Tide. Alabama’s rush defense has been the best in the country this season and has held elite running backs such as Arkansas’ Alex Collins and Georgia’s Nick Chubb from being too effective. Obviously Fournette presents an even greater challenge, but LSU will struggle to score against Alabama with a one-dimensional offense.
Alabama has one blemish on an otherwise perfect season, a 43-37 home loss to the Ole Miss Rebels in the third game of the season. Because of that loss, the Crimson Tide still need help to regain their own destiny in the SEC West, despite being ranked No. 7 in the country.
But, if the Rebels drop another SEC game in their final four contests, Alabama will also have the opportunity to win out and be guaranteed its own spot in the playoff. Even as a one loss team, there’s no way the committee could leave out an SEC Champion that has gone through the schedule Alabama has had to endure this season.
A third win over a top-10 team would only strengthen the Tide’s already impressive resumé.
For both teams, Saturday’s matchup could serve as the final high-profile matchup of the 2015 season and the biggest obstacle between each team and a place in the final four. Alabama and LSU both face one more ranked opponent this season. The Tigers will face Ole Miss on the penultimate game of the regular season while Alabama will travel to Starkville to take on Mississippi State on November 14.
Everything will be on the line for Alabama and LSU on Saturday night, and this rivalry is set to produce yet another instant classic.