Once again, LSU and Alabama clash for the right to control their own destiny in the SEC West. The winner of this game will not only jump to first place in the SEC West standings, but also keeps their College Football Playoff hopes alive in this top ten showdown.
Since Nick Saban has taken over at Alabama, the LSU/Alabama game has become a top game to watch consistently throughout the last 15 seasons. Saban, who helped lead LSU to the 2003 National Championship, goes back to a very familiar place of his where he was the head coach from 2000-2004.
Saban, who is highly regarded as the greatest coach in college football history with seven national championships, has owned his former team in this rivalry holding a 12-4 advantage. Overall, the Crimson Tide has a 55-26-5 record against the LSU Tigers including winning 10 of its last 11 games, but the Tigers are looking to get a huge victory tonight.
Two of the winningest coaches in the country square off in Nick Saban and Brian Kelly. Kelly, who is currently in his first year as the Tigers’ head coach, is coming off a lot of success as the winningest head coach in Notre Dame Fighting Irish history.
Both Saban and Kelly have faced off against each other in some big matchups including the 2012 National Championship and the 2020 College Football Playoff Semifinal game. Both of those games went towards Saban’s way, but this will be the first time that both of these accomplished coaches will go against each other in SEC action.
“All the basic tenants of a game like this, that’s why you come to LSU. It’s not pressure. It’s a privilege to play in games like this. Certainly, why I came to LSU, to want to play in games like this.”LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly
Both coaches have tremendous respect for each other and how they run their programs.
“I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for Brian Kelly wherever he’s been a coach. “He’s had a tremendous amount of success. I think their team reflects the kind of team that anybody would want to coach in terms of how they compete, how hard they play, sort of the discipline and all the intangible things you try to develop and build in your team and in your program.”Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
“Certainly, what’s to say about Alabama other than consistency, excellence, arguably the greatest head coach in college football history in Nick Saban. I have a great deal of respect for Nick and what he has accomplished and what he has done for college football and great players.”LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly
#10 LSU Tigers (6-2, 4-1)
Just a couple of weeks ago, LSU was embarrassed by Tennessee at home and a few weeks later, the Tigers embarrass undefeated Ole Miss by outscoring the Rebels 42-3 after being down 17-3 in a convincing 45-20 victory. That victory catapulted the Tigers in the bye week with a lot of confidence and all the way up to number 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Offensively, the Tigers are playing their best football right now not only in the Ole Miss game, but in the Florida game too. Quarterback Jayden Daniels is as hot as any quarterback in the country over these last three weeks. In the wins against Florida and Ole Miss, Daniels has completed 73% of his passes for 597 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. He has also continued to be a threat on the ground as well with 165 rushing yards and six touchdowns. There is no doubt that Daniels has found his groove as he has more touchdowns in the last two games than he has had in the previous six games combined.
Daniels has a lot of weapons to throw the football to. For starters, the Tigers have preseason All-American wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, who is projected as a first round NFL Draft pick. Then, there are other great playmakers out there for the Tigers in Jaray Jenkins, who leads the team in touchdown receptions with five, Malik Nabers, who leads the team in receptions and years, Brian Thomas Jr., who has 20 catches for 280 yards and three touchdowns this season, Kyren Lacy, and freshman standout tight end Mason Taylor. The Tigers will also get Jack Bech back healthy for tonight’s game as well.
The Tigers have had back-to-back 45-point outputs not only because of Daniels’ dynamic play, but because of the team being able to run the football as well. Josh Williams and Armoni Goodwin have turned into a good one-two punch combining for 559 yards and nine touchdowns. A lot of it has to do with the improved play of the offensive line. The running game will also get a boost in getting John Emery Jr. back from injury. Although Garrett Dellinger will not dress tonight for the Tigers, the offensive line is still playing with a lot of confidence led by two freshmen Will Campbell and Emery Jones at tackle. The offensive line also will feature Charles Turner at center, Miles Frazier at left guard, and Anthony Bradford at right guard.
Defensively, the Tigers have another outstanding freshman already making splash plays for the Tigers, and that is Harold Perkins. The five-star freshman has already made his mark with the Tigers having 36 tackles, three tackles for loss, an interception, seven quarterback hurries, and 2.5 sacks. Also, at defensive end is BJ Ojulari, who was another preseason All-American before the start of the season and is another potential first day draft pick for the Tigers. LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly is finally comfortable in making sure two of the team’s best pass rushers are on the field at the same time.
Jace LeJeune on Twitter: “#LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly on getting BJ Ojulari & Harold Perkins on the field at the same time: “We have the ability to make defensive calls to have them both on the field at the same time. We had to do that in certain situational calls & now, we can do it in our base defense.”” / Twitter
The Tigers are also getting great play up front from Mekhi Wingo, who is coming off a SEC Defensive Lineman Player of the Week performance against Ole Miss in which he had seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry, and a forced fumble.
At linebacker, LSU head coach Brian Kelly knows that he is going to have to play his best players including Micah Baskerville going against an Alabama offense that presents a lot of matchup problems.
“I think it’s important that the best players play. I think we’ve seen consistently who those players are. Micah Baskerville has been playing really good football for us. Obviously, we want to get Ojulari on the field and Perkins. Those guys are making plays and have had for us high production.”LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly
The secondary will get a boost in getting sophomore safety Major Burns back after suffering a neck injury earlier this season. This group plays well in the second half and that effort will be needed led by Joe Foucha, Greg Brooks, Jay Ward, Mekhi Garner, Jarrick Bernard-Converse, Colby Richardson, and Sage Ryan.
Finally, on special teams, the Tigers’ punter Jay Bramblett has been one of the best in the SEC averaging over 45 yards per punt. The Notre Dame transfer will also be named team captain for the Tigers tonight. What is a concern has been special teams coverage and muffed punts. Gregory Clayton has proven to be a reliable option returning punts and hopefully, for the Tigers, that continues moving forward to this game. Damian Ramos has converted on five of eight field goals with a long of 47 yards this season.
#6 Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1, 4-1)
The Alabama Crimson Tide are once again one of the top teams in the entire country, and they are led by defending Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. Despite missing one game this season in a win against Texas A&M and missing the second half of the Crimson Tide’s Arkansas win with a shoulder injury, Young has still put up pretty gaudy numbers. Young has completed 66% of his passes for 1,906 yards and 18 touchdowns to only three interceptions while also accounting for three rushing touchdowns on the ground.
LSU head coach Brian Kelly has plenty of respect for the defending Heisman Trophy winner and calls him the best player in the country.
The Crimson Tide offense has a lot of matchup problems offensively starting with Georgia Tech transfer Jahmyr Gibbs, who has 98 carries for 672 yards and six touchdowns on the ground, but he is also a multi-purpose running back as a receiver with 31 catches for 301 yards and three touchdown receptions.
The Crimson Tide has five other receivers with 18 or more receptions this season in Ja’Corey Brooks, Jermaine Burton, Kobe Prentice, Traeshon Holden, and tight end Cameron Latu. Young will distribute the football and is not afraid to spread the wealth among his many weapons.
Defensively, the Crimson Tide is led by arguably the best player in college football regardless of position and that is Will Anderson. Although Anderson is not putting up quite as dominant numbers as last season, he is still impacting the game on that side of the football. He ranks top of the SEC in tackles for loss with 12 along with having 36 tackles and six sacks this season. Both Will Campbell and Emery Jones will have their biggest challenge by far this season. Expect a lot of help from tight ends and running backs to chip in pass protection.
Besides Anderson, the Crimson Tide is still stingy up front led by DJ Dale and Jaheim Oats. At linebacker, Henry To’oTo’o is a semifinalist for the Butkus Award. The former Tennessee linebacker leads the Crimson Tide in tackles with 60 along with 4.5 tackles for loss, and one sack. Like Anderson, Dallas Turner is a very talented pass rusher that has a chance to get a lot of opportunities getting in the backfield with so much coverage going towards Anderson. He has 2.5 sacks this season for the Crimson Tide.
The secondary will be tested facing an explosive LSU wide receiver unit, but there is plenty of talented in the backend as well. The secondary has been exposed in the team’s 52-49 loss to Tennessee and has proved to be vulnerable this season. Nick Saban is not the only person making their return to Tiger Stadium as former LSU cornerback Elias Ricks returns back to play against his former team. Rounding out the rest of the secondary for the Crimson Tide is Kook-Aid McKinstry, Terrion Arnold, DeMarco Hellams, and Jordan Battle.
On special teams, the Crimson Tide has veteran Will Reichard, who has converted all of his extra points and has made 12 of 16 field goals this season. In the return game, Kool-Aid McKinstry, and JoJo Earle both have big play ability.
Jace’s Keys To Victory For LSU:
- Jayden Daniels needs to continue to attack and trust his receivers.
- Account for Will Anderson offensively and help the tackles out in pass protection.
- Affect Bryce Young and make him uncomfortable in and outside the pocket.
- Start out the game strong and execute early in this game.
- Keep the game within striking distance entering the fourth quarter and keep the home crowd alive.
Check out The Chase With Jace as Jace LeJeune and former LSU quarterback Marcus Randall preview the huge nighttime showdown between LSU/Alabama! Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with everything that is going on at Gridiron Football.
LSU and Alabama will kickoff on ESPN at 6:00 P.M.