Clash of the Titans

LSU vs. Alabama could once again decide the SEC West

Due to the threat of rain Saturday, Baton Rouge has switched trick or treating to Tiger Stadium.

While Halloween traditionally means a date with Ole Miss, the No. 4 LSU has a bye this weekend. So, too, does their next opponent, No. 7 Alabama. But neither team is taking the weekend off, though. 

Next Saturday’s matchup between the undefeated Bayou Bengals and one-loss Crimson Tide will be the ninth straight to be televised by CBS and the sixth straight to be broadcast in prime time. It’s a game with national championship implications. And both teams’ head coaches talked about the coming faceoff on Tuesday.

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“It's hard for us to deny this is not going to be a pretty big game,” LSU’s Les Miles said. “I think our guys will enjoy playing in big games. Great venue at Bryant-Denny. I think our guys enjoy playing in meaningful games, and this certainly is one.”

Alabama’s Nick Saban gave not only one of the best Sabanisms, but possibly the best coaching quotes of all time. With one eye looking back to their narrow 19-14 win over Tennessee last week and one looking forward to the Tigers, he said, “The players certainly showed that they wanted to come in first and it was important for them to win, and they did the things in the end they had to do to do that, but there's a big difference between wanting to be first and really wanting to be the best that you can be, and the focus for us this week and to get the kind of consistency and performance that we'd like to have is that we want more players to be playing their best. I guess the analogy would be if you can run 10.9 100-meters and the guy you're running against runs 11.5 and you just run 11.4, well you wanted to be first, but you're not really being your best.”

The Tigers last beat Alabama, 9-6, in their 2011 regular season contest, dubbed the “Game of the Century.” The Tide got revenge shutting out LSU, 21-zip, in that season’s BCS national championship game, and they haven’t lost since.

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The matchup will be a traditionalist’s delight. Both teams are built on solid defense and a strong running game. Alabama’s Derrick Henry has 1,044 rushing yards on the season, averaging 130.5 yards a game, and Bama ranks No. 6 in the nation in total defense allowing just 276 yards per game. LSU’s defense ranks No. 20, giving up an average of 316 yards a game. Heisman Trophy front-runner Leonard Fournette, who leads the nation in total rushing yards (1,352), average yards per game (193.1), and rushing touchdowns (15), leads LSU’s attack.

Fournette expects a very physical game when the lights come on next Saturday night. “It’s like what I call a clash of the titans,” he said. “It’s going to be a big one.”

He gave props to Alabama’s defense, calling them tremendous.

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“I’m very excited to be part of it again. Since high school at home, you’re so excited watching LSU and Alabama go against each other,” he said. “And now you’re in it, something big. The legacy between these two teams and the tradition they have between each other….”

Asked about carrying the load for the Tigers, he coolly replied, “It comes with the territory.”



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