No. 1 LSU (8-0) travels to No. 2 Alabama (8-0) in a regular-season “Game of the Century” at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. The game will be televised nationally at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
It is the first No. 1-vs.-No. 2 matchup in the regular season since the top-ranked Tigers beat the second-ranked Crimson Tide 9-6 in 2011. Saturday’s matchup comes just four days after the first College Football Playoff rankings will be unveiled, and there are huge implications for that and the SEC West race.
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LSU hasn’t beaten Alabama since that 2011 meeting, but the Tigers come into this one with a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback in Joe Burrow. The Tigers rank fourth in the nation with 46.8 points per game and have the talent to give the Crimson Tide a run. Alabama, however, ranks No. 2 in the FBS with 48.6 points per game. Heisman contender Tua Tagovailoa (ankle) will be a game-time decision, but this is the stage the Crimson Tide have thrived on through the Nick Saban dynasty.
The winner will be the new No. 1 in the next set of Playoff rankings. The loser might have room to get into the final four as well, depending on the score. With that in mind, here’s everything you need for Saturday’s matchup between No.1 and No. 2:
LSU vs. Alabama odds
Spread: Alabama -6.5
Point total: 63.5
Moneyline: LSU -110, Alabama-110
Alabama is a 6.5-point favorite, according to odds at Sportsbook Review, but 40 percent of the wagering has come in favor of the Crimson Tide at this point.
LSU vs. Alabama all-time series
Alabama leads the all-time series between the two schools 53-25-5. The Crimson Tide have won the eight meetings, and that includes shutouts in 2016 and 2018. Alabama is 10-2 when both teams are ranked in the top 10.
Three trends to know
— Since the College Football Playoff era started in 2014, Alabama is 39-1 straight up as the home favorite. The Crimson Tide are 18-22 against the spread in the same situation, however.
— Alabama is 15-8-1 against the spread after a bye under Saban since 2007.
— LSU is 6-0 against the spread as an underdog since Ed Orgeron took over as the full-time head coach in 2017. The Tigers are 3-0 against the spread as a road underdog.
MORE: Will Tagovailoa play vs. LSU? Injury timeline for Bama QB
Three things to watch
Tua Tagovailoa’s ankle
Tagovailoa will be the focus leading up to the game, and if he plays the question will be whether he’s mobile enough to be a playmaker against an LSU secondary that features Grant Delpit and Derek Stingley Jr. yet still allows 217.5 passing yards per game. Against the Tigers last year, Tagovailoa had his third-lowest completion percentage (59.5) but ran for a season-high 49 rushing yards. He made the plays necessary to propel a 29-0 victory. If Tagovailoa can’t go, then the pressure falls on Mac Jones, who hit 81.8 percent of his passes with 235 yards and three touchdowns in his debut against Arkansas.
Joe Burrow’s Heisman case
Burrow has been amazing in the offensive overhaul installed by former Saints passing coordinator Joe Brady. It will look different than last year, when Burrow hit 18 of 35 passes (51.4 percent) for 184 yards and an interception in that Alabama loss. The Crimson Tide have allowed 10 touchdown passes, but they also have 10 interceptions. The secondary is led by Trevon Diggs and Patrick Surtain Jr., and will be looking to add to that total.
There are so many playmakers on the perimeter, but it comes down to the four receivers with at least 40 receptions this season. Will LSU’s tandem of Justin Jefferson (55 catches, 819 yards, nine touchdowns) and Ja’Marr Chase (43 catches, 749 yards, nine touchdowns) out-produce the Alabama tandem of Jerry Jeudy (52 catches, 682 yards, eight touchdowns) and DeVonta Smith (43 catches, 721 yards, nine touchdowns)? The tandem that has the better combined total at the end of the day will be on the winning side.
MORE: Ranking every regular-season ‘Game of the Century’
Stat that matters
Despite the high-flying passing games, the Alabama-LSU game still hinges on the running game on both sides. In the last eight meetings — including the 2011 meeting — the winning team has rushed 315 times for 1,475 yards, averaging 4.76 yards per carry. The losing team has 283 attempts for 654 yards, averaging 2.31 yards per carry. LSU had 25 carries for 12 yards last season. Look for both teams to try to get that running game established early. Alabama’s Najee Harris and LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire are multi-purpose backs who will be involved in the passing game, too.
LSU vs. Alabama prediction
There is so much NFL talent on the field on both sides, and the key for Burrow will be maintaining that 70 percent-or-better accuracy. Our guess is Tagovailoa plays, and Alabama is conservative in the first quarter. The shootout starts in the second, and Harris breaks off a big touchdown run before Alabama heads into halftime with a 17-10 lead. The teams play even in the second half, but Alabama — with Tagovailoa — stays one score ahead in the fourth quarter to retake the top spot in the AP Top 25 and Playoff rankings. The question is whether a rematch will be in the works later.
Alabama 34, LSU 27