8:00 PM ET, November 9, 2013
Bryant-Denny Stadium, TUSCALOOSA, AL
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- So it's not the "Game of the Century," or maybe even the game of the week.
No. 1 Alabama versus No. 10 LSU is still a made-for-prime-time matchup in the Southeastern Conference on Saturday night and maybe even a must-win in the Crimson Tide's bid for a third consecutive national championship.
Alabama (8-0, 5-0) has overcome down-to-the-wire November defeats the past two seasons -- to Texas A&M and the Tigers -- and still managed to claim the title, thanks to timely losses by other contenders.
Now, three other unbeaten teams are lined up just waiting for the Tide to falter -- that number was four before No. 2 Oregon lost at No. 6 Stanford on Thursday -- making perfection the only guaranteed ticket to the BCS title game in Pasadena, Calif. AJ McCarron isn't banking on one loss cutting it this time -- or worrying about it.
"Probably not, but I'm not thinking about everybody else," the Alabama quarterback said Monday. "I could care less about what their record is. It's no disrespect to them. They're all having great seasons, but we're worried about us and what we need to do to take care of business."
That doesn't mean some Tide fans won't be taking a peek at what's happening with No. 3 Florida State and No. 4 Ohio State after No. 5 Baylor stayed undefeated Thursday.
Just in case.
Tide coach Nick Saban dismisses that one-loss scenario as one of those hypotheticals not worth thinking about. But this is one of the two biggest obstacles to perfection remaining for Alabama in the regular season.
The Tide will be heavily favored in at least two of their last three regular-season games against Chattanooga and Mississippi State before facing No. 7 Auburn. Alabama is an 11-point favorite over LSU.
"This is not the kind of game that anybody could not get excited about playing in," Saban said.
The Tigers (7-2, 3-2) already have a pair of three-point road losses to then-No. 9 Georgia (now unranked) and Mississippi, but have recovered well enough to make this the fourth consecutive meeting when both Alabama and LSU are ranked in the top 10.
"I can tell you that our guys are in college football for these kind of games," LSU coach Les Miles said. "We look forward to playing in them. It's a great opportunity for all. Any time you line up against Alabama, there's a rivalry. There's national prestige.
"I think the greatest compliment that we can pay an opponent is our best efforts, and certainly Alabama will get that."
Besides the stakes, this game has been notable in recent meetings for dramatic finishes and tight games, the national title rematch in January 2012 when Alabama won 21-0 being a notable exception.
The last three regular-season meetings have been decided by four points or less, and LSU won two of them.
Last season, T.J. Yeldon took McCarron's screen pass 28 yards for a touchdown with 51 seconds remaining for a 21-17 victory.
"Last year's game hurt," LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson said. "We played a great game until the last minute. Now, I'm just getting ready for this game. Every year we play, it's a huge game, a rivalry game. Everybody is doubting us. I just want to prove them wrong. We play better when everybody is against us.
"This is a chance to showcase our talent. It's like an Ali-Foreman fight every time we play. The intensity level is like no other game."
In 2011, the 1 versus 2 so-called "Game of the Century" came down to the kickers with LSU winning 9-6 in overtime.
"Great defense on both sides, people making plays left and right," Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley said.
The 2010 meeting was notable for Miles enjoying his tradition of nibbling on a blade of grass before DeAngelo Peterson went 23 yards on a fourth-down reverse in the fourth quarter to set up a go-ahead touchdown in LSU's 24-21 victory.
Clearly when it comes to this game, "pretty good" won't likely be enough.
"Coach always tells us to go out and play our best game," Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood said. "We don't look for pretty good, we look for the best that we can play."
Top 25 Overview
Let's call this the "The Game of the Year" and be glad at that. LSU, despite its two losses and championship hopes, represents the biggest obstacle in Alabama's run toward a third straight national title. AJ McCarron is on a roll and LSU's defense has struggled mightily. Alabama's ability on defense, however, is up for debate. The Tide's thin secondary will be tested in a major way by QB Zach Mettenberger and his pair of star wideouts, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.
|Avg Points Allowed||23.5||10.6|
Often considered a power-running team, Alabama has also done damage OUTSIDE the tackles in 2013... In conference play, the Tide leads the SEC in yards per rush and 20-yard rushes on carries to the outside this season... Meanwhile, LSU ranks LAST in the SEC in both of those categories...[+]
Rushing Outside Tackles in SEC Play This Season
LSU had 72 yards on designed runs Saturday, the first time this season the Tigers were held to fewer than 100 such yards. Entering Saturday, LSU led the SEC with the most touchdowns on designed runs and, against Alabama, failed to score multiple such touchdowns for the first time in 2013.[+]
LSU Designed Runs
Zach Mettenberger was 3-of-3 for 89 yards on throws of 15 or more yards in the first half. In the second half, Mettenberger completed 1-of-3 such passes for 22 yards.
AJ McCarron threw for 129 yards in the first half Saturday, passing John Parker Wilson for the most career pass yards in Alabama history.[+]
Most Pass Yards in Alabama History
A good sign for LSU early in this game even if it defies common sense: In the last two seasons, ROAD SEC teams who are -2 in turnover differential in the 1st quarter of conference games are 3-0! Alabama did just that earlier this season in a win at Kentucky. LSU did it last season at Auburn (also: '12 Texas A&M at Ole Miss).
LSU ran for 62 yards on designed runs in the first half Saturday, the most such yards allowed by Alabama in a first half this season since Week 1. In the second half, Alabama had more yards after contact than LSU had total rushing yards on designed runs.[+]
T.J. Yeldon ran for 133 yards Saturday, with 100 yards coming on runs inside the tackles. Entering Saturday, LSU had not allowed a team to run for 100 yards inside the tackles in a game this season.
AJ McCarron has multiple Pass TD in 3 straight games for the 1st time in his career.
AJ McCarron has now won 3 of his 4 starts vs LSU (including 1 in a BCS Championship Game), but he only totaled 1 touchdown pass in his first 3 starts against them. He had 3 tonight, completing 70 percent of his passes in the win.[+]
AJ McCarron - Career vs LSU
Against Alabama, Jeremy Hill averaged 4.0 rushing yards per attempt on runs inside the tackles. Entering Saturday, Hill led all BCS AQ players with 8.3 yards per attempts on such runs (min. 50 rush).
Entering today, Alabama was 67-1 after taking a 14-point lead under Nick Saban... The lone loss came in 2010 vs Auburn (led 24-0, lost 28-27)... The Tide have won 32 straight after leading by at least 14 points since that loss.
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