Written by Ryan Lippert
As the first College Football Rankings were released on Tuesday, those rankings will likely only stand for a week. This is due to the fact that we have a huge rivalry matchup in the Southeastern Conference between the two top four teams. The LSU Tigers are looking to continue to show the country that they belong in the conversation as the best team in the country. On the opposite side, Alabama is looking to silence any doubters and show that they are still the same powerhouse that they have been since the College Football Playoff started. This game will also likely decide the SEC West as a loss would significantly hurt both teams. As the championship hopes for both of these teams on the line, this should be a very fun game to watch. With all of this in mind, let’s take a deeper look at this week’s SEC Game of the Week between the Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers.
Will Tua Be Able to Return to Lead Alabama to Victory?
Although they’re a great all-around team, whether or not Alabama can reach another College Football Playoff lies on the health on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. When healthy, Tua has shown why he was considered a Heisman front runner and the top quarterback prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. He has thrown for 2,166 yards, 27 touchdowns, and only two interceptions through seven games this season. Tua has benefited once again from arguably the best wide receiver group in the country with Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle. Smith has led the group with 721 yards and nine touchdowns off 43 receptions. Jeudy leads the team in receptions with 52 for 682 yards and eight touchdowns.
If Tua can’t go, they will rely on backup Mac Jones who has looked solid when given his opportunity. He has thrown for 472 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception this season. However, as good as he has been, they will need Tua as they will be playing against a secondary filled with future NFL talent. The LSU secondary is led by two potential first-round picks in cornerback Kristian Fulton and safety Grant Delpit, along with arguably the best defensive back in the country in true freshman Derek Stingley who has four interceptions on the season.
Regardless of who is at quarterback, they will likely need some help from the run game. Najee Harris has led the charge for this Alabama rushing attack with 663 yards and four touchdowns so far. His back up Brian Robinson Jr. has been reliable as well with 369 yards and three touchdowns of his own. They will be facing an LSU defense that has been stingy against the run, allowing only 97.9 rushing yards per game and only five total rushing touchdowns this season.
Joe Burrow Looks to Build on His Breakout Season
As I have said for several weeks now, the success of this LSU football team is due in large part to the outstanding play of quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow has made his case as a Heisman front runner and top-level draft prospect this season. He has thrown for 2,805 yards, 30 touchdowns, and only four interceptions through eight games. Much like Tua, he has benefited from an outstanding wide receiver group led by Justin Jefferson who has 55 receptions for 819 yards and nine touchdowns so far. He will be facing an Alabama secondary that has only allowed 180.13 passing yards per game and ten total passing touchdowns while coming away with ten interceptions.
Just like Alabama, I believe the Tigers will need some help from the run game in this one. Junior running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has led LSU in rushing this season with 683 yards and eight touchdowns so far. He will be going up against an Alabama defense that has allowed 127.4 rushing yards per game and only three total rushing touchdowns so far.
This matchup has the potential to be the best game of the college football season as I strongly believe that Alabama and LSU are the top two teams in the country. I think Tua will come back this weekend as this is just too big of a game for him to miss and I see him having a solid performance in his return. On the other side, Burrow will turn this game into a classic quarterback dual and have a big game himself. However, I believe that the recent rankings will light a fire under Nick Saban and he will have his team ready to play. The high-powered Alabama offense and the electric crowd in Tuscaloosa will take over late and lead the Crimson Tide to a 31-28 victory.