published Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

LSU seeks to spoil Alabama's title hopes

Alabama head coach Nick Saban leads his team on to the field in this Oct. 26, 2013, file photo.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban leads his team on to the field in this Oct. 26, 2013, file photo.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
TIDE, TAKE THREE

Three tidbits regarding top-ranked Alabama entering Saturday's night's home game against No. 10 LSU:

• 1. Alabama holds a commanding 47-25-5 series advantage against LSU, but the two teams are 9-9 versus one another in Tuscaloosa.

• 2. The Crimson Tide and Tigers have played at six different locations through the years -- Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham.

• 3. Coach Nick Saban is 4-4 all-time against LSU, 4-3 with the Crimson Tide and 0-1 while at Michigan State.

  • photo
    Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon (4) scores the game winning touchdown past LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo (49) in the second half of the Crimson Tide's 21-17 win last year in Baton Rouge. The SEC West powers meet again Saturday in Tuscaloosa, and Yeldon could be a key player again.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

  • photo
    LSU coach Les Miles speaks to reporters at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media day in Hoover, Ala.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Alabama and LSU will meet for a fourth time in three years Saturday night with one of the teams ranked No. 1 nationally.

What other rivalry can boast that?

"Our guys are in college football for these kinds of games," LSU coach Les Miles said Monday in his weekly news conference. "We look forward to playing in them, and it's a great opportunity for all. Any time you can line up against Alabama, there is a rivalry and national prestige, and the want to make plays against a quality opponent is there.

"I think the greatest compliment that we can pay an opponent is our best effort, and certainly Alabama will get that."

Alabama and LSU have combined to win four of the last six Southeastern Conference championships and five of the last 10 national titles.

The No. 10 Tigers will travel to Bryant-Denny Stadium this year looking to spoil top-ranked Alabama's bid for a third consecutive BCS title, a feat never before accomplished in the sport. LSU has won five times in its last six trips to Tuscaloosa, which includes a 2-1 mark against Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban.

LSU was ranked No. 1 two years ago when the visiting Tigers pulled out a 9-6 overtime decision over the No. 2 Tide, but Alabama exacted revenge two months later at the BCS title game in New Orleans.

"This is not the kind of game that anybody could not get excited about playing in," Saban said Monday at his weekly gathering. "Obviously this rivalry in the last few years has always meant a lot. Whether it's national rankings or the SEC West, it's a very meaningful game."

In last year's matchup at Baton Rouge, a 28-yard touchdown pass from AJ McCarron to tailback T.J. Yeldon with 51 seconds remaining enabled Alabama to pull out a 21-17 thriller. McCarron said Monday that this has been Alabama's best rivalry since he's been there from a competition standpoint.

The Tide won a year ago despite getting outgained by 104 yards and allowing the Tigers a staggering 39 minutes and 15 seconds of possession time.

"We played a great game the whole game until the last minute," LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson said Monday.

Alabama fell the next week to visiting Texas A&M but regained control of its BCS title-game destiny when Oregon and Kansas State went down.

Saban has lost one November home game each of the past three seasons. A fourth such setback would not bode well for the Crimson Tide in the national landscape given that Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor are undefeated and winning weekly by impressive margins.

"We need to focus on the things that they need to do to play winning football against some very good teams that we have to play against down the stretch," Saban said. "That's what we're going to try and focus on. We sort of determine what we do, so how about let's focus on what we do to try and make that happen for us in a positive way?"

Alabama is 8-0 this season, surviving Texas A&M 49-42 in its second game and winning every other contest by at least 25 points. The Crimson Tide routed Kentucky (48-7), Arkansas (52-0) and Tennessee (45-10) in their last three games before having an open date.

LSU, which also was off last week, is 7-2 with three-point losses at Georgia (44-41) and at Ole Miss (27-24). Saban said the Tigers could "easily be 9-0," but LSU is a rare 11-point underdog heading to Tuscaloosa.

"That's OK," LSU receiver Jarvis Landry said. "Any time you get LSU and Bama together on the field, those are the two best teams in the SEC. Everybody knows that, and it's a respected rivalry.

"For us, it's not about being the underdog. It's about getting the win."

Tide tidbits

The Crimson Tide held a two-hour workout Monday. ... Alabama's game at Mississippi State on Nov. 16 will have either a 7 p.m. EST kickoff on ESPN2 or a 7:45 start on ESPN. ... Saban: "We don't have a lot of injury issues right now."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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