Whenever Alabama and LSU meet one another on the gridiron, it’s a must-watch affair every year. But every now and again, the matchup between the SEC West rivals just feels a little more special, and that’s what we have on tap Saturday afternoon as the No. 2 LSU Tigers head out to Tuscaloosa to take on the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide. The stakes are about as high as possible in this one, so you can’t really ask for much more from this monumental SEC showdown.
The winner will assume front-runner status in the SEC West and stay in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings, while the loser will leave its margin for error razor thin in the race for the meaningful postseason.
What will happen Saturday afternoon? Let’s break down the big game and make picks straight up and against the spread.
Alabama: All eyes are on the ankle of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after the junior underwent a “tight rope” surgery to fix a high-ankle sprain three weeks ago following the win over Tennessee. Coach Nick Saban has said that his star is a “game-time decision,” and Mac Jones will be waiting in the bullpen in case Tagovailoa can’t go. Top wide receiver DeVonta Smith should be back in action to lead the best wide receiving corps in the nation. The defense hasn’t been up to normal Alabama standards, but has still only given up 4.54 yards per play this year — 14th in the nation. The high-octane LSU offense has thrived this year thanks to big plays and will provide the toughest test yet for Saban’s crew.
LSU: Quarterback Joe Burrow has asserted himself as the frontrunner in the Heisman Trophy race after setting the program record for touchdown passes in a single season in Game 7 of the season. More importantly, though, has been the emergence of running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire as a true threat. The junior rushed for 134 yards in mid-October against the stout Florida defense, and posted 136 against the tough Auburn front seven the last time out. All-American safety Grant Delpit is nursing a leg injury, but should play. Linebacker Michael Divinity left the team this week, which will put pressure on coordinator Dave Aranda to move some pieces around to pick up the slack.
Game prediction, picks
LSU’s defense has been a bit of a mystery this season, and it’ll come back to bite the Tigers on Saturday. They’re tied for seventh in the SEC in opponent’s passing plays of 20 or more yards with 23, which will be a killer on Saturday afternoon against a Crimson Tide passing attack that has made a living with big plays. Auburn’s defense had success against the LSU offensive line two weeks ago and gave Saban a blueprint on how to attack Burrow and the offense. I’ll put my money on the combination of Saban and time to find a way to get the win, but I do think that the Tigers offense will have enough success to keep it close deep into the fourth quarter. Pick: LSU (+6.5)
So what picks can you make with confidence in Week 11? And which line is way off, making it a must-back? Visit SportsLine to see which college football teams win and cover the spread, all from a proven computer model that has returned over $4,000 in profit over the past four seasons.