The rivalry between Alabama and LSU has been one of the best in college football over the past few years. The 2013 matchup, however, might not resemble the highly contested games the two teams have played in recent seasons.
Since Les Miles and Nick Saban have been facing off in the SEC, neither team has dominated the rivalry. Saban and Alabama lead the series, 4-3, including a 21-0 win in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against the head coach's former school. The title game is the only one that was decided by double-digits.
“This is not the kind of game that anybody could not get excited about playing in,” Saban said at a Monday afternoon press conference. “Obviously this rivalry in the last few years has always meant a lot, whether it’s national rankings (or) SEC West. (It’s) a very meaningful game.”
For Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide have been set at double-digit favorites. According to vegasinsider.com, casinos have the No.1 team in the country ranging from anywhere from a 10.5-point to an 11.5-point favorite. The Tigers enter the week as the No.13 ranked team in the nation, but the Tide have been a heavy favorite in almost all of their games. Only their contest with then-No.6 Texas A&M saw them giving less than 10 points.
Alabama were involved in games with large point spreads for good reason. Of their eight wins, seven have come by at least 25 points. They are 5-3 against the spread. The Tigers are the third ranked opponent for Alabama after beating Texas A&M and Ole Miss.
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A few weeks ago, the betting line for this match up might have been closer to a touchdown. An upset defeat at the hands of Ole Miss, though, knocked LSU out of the title picture. They were plagued by three interceptions from Zach Mettenberger, who only has four interceptions in all other games.
A win for LSU would keep their SEC Championship hopes alive. Currently, they are two games behind Alabama and one behind Auburn for first place in the SEC West. A tiebreaker between the three would go in favor of LSU.
Both teams have had an extra week’s rest to prepare for their rival. The Tigers haven't played since Oct. 26 when they blew out Furman, 48-16. On that day, Alabama had an easy 45-10 win over Tennessee. They went into halftime up 35-0.
“I can tell you this, the open date came at the exact right time,” Miles said at his weekly press conference. "We're a little nicked and we needed it. This will be fun to re-gather the troops. And we had three good practices last week. We'll certainly approach the Alabama game plan and looking forward to making it ours this week. And again, we think we'll get some freshness back in our team and some health and look forward to playing.”
The Tigers have been competitive on their two loses, falling by three points to Ole Miss and Georgia. They’ve also beaten a few ranked teams, with victories over Auburn and Florida. They might not pull off the upset, but with so much talent and the way they've played Alabama, a double-digit point spread is rather high.
Prediction: Alabama 34, LSU 27