Sometimes the hype surrounding a big SEC game goes overboard.
When the top-ranked LSU travels to Tuscaloosa to face No. 2 Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, the hype will be justified.
Before the start of the season, there was speculation that the matchup would be one of the better games of the year, as Alabama was ranked No. 2 in preseason, and LSU was ranked No. 4. After Oklahoma lost to Texas Tech, and LSU defeated Oregon, it became more evident that the SEC had the two best teams in the nation.
Both teams boast excellent defenses, so the game will likely be decided by how each offense executes their plays. Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart are known for being defensive gurus, and Tigers' head coach Les Miles boasts some very fast linebackers and defensive backs.
Alabama will rely heavily on running back Trent Richardson. The junior running back is coming off one of his least impressive performances of the season, but is still considered among the best rushers in the nation. Should Richardson have a strong game against such a great excellent rush defense, it will dramatically raise his presence amongst Heisman Trophy voters.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron has had three-straight strong performances, having thrown six touchdown passes and only one interception in the span. The sophomore's favorite target this season has been Marquis Maze. The senior wide out has 39 receptions for 482 yards. McCarron may have a tough time threading the need on third-down situations against an effective LSU secondary, which should make for some interesting play calling.
LSU's most dangerous offensive player is Rueben Randle. The junior wide receiver lit up Auburn with two touchdown receptions -- one from quarterback Jordan Jefferson, for 42 yards, and another from Jarrett Lee, for 46 yards. Randle, who has 33 receptions and 638 yards on the season, is a potential first-round draft pick, and will likely be defended by the Tide's Dre' Kirkpatrick, another potential first rounder.
Miles will have Spencer Ware back for this big matchup, as the work horse running back was suspended for the Auburn game. Ware has 512 yards on the season, to go along with six touchdowns.
The last time these two teams played, the Tigers won 24-21.
Each team has had two weeks of rest, so there won't be excuses this weekend.
LINE: Alabama is a 5-point favorite.
PREDICTION: LSU will be prepared for Richardson, and limit him to only short gains. The second half will offer more scoring as the defenses show signs of fatigue, but LSU's will defense will have enough to force a turnover as the Tide decide to take some chances. The threat of Randle will help open LSU's running game, and the Tigers can expect at least one breakout run. Expect a big game from Maze, who will be eager to prove himself in his last game against the LSU. Both teams will be very reliant on their kickers and punters.
PREDICTED SCORE: LSU 24, Alabama 15