By Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In a re-match of the 2012 BCS National Championship game and a regular-season contest that a year ago was dubbed the “Game of the Century,” No. 1 Alabama and No. 5 LSU square off on Saturday night at 7 p.m. CT in Tiger Stadium. The game will be televised live by CBS.
The winner of this match-up has gone on to either play in the SEC Championship Game or a BCS bowl in six of the last seven years.
The game features two of the nation’s top defenses as Alabama and LSU rank 1-2 in the Southeastern Conference in three major defensive categories – total defense, rushing defense and pass defense. Alabama is first in the league in scoring defense (8.3), while LSU is third at 14.6 points allowed per game. Offensively, Alabama is averaging 40.6 points per game, while LSU is scoring 31.0 per contest.
Alabama enters Saturday’s game with an 8-0 record, including a 5-0 mark in SEC play. The Crimson Tide are coming off a 38-7 win against previously undefeated and 13th-ranked Mississippi State last Saturday in Tuscaloosa.
“This is a great team and a great program we are playing,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “I think the most important thing for us to do is focus on preparing to play our best football. Les Miles, to me, has done as good of a job as anybody in our league ever has in terms of what he’s been able to accomplish and the consistency they’ve accomplished as a team through his eight years at LSU. This will be a very challenging game for us. I think the most important thing is for us to focus on doing the things we need to do to take care of our business, what we control. That’s always the most important thing in games like this.”
LSU is 7-1 overall and 3-1 in league play, and is coming off a 24-19 win against then-Texas A&M in College Station on Oct. 20. The only blemish on the Tigers’ 2012 schedule is a 14-6 loss at then-No. 10 Florida on Oct. 6.
“Alabama is a very, very fine football team,” LSU head coach Les Miles said. “They’re well-prepared and very talented. Certainly, they’ve won every game by a minimum margin of 19 points. We’re looking forward to playing that team. We need to do this better: we need to play for us. We owe ourselves our best effort and I think our guys are looking forward to that. When you match yourselves versus a very quality opponent, it requires you to play your best. Frankly, our guys look forward to that.”
The Crimson Tide and Tigers meet for the 77th time in the history of the two programs with Alabama leading the all-time series 46-25-5 … The two teams split a pair of games last season with LSU claiming the regular-season match-up, 9-6 (OT) in Tuscaloosa, and Alabama winning the BCS National Championship Game 21-0 … The Crimson Tide have claimed three of the last five meetings between the two teams, but have not won in Baton Rouge since the 2008 campaign. The two teams first met in 1895 and they have met every season since 1964 … Saturday’s meeting marks the third consecutive game that both teams go into the contest ranked among the nation’s top-five.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
2011 – Alabama 21, LSU 0 (New Orleans, La.) – BCS National Championship Game
2011 – LSU 9, Alabama 6 (OT) (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
2010 – LSU 24, Alabama 21 (Baton Rouge, La.)
2009 – Alabama 24, LSU 15 (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
2008 – Alabama 27, LSU 21 (OT) (Baton Rouge, La.)
A LOOK AT THE LAST MEETING
Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley connected on five field goals and Trent Richardson scored a late 34-yard touchdown to lead No. 2 Alabama to a 21-0 win against No. 1 LSU in the BCS National Championship Game in the New Orleans Superdome. It marked the first shutout in BCS title game history. Richardson finished with 96 yards on 20 carries and quarterback A.J. McCarron, the offensive player of the game, passed for 234 yards. It was the second BCS National Championship for Alabama in a three-year span under head coach Nick Saban.
PLAYMAKERS – OFFENSE
LSU – Kenny Hilliard, So., Running Back
Hilliard is LSU’s leading rusher with 420 yards on 71 carries through eight games this year. For his career, he has logged 14 rushing touchdowns in 21 games played. This season, he recorded three consecutive multi-rushing touchdown games, becoming the first LSU player to do so since 2001.
Alabama – AJ McCarron, Jr., Quarterback
McCarron leads the SEC in passing efficiency with a 182.4 rating, and has completed 122-of-177 passes for 1,684 yards with no interceptions. His streak of 262 consecutive passes without an interception is the longest in Alabama history and ranks second in SEC history behind Kentucky’s Andre Woodson, who went 325 attempts between interceptions. His 18 touchdowns this season ranks tied for second on the Alabama single-season passing touchdowns list. He needs three more scoring strikes to surpass Greg McElroy (20) for the school single-season record.
PLAYMAKERS – DEFENSE
LSU – Kevin Minter, Jr., Linebacker
Minter currently leads his team and ranks fourth in the SEC with 75 total tackles. He has recorded 9.5 tackles for loss, which currently rank fifth in the SEC. Minter has led his team in tackles five times this season, including 12 stops at Texas A&M that also included one sack and his first career interception. He posted 20 tackles in his team’s loss at Florida, which go down as the second-most of anyone in the nation this season and the most by any SEC player since 2010.
Alabama – C.J. Mosley, Junior, Linebacker
Mosley currently leads his team and ranks tied for ninth in the SEC this season in tackles per game (8.1) and he has logged 65 tackles on the year. With his INT return for touchdown against Michigan this season, Mosley tied the Alabama career record for career interception returns for touchdown with three, matching Antonio Langham.
• LSU has not played a game since Oct. 20 and is 5-1 under head coach Les Miles following a scheduled open date.
• With its win against Mississippi State on Oct. 27, Alabama charted its eighth consecutive game with 30 or more points, which goes down as the longest such streak to start a season.
• The Tigers have won a school-record 22 consecutive games in Tiger Stadium, which currently ranks as the nation’s longest streak.
• Alabama enters Saturday’s game, having scored on 34 of its 35 red-zone opportunities this season. The Crimson Tide currently are tied for first in the nation in red-zone conversion at 97 percent.
• LSU is facing its fourth consecutive ranked team, marking just the second time in school history (joining the 2007 season) that the Tigers have played four straight ranked opponents in the regular season.
• Alabama is one of only two teams in the nation to have not thrown an interception this season, joining Louisiana Tech. It has been 11-and-a-half games since an Alabama quarterback threw an interception, which is the longest streak in the nation.