No. 4 LSU, No. 7 Alabama now can only wait for showdown
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Alabama and LSU have navigated rugged stretches leading up to a two-week wait. Then comes what figures to be the most hyped Southeastern Conference game of the regular season.
The seventh-ranked Crimson Tide and No. 4 LSU both have open dates before the big SEC West rendezvous at Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 7.
”Definitely looking forward to it,” Tigers receiver Malachi Dupre said after Saturday night’s 48-20 win over Western Kentucky. ”You are talking about a game that everybody has marked on their calendar a year before it happens.”
Alabama (7-1, 4-1) has won the last four meetings. LSU (7-0, 4-0) is the last unbeaten team in the league and powered by the nation’s leading rusher Leonard Fournette.
Both received at least one first-place vote in Sunday’s Associated Press Top 25.
Now, they get a week of rest, fine tuning, extra film study – and, of course, hype. The break comes at a good time before a matchup of smashmouth teams powered by big, powerful runners and top-10 rushing defenses.
Fournette is regarded as the Heisman Trophy front-runner with 1,352 yards and 15 touchdowns. Alabama’s Derrick Henry has racked up 1,044 yards and 14 touchdowns.
”I expect a matchup between two power football teams,” LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith said. ”I guess you can call us twin teams. I definitely think they are going to come out and try and pound the football. We will be ready. We see it every day in practice. We will be ready.”
Beyond Fournette, LSU quarterback Brandon Harris is coming off a career performance. He passed for 286 yards and three touchdowns, two of them for 50-plus yards, against Western Kentucky.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said he could tell his team was getting weary in Saturday’s 19-14 win over Tennessee on Henry’s 14-yard touchdown with 2:24 left followed by a forced fumble.
”We were tired out there, dead-legged,” Saban said. ”Didn’t look very quick, didn’t look very fast. Didn’t have a lot of energy like we usually do. I think that’s playing eight games in a row.
”But the best thing I can say is you’ve got to really respect a team that finds a way to win, makes plays when they have to make plays.”
Other SEC teams have fallen by the wayside since 10 teams were ranked in the Top 25. Now, there are five, including No. 11 Florida, No. 19 Mississippi and No. 25 Mississippi State.
The Tide has been an overwhelming force on the road but has had some struggles at home, losing to No. 19 Mississippi and either trailing or tied with Arkansas and Tennessee at halftime.
”I don’t know why that is, it’s just funny,” Henry said. ”We haven’t played a complete game at home yet, but we’ve got to build off this win, prepare right in the bye week into next week.
”We’ve got to finish better when we’re at home.”
This story corrects 13th paragraph to show five SEC teams in Top 25, not four
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, contributed to this report.