LSU vs. Alabama: Everything you need to know for huge SEC matchup

It’s the main even for the Southeastern Conference — and all of college football in Week 10.

No. 1 Alabama travels to Tiger Stadium in primetime to face No. 4 LSU in a top-five showdown that has huge SEC West and College Football Playoff implications. It’s a chance for the Crimson Tide to take total control of the division race under coach Nick Saban, and at the same time for the Tigers and coach Ed Orgeron to re-assert themselves as a legitimate Playoff — and perhaps national championship — contender.

BENDER: The power of Tua Tagovailoa

Will Heisman Trophy front runner Tua Tagovailoa lead the Crimson Tide to another early knockout? Or will the Tigers make it a four-quarter fight and get a boost when linebacker Devin White, who will miss the first half due to a targeting penalty against Mississippi State, returns to the lineup?

Here’s a look at the need-to-know information about the Crimson Tide and Tigers heading into the matchup:

How to watch Alabama-LSU

Alabama and LSU kick off at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. The game will be televised nationally on CBS but can also be streamed online at fuboTV.

Alabama-LSU betting odds

The line opened with Alabama as a 14-point favorite, and it has jumped up 14.5 points since. It’s the first spread fewer than 22.5 points for the Crimson Tide all season. Alabama is 5-3 against the spread as a favorite in 2018.

Alabama-LSU all-time series

Alabama leads the all-time series 52-25-5. The Crimson Tide have won the last seven meetings against the Tigers, starting with the 2012 BCS championship game victory. Alabama is 9-3 against LSU under Saban.

MORE: LSU-Alabama looks like a mega-matchup again

Three trends to know ahead of Alabama-LSU

— LSU allows just 11.2 points per game at home this season, including a 36-16 victory against Georgia on Oct. 13.

— Alabama has won the last three meetings at Tiger Stadium by an average of seven points per game. That included a 10-0 victory in their last visit in 2016.

— Alabama is 34-6 in November the last 10 seasons, including a 15-1 record since the College Football Playoff era began in 2014. The Tigers handed the Crimson Tide back-to-back regular-season losses in 2011-12.

Three things to watch in Alabama-LSU

— First and third-quarter starts. Alabama has been able to knock out opponents in the first quarter. The Crimson Tide is outscoring opponents 165-31 in the first quarter through eight games, and that’s become the calling card for an offense powered by Tua Tagovailoa. LSU isn’t so bad starting games either, outscoring 69-9 in the first quarter and holding opponents to just three field goals all season It’s the third quarter — where LSU is being outscored 30-28 — where this game could turn.

— Joe Burrow. The Ohio State transfer must have the night of his life. Alabama has lost just 12 games this decade, and there haven’t been many ways to go about it. Burrow doesn’t have to beat Tagovailoa, but he has to keep the Tigers on schedule, especially in the first half. Alabama’s defense holds opposing quarterbacks to a 50.9 completions percentage. Burrow is at 53.8 percent for the season. He’ll need to be in the mid-60s Saturday.

— Yards per catch. Can LSU’s loaded secondary — which features Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit—make life difficult for Tagovailoa, who has yet to throw an interception this season? Delpit leads LSU with five picks. The key for the Tigers’ secondary will be limiting the yards per reception. The Crimson Tide have five different players who average more than 17.0 yards per catch, and Jerry Jeudy (25.1) and Jaylen Waddle (21.8) are at the top of that list. Alabama will hit a few big passes. It’s on LSU to make sure it’s not too many too fast.

WEEK 10 PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread 

Alabama-LSU stat that matters

It comes down to the running game in big games. In the last seven Alabama victories, the Crimson Tide averages 171 rushing yards per game. The Tigers have been limited to 91.7 ypg. LSU has had the advantage on the ground in two of the last four meetings. That included a 183-106 in a 20-13 overtime loss at Tiger Stadium in 2016. If LSU can win the rushing battle, then they will be able to hang around.

Alabama-LSU prediction

The Tigers will avoid a first-quarter knockout, and an amped-up crowd will help keep it close after a quarter. Tagovailoa, however, will settle in with a few drives in the second quarter for a 10-point lead at halftime. LSU will keep it within that range in the fourth quarter with a ball-control passing attack led by Burrow, but the Tide will tack on a late fourth-quarter touchdown for the final margin. Alabama covers the large spread — but not by much.

Alabama-LSU final score

Alabama 34, LSU 17

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