TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama sees a clearly defined path to all of its big-picture goals, starting with LSU as the first of several big obstacles.
The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide got a boost on its open date when rival Auburn beat Ole Miss, the only team to top Bama this season. That means Saturday night’s game at Tiger Stadium is the first since that loss where Alabama (7-1, 4-1 Southeastern) is in charge of its own fate.
“It’s definitely a will thing,” Tide defensive end Jonathan Allen said of games with LSU. “We’re so excited. I don’t feel like we’re going to have any problem with that. We’re so excited now, especially since we control our own destiny.”
Alabama was sixth in the initial College Football Playoff rankings but will likely climb one spot closer to the top four Tuesday.
The Ole Miss loss also cleared the way to an SEC West title if Alabama wins out. That’s a big challenge even if the Tide wins Saturday, with home games against No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 3 Auburn remaining.
The Tide has won the past three meetings against LSU starting with the 2011 season’s BCS championship game rematch, but both teams are riding three-game winning streaks.
Like usual, it’s likely to feature punishing defenses and powerful running backs like Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon and LSU’s Leonard Fournette.
“These games are traditionally very tough, physical games between two ranked teams,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “It’s certainly not going to be any different this year.”
Saban said tailback T.J. Yeldon suffered a lower leg injury against Tennessee but indicated left tackle Cameron Robinson was the only starter who wouldn’t be full-go starting the week.