The stars of the Alabama-LSU rivalry

There have been dozens of All-Americans and first-round picks to come out Alabama and LSU in recent years, talented guys like Courtney Upshaw, Barkevious Mingo, Trent Richardson and Tyrann Mathieu. All told, there have been more than 30 NFL draft picks from both programs since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007.

But with so many players to choose from, how do you determine the best athletes to compete in the rivalry, the ones who have shown up and played their best when the two schools met on the football field each year?

TideNation writer Alex Scarborough and GeauxTigerNation writer Gary Laney did their best to answer that difficult question.

Alabama's stars of the rivalry

S Rashad Johnson: His overtime interception against LSU in 2008 was the cherry on top of the former walk-0n safety's best game of his career at Alabama. Johnson ruined Jarrett Lee's day under center for the Tigers, picking off three of his passes, returning one for a touchdown. The year before Johnson led the team with nine tackles, including one for a loss, against LSU.

WR Julio Jones: It was the fourth quarter and Alabama needed breathing room, so Jones nabbed a screen pass and gave the Tide just that, trotting 73 yards for his second touchdown of the season in the 2009 classic game between SEC West foes. Jones would average more than 100 yards per game in his three career contests with the Tigers.

QB AJ McCarron: McCarron grew up against LSU on the turf of the Superdome in New Orleans in January of 2012, completing 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards and no turnovers. Fast forward to last season's regular season showdown in Baton Rouge and McCarron had developed into the country's most efficient passer leading his team down the field for a game-winning touchdown that cleared the Tide's return to the national championship.

WR Kevin Norwood: Maybe more so than any other player, Norwood has been the Tide's savior against LSU the past two seasons. His leaping catch over Tyrann Mathieu during the championship game was the flourishing touch on an otherwise stellar performance. And his late-game theatrics, catching four consecutive first-down passes in the final drive against LSU this past season, was the type of showing that has earned him the title of a "big-game player."

S Mark Barron: Barron showed up every time Alabama and LSU met on the gridiron. He had seven tackles in each of the regular season match ups from 2009-11 and came away with a tackle for loss in the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans.

Goat of the rivalry: It was the "Game of the Century" and it didn't go Alabama's way. The defense's played spectacularly, the offenses moved the ball just enough but the Tide kickers didn't hold up their end of the bargain in the 2011 regular season matchup. Cade Foster, Alabama's long-range specialist, couldn't split the uprights three times, missing attempts of 44 and 50 in the first quarter and then a 52-yard attempt in overtime.

LSU's stars of the rivalry

S Eric Reid: His interception at the 1-yard line in the 2011 game kept Alabama from getting a score that would have kept the game from going into overtime. If LSU had not laid an egg in the rematch, his wrestling the ball away from Alabama tight end Michael Williams might have been looked back on as the play of the season in college football.

S Chad Jones: In the Tigers' come-from-behind 41-34 win in 2007, he had two sacks, including one that forced a fumble from Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson, setting up LSU's winning touchdown.

WR Demetrius Byrd: In the 2007 game, he caught six passes for 144 yards and a touchdown and had 10 catches for 195 yards and two touchdowns in two games against the Tide in 2007 and 08.

K Drew Alleman: He was perfect in three field goal attempts in LSU's 9-6 overtime win in 2011, accounting for all of LSU's points. His consistency stood in start contrast to Alabama's kickers, who combined to go 2-for-6 on field goals that night.

QB Zach Mettenberger: He had the best game of his junior season in 2012, going 24-for-35 for a career-high 298 yards in Alabama's 21-17 win.

Goat of the rivalry: Jordan Jefferson takes a lot of blame for LSU sputtering into neutral in the 21-0 loss in the 2012 BCS title game as he passed for a mere 53 yards. But if Jarrett Lee had not struggled so mightily in LSU's 9-6 regular-season win, Jefferson may not have even started the game. Lee, the SEC's leader in passing efficiency entering the regular-season meeting, went 3-for-7 through the air and was picked off twice before getting benched for Jefferson.