It has become, arguably, the most important rivalry in college football. Saturday marks the eighth meeting of Alabama and LSU since Nick Saban became head coach of the Crimson Tide in 2007. This will be the fifth time in those eight meetings that one of the teams has been sitting atop the BCS standings. On two of the occasions that neither team was ranked No. 1 heading into the matchup, the Bama-LSU winner still went on to capture the national championship. In other words, obvious BCS title implications have existed for all but one of the past eight meetings (No. 6 Bama vs. No. 10 LSU in 2010) -- and even in that year, it turned out that Alabama would've finished second in the BCS standings if it had run the table.
The stakes have been huge, and the games have lived up to the hype. Only one of those matchups -- the BCS national championship game for the 2011 season -- was not decided by a single-digit margin. And that makes the double-digit point spread assigned by Vegas bookmakers this week seem excessive. Recent history says LSU matches up well with Alabama and should have as good a chance as any team to beat the Crimson Tide. That raises two important questions: What does it take to beat Alabama? And does LSU have it?