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Preview: Tigers Travel to Tuscaloosa to Face Alabama in Primetime

by Harrison Valentine | Digital Media Graduate Assistant
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Preview: Tigers Travel to Tuscaloosa to Face Alabama in Primetime

No. 14 LSU travels to Tuscaloosa for a primetime showdown with No. 8 Alabama on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Kickoff is set for 6:45 p.m. CT on CBS and the LSU Sports Radio Network.

The first Saturday in November has traditionally gone a long way in determining the winner of the SEC Western Division, and this contest will be no different. In fact, it will be the 18th time since 2002 (a span of 23 games) that both teams enter the game ranked in the Top 25.

“Certainly an exciting week,” said head coach Brian Kelly on Monday. “We get an opportunity to test ourselves against an outstanding football team in Alabama. It’s one of those games that puts you in position to challenge for an SEC championship.”

LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Jayden Daniels will look to lead the Tigers’ high-powered offense into a hostile environment and continue their streak of dominant play, featuring a school-record seven consecutive games of 500 yards or more of total offense and a school-best four straight games of 48 points or more.

The California Kid leads the nation in total offense (386.8), passing touchdowns (25), pass efficiency (204.3 rating), and yards per attempt (11.5), making him Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated quarterback (92.3) so far this season.

Daniels has had great weapons at his disposal all year long, highlighted by the nation’s leader in receiving yards (Malik Nabers with 981) and receiving touchdowns (Brian Thomas with 11). Nabers has recorded 56 receptions for 981 yards and 9 touchdowns, while Thomas has 42 catches for 732 yards and 11 scores.

Running back Logan Diggs is also currently ranked No. 5 in the SEC in rushing at 87.3 yards per game (611 yards, 6 TDs in 7 games), providing the offense with a balanced attack.

“Jayden is a great teammate and a great team captain,” said Diggs. “His play talks for itself. The type of person he is puts it over the top. I bet that, knowing him, the Heisman is the last thing on his mind right now.”

Defensively, LSU is coming off a 62-0 shutout of Army in Tiger Stadium, holding the Black Knights to just 193 yards of total offense in which linebacker Omar Speights led the team in tackles with nine, while Harold Perkins Jr. posted seven as well. Cornerback Andre’ Sam also flashed in the secondary, finishing with three tackles, two interceptions and a pass breakup.

There’s work to be done, but after posting three formidable outings against Missouri, Auburn and Army, Coach Kelly believes the unit may be finding a groove at the right time heading into a consequential month of November.

“I think we’ve made steady progress,” Kelly said. “We’re still a work in progress but we’re getting better. Our practice (Thursday) was night and day to where it was against Missouri. That’s preparation, but we have to perform. We have to have 11 guys executing together.”

The Tide are led by sophomore quarterback Jalen Milroe, who has accounted for 1,617 yards passing and 13 touchdowns, along with 142 yards with his legs this season. Senior running back Jase McClellan leads the team in rushing with 569 yards on 122 carries and four touchdown scores. Jermaine Burton leads Alabama receivers with 508 yards on 23 catches for five touchdowns, while Isaiah Bond adds 360 yards on 23 receptions for three touchdowns.

Defensively, Caleb Downs leads the team with 63 tackles and two interceptions. Deontae Lawson has tallied 49 of his own, while Jaylen Key totals 45 tackles and a pick. The Tigers will also have to account for veteran linebacker Dallas Turner, who’s recorded 34 tackles, eight sacks and two forced fumbles.

“We have to raise our level of level of preparation this week,” Kelly said. “It’s not about rising up to the competition, it’s rising to the level of preparation necessary to play an outstanding football team in all three phases.”