With each home venue seating more than 100,000 fans, the atmosphere for the annual contest is virtually unrivaled throughout the country.
Unfortunately for LSU, Nick Saban has owned the Tigers of late, much like he has the rest of college football. It's been six straight wins for Alabama in the game, with the Tigers having failed to score more than 20 points in each loss.
Alabama hosts this year's matchup, but there's still reason to think LSU can reverse the curse and finally get a win in the heated rivalry.
Guice Guice baby
(Photo courtesy: Action Images)
With Leonard Fournette gone, it's Derrius Guice's team now, and that's actually great news for LSU fans when it comes to the Alabama matchup. Saban owned the former Tiger great, while Guice has limited experience against the Crimson Tide. His running style should threaten Alabama's front seven more than Fournette, who too often tried a battering-ram approach that failed to produce results.
Guice was an absolute monster last season despite splitting carries, and finished with a whopping 1,387 yards with an absurd 7.6 yards per carry. With the offense firmly in his hands, the star rusher could easily be a Heisman finalist this season.
With players like Fournette and Guice in the backfield, LSU had no problem running the ball last season, but ranked 101st in the country in passing yards per game. Enter new coordinator Matt Canada to fix the anemic aerial attack while keeping the running game moving. Danny Etling may not inspire a ton of confidence at quarterback, but Canada showed with Nathan Peterman at Pitt last season that he can get production regardless of talent. Pitt's offense scored 12 more points a game under Canada's watch last season, while also averaging 30 more passing yards per contest as well.
|Stat||Pitt 2015 (pre-Canada)||Pitt 2016 (w/Canada)|
Peterman went from average college quarterback to NFL draft pick with one season of excellence, and given Canada's track record, it wouldn't be shocking to see Etling do the same. There's no question that Guice will be a dominant force in the backfield, and a solid passing game would make LSU virtually unguardable. Alabama's weakness on defense has been the secondary in recent years, and Canada should be able to attack that area in hopes of knocking off the Crimson Tide.
(Photo courtesy: Getty)
Dave Aranda is the highest-paid assistant coach in college football, and the Tigers defensive coordinator showed why with a dominant showing in 2016. His second season in the SEC will be a challenge, with six players who started 10-plus games last year now gone, but Aranda's brilliance will still shine through. Arden Key looks to be back in the fold, and the sack master should feast on the SEC West thanks to the aggressive play-calling from the coordinator.
With Alabama reloading on offense under new coordinator Brian Daboll, it wouldn't be shocking to see LSU stifle the Crismon Tide in the annual affair. Aranda was able to hold Jalen Hurts to his worst passing game of the regular season last year, and should replicate the feat with a year to prepare.
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