This week's slate of college football does not have a lot of big time ranked match ups until late Saturday night, but who would want to miss out on one of the best rivalries in college football; LSU versus Alabama (8 PM on CBS). This match up always brings smash mouth, exciting football and this year should be no different.
Even though Alabama has been an absolute buzz saw of a team this year, LSU looks to be regaining their footing after starting the season slowly and firing their longtime head coach Les Miles. This game will be absolutely loaded with NFL level talent, so here are some key match ups to look out for.
LSU's Receivers against Alabama's secondary...
Alabama suffered a major loss against Texas A&M when their star safety, Eddie Jackson suffered a broken leg. Despite his loss, which is a big one, Alabama still has two of the best defensive backs in the country with Marlon Humphrey and Minkah Fitzpatrick (not eligible). They will have a tall task in slowing down a LSU offense that features Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre. Both Dupre and Dural are big bodied receivers with good athletic ability to burn down the field. Passing the ball is not exactly LSU's strength, but having two threats like that in the passing game always opens up a chance to make plays through the air. It will be a fun battle to watch when LSU is on offense.
LSU's Secondary against Alabama's Passing game...
When Alabama is on offense, there will be a similarly contested battle among the skill players, but it might be an even biggest task for the defenses considering how much better a quarterback Jalen Hurts is than LSU's signal caller. Jamal Adams and Tre'Davious White are both first round prospects at safety and cornerback, respectively, and have been enjoying stellar seasons for the Tigers. However, with the speed that tight end OJ Howard and receiver Calvin Ridley (non eligible) bring to the Crimson Tide offense, Adams and WHite will need to be at their best to match up with such athletes.
60 minutes of Oklahoma Drills...
One of the things I cannot wait to watch is how LSU and Alabama's stud linebackers face off against the oppositions awesome running game. While LSU will be running Derrius Guice (non eligible) and Leonard Fournette downhill at Reuben Foster, Alabama will be running Damien Harris (non eligible) and Bo Scarborough downhill at Kendell Beckwith. These teams are both made and broken with their running game, so it will be important for these linebackers to be disciplined in combatting these running backs.
Here are offensive and defensive linemen on both sides of the ball for both teams that will be considered top fifty talent:
Josh Boutte, Guard, LSU
Ethan Pocic, Center, LSU
Arden Key, DE, LSU (non eligible)
Davon Godchaux, DT, LSU
Cam Robinson, LT, Alabama
Lester Cotton, Guard, Alabama (Non Eligible)
Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Ryan Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
Tm Williams, EDGE, Alabama
Dalvin Tomlinson, DL, Alabama
Dashawn Hand, DL, Alabama
So yeah, that is a lot of names, so expect an all out battle on every snap between the offensive and defensive line. This game could be one of the most fun games of the season.
Other players to watch...
Nate Gerry, Safety, Nebraska: Quietly, Nate Gerry has been one of the best defensive backs in the country this season. The 6-2, 210 pounder has good ball skills, instincts and athleticism to go along with a fiery on field style. He has been a big part of the Cornhuskers success and he will have a big test against an explosive Ohio State offense (8 PM on ABC).
Cordrea Tankersly, Cornerback, Clemson: Coming off Clemson's biggest win of the season, it wouldn't be highly thought of for one of the best defenses in the country to face off against Syracuse (3:30 on ABC). However, Cuse's explosive receiver, Amba Etta Tawo will cause some serious problems for any team, so it will be imperative for Cordrea Tankersly to be on his A game.
Zach Cunningham, Linebacker, Vanderbilt: Zach Cunningham has quietly been one of the best linebackers in the country. This week against Auburn (12 PM on ESPN), Cunningham will be tasked with slowing down one of the best running games in the country. Auburn has been playing hot on offense recently and has a ton of weapons to run the ball with. Cunningham's speed will be incredibly important to facing down such a talented offense.
Breon Borders, Cornerback, Duke: Duke rarely has stud prospects, but Breon Borders has been a star on the Blue Devil defense this season, forcing three turnovers and nine passes defended this season. The 6-1, 185 pound cornerback will have a big match up against Isaiah Ford and the Virginia Tech Hokies (3:30 on ESPNU). Ford has been one of the better receivers in the country this year, so slowing him down will be key in upsetting Virginia Tech.