No. 4 Alabama (7-1) is a 6.5-point favorite against No. 2 LSU (7-0) on Saturday, a gigantic spread considering that LSU is undefeated, tough, well-coached, and, oh yeah, rosters the Heisman frontrunner.
“I am surprised the line has been that big,” Baton Rouge sports columnist Scott Rabalais said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “It’s kind of stayed around seven, six-and-a-half the whole time. Alabama has not covered at home at all this year. They’re 0-5 against the spread, and of course the one game they lost was at home against Ole Miss and they’re coming off a game against Tennessee where they had to come from behind late in the game to win by five. LSU, kind of the same thing at home. They haven’t been a good home favorite at times this year, but on the road, they’re better.”
Interestingly enough, the road team has fared fairly well in this series. Since 1982, the road team is 23-9-1, with LSU winning 11 of those games in Tuscaloosa.
“Now, what happen in 1985 has nothing to do with what happens this year,” Rabalais said, “but those are interesting trends and it shows you the kind of series it has been. Those things tend to favor the number for LSU.”
LSU most recently won in Tuscaloosa in 2011. Alabama then won the rematch in the national championship and has since won three straight regular-season games against the Tigers.
“Saban, he’s the best,” Rabalais said. “He and Urban Meyer, they’re 1-2, 2-1, however you like to say it. They’ve recruited very well, they’ve had the No. 1 recruiting classes in the country and they’ve come through in the clutch at the end. They’ve bene a little mentally tougher than LSU has been. They’ve needed a drive to win the game in 2012 in Baton Rouge. They got it. They needed a drive to tie the game with a field goal late in the game and win it in overtime, they did it last year in Baton Rouge. LSU has got to match their intensity and their desire to win this game. They’re just superior in that respect. We saw that Alabama, they haven’t always played great this year. We saw how they played when they had a big showdown against Georgia on the road. Just wiped the field with Georgia. We saw how they played at Texas A&M. They had three pick-sixes and pulled away in that game.
“LSU has got to be able to match their focus and intensity, and that’s something I think LSU has kind of lacked at times,” Rabalais continued. “But they’re an older team this year, a little more experienced. They’ve played a lot of freshmen at LSU the last few years, including Leonard Fournette last year ad some other key players. They’ve been through the wars a little bit and I think they’re a little better equipped to handle this, so they wont be intimidated by the atmosphere at Bryant-Denny. That’s for sure.”