Alabama vs. LSU: Examining a longtime rivalry

Sports

FILE – In this Nov. 4, 2017, file photo, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, left, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban meet in the center of the field before an NCAA college football game, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. For the first time in college football history, there will be two games matching teams of at least 8-0 on the same day, according to ESPN Facts and Info. In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, LSU and the Crimson Tide will play the first regular-season game matching AP Nos. 1 and 2 since 2011 _ when No. 1 LSU beat No. 2 Alabama 9-6 in overtime. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Saturday will be a big day in Tuscaloosa.

Not only will it mark the 84th time Alabama’s and Louisiana State University’s football teams have faced off, but the game will determine who makes the College Football Playoffs.  LSU is currently ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll while Alabama is ranked No. 2. An Alabama victory will ensure the Tide makes the playoffs.

Saturday’s match mirrors 2011, when LSU and Alabama were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, going into the game. LSU ultimately won the game 9-6 in overtime.

However, the rivalry stretches much further than that. The two teams have been playing one another since 1895. Alabama currently leads the rivalry 53-25-5. Between the two schools, LSU longest winning streak against Alabama was between 2003 and 2007. However, Alabama has dominated the rivalry in recent years, winning every year since 2012.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban remains a central and polarizing figure in the rivalry. Saban led the Tigers between 2000 and 2004, beating Alabama four times during that period and going on to win the national championship in 2003.

Saban’s subsequent departure to lead Miami Dolphins in 2004 was a move many LSU fans did not like, one that fuels the rivalry. However, Saban himself has expressed different feelings about the situation in recent years.

“As it turns out, what I learned from that experience in hindsight was, it was a huge mistake to leave college football,” Saban told the Lafayette Daily Advertiser last month. “And I know a lot of LSU fans think I left for whatever reasons, but I left because I wanted to be a pro coach, or thought I wanted to be a pro coach. We loved LSU. We worked hard to build the program. If there was one thing professionally that I would do over again, it would’ve been not to leave LSU.”

Nevertheless, despite the way Saban left, the coach will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame next year.

Kirk Herbstreit, co-host of ESPN’s “College GameDay,” said the rivalry between the two schools has been electric over the years.

“This game has always impacted the fan base,” Herbstreit said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

For the 10th time, ESPN’s “College GameDay” will broadcast from the Alabama-LSU game Saturday morning. Saban is scheduled to appear on the panel to talk about the game.

“We’re going to have a lot of energy out here,” Herbstreit said.

The significance of the game will be heightened with the fact that President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend the game.

Kickoff for this weekend’s game is at 2:30 p.m. CST.

Interesting facts

  • This will be the first time a U.S. President has attended an Alabama-LSU game. It’s the third time Alabama will have played in front of a sitting president, and the second for LSU. Last year, Trump witnessed the Tide’s national championship 26-23 win against Georgia at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
  • The Alabama-LSU game has been played in other places than Tuscaloosa and Death Valley. Over the years, the game has been played in Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham and New Orleans.
  • The most Alabama has ever beaten LSU was in 1922, when they won 47-3.
  • The most LSU has beaten Alabama was in 1957, when the Tigers won 28-0.

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