Hopes for a national championship for both Alabama and LSU rest on Saturday's game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Here are three individual battles to watch that will be key to the outcome:
1) LSU RB Leonard Fournette vs. Alabama LB Reggie Ragland
The Heisman Trophy frontrunner vs. the potential Butkus Award-winning linebacker? Yeah, this one's worth an eyeball. Fournette is going to get his yards because he's Leonard Fournette, and because no defense can plug the hole on every single down. But Ragland's ability to stuff the run in both the A gaps and B gaps is as effective as any linebacker in the country. There will be some serious collisions between these two, and they won't all have the same winner.
2) LSU CB Tre'Davious White vs. Alabama WR Calvin Ridley
Alabama's offense can't survive on Derrick Henry alone in this game, because LSU defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will stack the box as needed to make sure Jake Coker has to hold up his end. That's where White and Ridley come in, a pair of wonderfully talented athletes who will matchup up in one-on-one coverage quite a bit, presuming White's knee injury doesn't slow him too much. Ridley has developed into Alabama's top receiver as a freshman and must poke some holes in the LSU secondary to keep LSU's defense more honest.
3) LSU OL Vadal Alexander vs. Alabama DL Jarran Reed
At about 650 pounds between them, this is truly a heavyweight battle in the middle of the line of scrimmage. Reed played arguably his best game of the season last year against the Tigers, so the LSU offensive line will be well aware of his presence. Alexander, a right tackle, will see several different faces across from him Saturday and Reed is only one of them. But the Tigers might choose to double team Reed excessively if he establishes himself early.