It was already expected to be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup when LSU (8-0) visits Alabama (8-0) on Nov 9 (2:30 p.m. CT, CBS) in the new edition of the Game of the Century.
But the ordering took a turn for the Tigers’ liking heading into their bye week. After a 23-20 victory vs. then-No. 9 Auburn, LSU narrowly edged Alabama on Sunday to claim the top spot in the AP Top 25.
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) October 27, 2019
Alabama received four more first-place votes (21) than LSU. However, LSU earned 1,476 overall points to claim No. 1, only two more than Alabama, tying for the closest margin at No. 1 and No. 2 in the poll since 2014, according to the AP.
Alabama is on a bye this week as well.
Coincidentally, this is the first time No. 1 and No. 2 will meet in the regular season since No. 1 LSU defeated host No. 2 Alabama 9-6 (OT) in 2011. This was the last time LSU defeated Alabama. Alabama then exacted revenge by defeating LSU in the then-BCS Championship Game.
Per the AP, this will be the 26th regular-season meeting between No. 1 and No. 2 teams, including conference championship matchups. No. 1 teams hold a 15-8-2 edge vs. No. 2 teams. Altogether, No. 1 teams are 28-21-2 all-time vs. No. 2 teams.
Alabama leads the all-time series 53-25-5.
LSU is the first SEC team in the AP poll era to defeat three top-10 opponents (No. 9 Auburn, No. 9 Texas, No. 7 Florida) during its first eight games, according to ESPN Stats & Info. A fourth such victory would vault LSU past Alabama into sole possession of the top spot in the SEC West with three games to go in the regular season.
.@LSUfootball fans heading into the week like …
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 28, 2019
Regardless of the outcome, the Allstate Playoff Predictor interestingly projects a 22 percent chance that Alabama and LSU (along with Clemson and Ohio State) will be in the College Football Playoff.
The epic SEC clash will feature a pair of quarterbacks vying for the Heisman Trophy: LSU’s Joe Burrow (2,805 yards, 30 touchdowns, four interceptions) and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (2,166 yards, 27 touchdowns, 2 interceptions). ESPN’s Heisman Watch has Burrow at No. 1 and Tagovailoa at No. 4.
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) October 29, 2019
Tagovailoa missed Alabama’s 48-7 victory vs. Arkansas with a sprained ankle but is expected to be back in time for the showdown.
“We expect him to return to practice by midweek this week,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said to ESPN. “I don’t know what he’ll be able to do or how much. But that’s sort of the prognosis for where we are right now.”
Meanwhile, on Saturday Burrow took a hard hit from Auburn defensive back Javaris Davis in the second quarter but finished with 327 yards and a touchdown through the air while adding another score on the ground.
It was exactly the kind of fight LSU will need if they’re going to emerge from Tuscaloosa victorious and hold onto the No. 1 spot.
“If your quarterback shows toughness like that, it can kind of get your team going,” Burrow said to ESPN. “If you lay down on the field and don’t hop right back up, it shows your team that you are not really into it.”