Countdown to kickoff: LSU at Alabama

College football’s top two ranked teams square off in prime time on Saturday as No. 1-ranked LSU travels to Tuscaloosa to face No. 2 Alabama in the first regular season matchup of teams ranked 1-2 in SEC history. Kickoff for the historical matchup is set for 7:11 p.m. on CBS.

LSU and Alabama enter the contest with identical records of 8-0 overall and 5-0 in league play. Both teams had an open date last Saturday. LSU beat Auburn, 45-10, in its last contest on Oct. 22 stretching its school-record of consecutive wins by double-figures to start a season to eight and to overall double-figure wins to nine. Alabama, which has won all eight of its games by double-digits, beat Tennessee, 37-6, in its last outing. At 8-0, LSU is off to its best start since winning its first nine games in 1973. LSU continues to be ranked No. 1 in all of the major polls – AP, USA Today Coaches, and Harris Interactive. The Tigers are also No. 1 in the BCS for the third straight week. Alabama is ranked No. 2 in all major polls, including the BCS. Alabama represents the sixth Top 25 team that LSU has faced this season.

LSU is playing its fifth straight game as the nation’s No. 1 ranked team – the longest stretch since 1959. LSU is 18-3 all-time in games played as the nation’s No. 1 ranked team, which includes a 6-2 mark under Les Miles. LSU brings one of the top defenses in the nation into the Alabama game as the Tigers are ranked in the top 10 nationally in four major categories – scoring defense (3rd at 11.5), rush defense (3rd at 76.6), pass efficiency defense (5th with 96.48 rating), and total defense (4th at 251.4).

Offensively, LSU is second in the SEC in scoring with 39.2 points per game as the Tigers have scored 30 or more points in seven of their first eight games. LSU is averaging 372.1 total yards per game (189.0 rushing, 183.1 passing). QB Jarrett Lee has completed 63.2 percent of his passes (98-of-155) for 1,250 yards, 13TDs and just 1 interception. Backup QB Jordan Jefferson has added 111 rushing yards and 2 TDs. He’s also thrown for 123 yards and a pair of scores. A trio of sophomores lead the Tigers in rushing – Spencer Ware (512 yards, 6 TDs), Michael Ford (441 yards, 6 TDs) and Alfred Blue (252 yards, 4 TDs). Rueben Randle (33 catches, 638 yards, 7 TDs) and true freshman WR Odell Beckham Jr. (27 catches, 334 yards, 2 TDs) lead the Tigers in receiving. Defensively, LSU has allowed just four TDs in its five SEC games (1 each to Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Auburn) and the Tigers have held their first five conference opponents to a combined 41 points. S Brandon Taylor leads the Tigers in tackles with 48, while CB Morris Claiborne is tops on the team in interceptions with 3. CB Tyrann Mathieu continues to be LSU’s top all-around defender with 42 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 5 PBUs, 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions and 1.5 sacks. Other defensive standouts include DE Sam Montgomery (27 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks), S Eric Reid (43 tackles, 1 int.), DT Bennie Logan (27 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) and DE Barkevious Mingo (19 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks).

Saturday’s game marks the first 1 vs. 2 regular season matchup in SEC history. It’s also the first during the regular season in college football since Michigan-Ohio State in November of 2006.

• Both LSU and Alabama have won all of their games this year by double-figures.

• LSU and Alabama are meeting as undefeated teams in November for third time – 1972 LSU 7-0, Alabama 8-0; and 1973 9-0, Alabama 9-0.

• In 32 quarters of action, LSU’s defense has held opponents without a TD in 24 quarters.

• LSU has scored first in every game this year.

• LSU is 8-0 for the first time since 1973 and just the fourth time in school history. LSU won its first 8 games in 1908, ‘58, and ‘73.

• In 480 minutes of action this year, LSU has trailed for just 6 minutes and 33 seconds. LSU hasn’t trailed since the 2Q of the Oregon game in week 1.

Series Notes: LSU and Alabama meet for the 75th time overall on Saturday with the Crimson Tide leading the series, 45-24-5 … The teams have met every year since 1964 … First meeting came in Baton Rouge in 1895 (LSU won 12-6) … LSU is 8-10 vs. Alabama in games played in Tuscaloosa … LSU is 7-3 vs. Alabama in the last 10 meetings and the Tigers hold an 8-3 advantage in games played since 2000 … LSU won last year in Baton Rouge, 24-21, snapping an Alabama 2-game winning streak in the series … LSU has won five of the last seven games between the teams in Tuscaloosa dating back to a 27-0 LSU victory in 1997 … Since 1996, the home team in the series has won just six times in 15 tries (LSU won four of the six) ... Current Alabama coach Nick Saban served as LSU’s head coach for five years from 2000-04 … LSU coach Les Miles is 4-2 vs. Alabama, which includes a 2-1 mark in games played in Tuscaloosa … Teams have gone to overtime in two of Miles’ six games against Alabama (2005, LSU won 16-13; 2008, Alabama won 27-21) … Miles is currently tied with Saban as the only coaches in LSU history to beat Alabama four times.

Jarrett Lee threw for 165 yards and a pair of TDs and true freshman Kenny Hilliard from Patterson had his breakout game, rushing for 65 yards and two scores, as LSU rolled to a 45-10 win over 19th-ranked Auburn in Tiger Stadium. Playing without five starters for various reasons, LSU wasted little time in taking control of the game as the Tigers drove 76 yards on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead on a 9-yard run by Hilliard. After Auburn pulled to within 7-3 on a field goal late in the first quarter, LSU scored 38 unanswered points. Rueben Randle caught a 42-yard TD pass from Jordan Jefferson with five minutes left in the first half and then hauled in a 46-yard scoring pass from Lee with 40 seconds left in the second quarter as the Tigers led 21-3 at halftime. LSU blew the game open early in the third quarter, scoring three TDs in a two-minute span, extending a 21-3 lead to 42-3 at the 7:27 mark in the third quarter following a 28-yard interception return for a TD by Ron Brooks. LSU’s other scores during that 21-point burst came on a 10-yard pass from Lee to Russell Shepard and a 1-yard run by Hilliard. Drew Alleman kicked a 36-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter for the Tigers. Auburn got its only TD of the game on LSU’s second team defense with just over two minutes left in the game. For the game, LSU racked up 393 total yards (174 rushing, 219 passing), while holding Auburn to only 248 total yards. Michael Ford led the Tigers with 82 rushing yards, while Randle caught five passes for 106 yards and a pair of scores. LSU went without an offensive turnover for the fifth straight game.

Additional Storylines

• LSU went the entire month of October without a turnover. LSU has turned the ball over just three times this year (2 fumbles, 1 interception) with its last turnover coming in the 4Q against Mississippi State in Week 3. LSU has gone 336 offensive snaps, 59 possessions and 174 minutes and 52 seconds of possession time since its last turnover.

• LSU’s given up just 41 points in its first five SEC games, the fewest since 1985 when the Tigers allowed 41 points in their first five league games.

• LSU has won 16 straight games at night, which includes six in a row on the road. LSU’s last night game loss came against No. 1-ranked Florida, 13-3, in Tiger Stadium in 2009. LSU’s last road game night loss came in 2008 against Florida by a 51-21 count. Both of those games were televised on CBS.

• LSU is 4-1 following an open date under Les Miles.

• LSU is 48-4 overall in night games under Les Miles, which includes an 11-1 record in away night games. LSU is 31-1 under Miles in games played on a Saturday night, no matter the location.

• LSU has won 17 straight games when winning the turnover battle. Under Les Miles, LSU is 33-4 when forcing more turnovers than they give up.

• LSU has forced 18 turnovers this year and the Tigers have scored points either on the turnover or on the ensuing drive 11 times (9 TDs, 2 FG).

• LSU QBs Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee are the only quarterbacks in the SEC who have each thrown for 30 TD passes in their career. Lee (31) and Jefferson (30) are both in the top 10 in school history in that category.

• Jarrett Lee has thrown at least 1 TD pass in all eight games this year. He’s the first LSU QB to throw at least one 1 TD pass in the first 8 games of a season since 1998 when Herb Tyler did it in the first 10 games.

No. 1 vs. No. 2

This weekend’s matchup will feature a rare regular season No. 1 vs. No. 2, including the first matchup of its kind in the SEC. In the 76 seasons of the AP poll, the top-ranked teams have met only 22 times in the regular season. Saturday’s contest will be the 23rd. The LSU-Alabama game will be the first since No. 1 Ohio State edged No. 2 Michigan, 42-39, in 2006.

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