Looking like powerhouse again, No. 3 Alabama faces LSU

NCAA Football

Alabama is getting back on track as it prepares to host LSU on Saturday night.

The third-ranked Crimson Tide (7-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) rolled past Mississippi State and Tennessee since Texas A&M knocked them from the top spot in the polls on Oct. 9.

Alabama, which debuted at No. 2 in the first College Football Playoff ranking of the season Tuesday, is coming off a bye week. So are the Tigers (4-4, 2-3).

“We had a really good bye week,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. “I think we got some players rested up. We got some guys healed up. We also got three good workdays in where the players responded really well. I was pleased with the way last week really went.

“This year’s team has sort of steadily, I think, improved, improved their maturity, improved their consistency in performance, and that’s something that we still need to continue to work on so that we aren’t complacent about who we play, what we’re doing, how we’re improving.”

Saban said he has been pleased with the improvement shown by Bryce Young, his first-year starter at quarterback.

“I think his confidence and experience and playing with the new players that we have on offense, all of those things have contributed to that development,” Saban said. “I think one of the things that we have improved on is our ability to throw the deep ball, but I think it’s a work in progress that we need to continue to work on.”

Alabama is a four-touchdown favorite over LSU, which is just two years removed from a national championship. The Tigers previously reached an agreement on a buyout with head coach Ed Orgeron, effective at the end of the season.

The Tigers are missing several key players because of injuries, and Myles Brennan, the presumed starting quarterback before sustaining a broken arm before the start of preseason camp, is the latest player to enter the transfer portal.

LSU thought Brennan might be able to play in November, but his announcement this week that he’s leaving means Max Johnson remains the starter.

Johnson would benefit from a more consistent run game. LSU has had one of the least productive running games in the country for most of the season, though Tyrion Davis-Price ran for a school-record 287 yards and added three touchdowns in a 49-42 upset of then-No. 20 Florida three weeks ago.

Armoni Goodwin is healthy and should join fellow freshman Corey Kiner as complements to Davis-Price. Tre Bradford, who returned to LSU at the start of the season after transferring to Oklahoma in the offseason, has been cleared academically and has recovered from a hamstring injury.

“We’re going to need all four of them to play,” Orgeron said. “We need to rotate those guys, keep them fresh. We have to be 50-50. We can’t get one-dimensional with this team.”

Orgeron said the self-scouting that the coaching staff did during the bye week revealed that the Tigers have been too predictable on both sides of the ball.

“We need to have more variety,” he said. “Not much disguise. This part of the season, you can’t put much new in, but we have not been making good adjustments.”

–Field Level Media

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