Didn’t see this one coming, did ya?
Ahead of next Saturday’s latest edition of The Game of the Century, No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama are resting comfortably in their respective domiciles in Week 10 as each SEC West school gets its second, and last, bye of the 2019 regular season. Seeing as there is no chance that either team can lose this weekend, it’s been a foregone conclusion to everyone but those in the Land of 10,000 Lakes that the Worldwide Leader will take its College GameDay traveling roadshow to the Yellowhammer State and set up camp in Tuscaloosa.
Early Saturday afternoon, ESPN confirmed that, yes, its wildly-popular pregame show will make the trek to the ‘Bama campus for the massive 1-2 matchup.
Suffice to say, unlike with No. 5 Penn State-No. 13 Minnesota — the Gophers remain one of 11 Power Five schools that have never hosted GameDay — there’s some history behind this SEC matchup.
Almost eight years ago to the day this latest renewal of the SEC West rivalry will be played, No. 1 LSU’s three three-run homers were enough to top No. 2 Alabama’s pair of three-run shots in what marked the first-ever 1-2 regular-season game in SEC history.
In between this latest 1-2 regular-season matchup and the last, though, the Crimson Tide has had the Bayou Bengals’ number. To say the least.
- 2018 — No. 1 Alabama 29, No. 4 LSU 0 in Baton Rouge
- 2017 — No. 1 Alabama 24, No. 19 LSU 10 in Tuscaloosa
- 2016 — No. 1 Alabama 10, No. 15 LSU 0 in Baton Rouge
- 2015 — No. 7 Alabama 30, No. 4 LSU 16 in Tuscaloosa
- 2014 — No. 4 Alabama 20, No. 14 LSU 13 in Baton Rouge
- 2013 — No. 1 Alabama 38, No. 10 LSU 17 in Tuscaloosa
- 2012 — No. 1 Alabama 21, No. 5 LSU 17 in Baton Rouge
- 2012 — No. 2 Alabama 21, No. 1 LSU 0 in BCS Championship Game
In the remaining seven days between now and the 3:30 ET kickoff, though, the overriding storyline will continue to be the status of Tua Tagovailoa.
The Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback and at-one-point Heisman Trophy frontrunner, Tagovailoa suffered a high-ankle sprain in the win over rival Tennessee in Week 8 and didn’t play this past Saturday in the blowout win over Arkansas. Following surgery, the junior’s return to the playing field has been a fluid situation.
After easily getting past the Razorbacks, and saying he’s “doing really, really well,” Nick Saban stated that he expected a midweek (this week) return to practice for Tagovailoa; that indeed happened Wednesday, although the head coach, not surprisingly, continued to hold his Tua availability cards close to the vest as the junior is officially listed as a game-time decision.
While the signs continue to point to Tagovailoa taking the field in Tuscaloosa a week from today, there’s always the possibility the quarterback could suffer a setback — or Saban could be blowing smoke — and be sidelined for the highly-anticipated matchup. If that’s the case, Mac Jones would make the second, and easily most important, start of his collegiate career.
In the first against the woeful Razorbacks, the sophomore played the role of game manager very effectively in completing 16-of-20 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns… in the first half. Playing just a few minutes into the third quarter, Jones would add another touchdown pass on a pair of completions to finish the day 18-22 for 235 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.