Five things to know about Alabama prior to LSU showdown in Week 10

LSU and Alabama will kick off in Tuscaloosa at 6:45 p.m. CT on Saturday night.

The game is back in the CBS primetime slot for the first time since 2020.

Neither team has had an ideal season to this point, but the narrative can change with a win on Saturday night.

For Alabama, that means cementing its status as a national title contender. For LSU, it could potentially mean getting back in the playoff race despite losing two games in September.

After a lengthy Alabama win streak in the 2010s, the series has evened out lately, with the two splitting the last four.

Before kickoff on Saturday night, here are five things you should know about the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Best defense LSU's faced this year

Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama defense ranks sixth in SP+ and fourth in FEI. That makes it the toughest defense LSU’s faced all year, by a wide margin too. LSU has played a few top-40 defenses but has yet to face a top-15 unit.

Everything has come easy to this LSU offense as of late. It scored 48 points or more in four straight games and crossed the 40 threshold in all but two games this season.

In contrast, the Alabama defense has only allowed a team to score more than 21 points once this year. It came against Texas in week two, where the Tide allowed 34.

Kevin Steele’s unit allows 17.6 points per game in conference play. That’s second in the SEC, only trailing Georgia.

The wide receivers are rounding into form

Alabama got used to having a first-round talent at wide receiver every year. From Julio Jones to Amari Cooper to Jaylen Waddle, it’s had some good ones.

Alabama’s lacked at that spot the last couple of seasons, at least by its standards. The recruiting is still there, but it hasn’t gotten All-American-level play.

But the group began to round into form in October. According to PFF, only LSU’s Malik Nabers graded out better than Alabama WR Jermaine Burton over the last four weeks.

Burton’s averaging 106 yards per game over his last three and came up with some pivotal catches his last time out against Tennessee.

Isaiah Bond’s also emerged as one of the top big-play threats in the SEC and ranks seventh in the conference in yards per route run over the last four weeks.

This won’t be the best receiver room LSU’s faced this year, but Alabama figured it out at a bad time for LSU. The Tigers’ young secondary will be tested.

Offense is explosive

(Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images)

The Alabama offense lacks consistency, but it still hits on its fair share of explosive plays.

The Crimson Tide ranks seventh nationally in explosive play rate (20-yard passes and 10-yard runs).

And while the unit ranks just 65th in yards/play, it ranks 29th in points/play. When it does get rolling, it doesn’t take many plays to score.

The same could be said for Jalen Milroe, who isn’t consistent, but still ranks third nationally in yards per attempt. When he gets in open space, he’s tough to bring down too.

Alabama’s explosiveness combined with LSU’s high-flying offense and lackluster defense means we could be in for a shootout.

This isn't your typical Alabama offensive line

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama built its dynasty on bullying teams in the trenches. For years, nobody could compete with what Alabama had in the trenches as it turned out NFL linemen year after year.

It’s a different story this year. Jalen Milroe’s under pressure on 39.1% of his dropbacks and the Tide OL ranks middle of the pack in the SEC in PFF pass blocking grade.

True freshmen left tackle Kadyn Proctor ranks last among SEC tackles in pass blocking efficiency, allowing 23 pressures so far this year. Up the middle, Seth McLaughlin’s allowed 10 pressures and ranks 15th among qualified SEC centers in pass blocking grade.

LSU’s DL took a hit with Mekhi Wingo now out for the year, but this is still a front full with talent that can take advantage of this Bama OL.

Players to know

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve talked about Jalen Milroe and Jermaine Burton, but here are some other guys to keep an eye on Saturday night.

RT JC Latham

Right-tackle JC Latham isn’t to blame for any OL issues. He’s been one of the best players in the conference this year and putting together a strong case to be All-SEC.

CB Kool-Aid McKinstry

McKinstry is the SEC’s best corner. His matchup with Nabers is certainly one NFL scouts will have their eyes on.

DB Caleb Downs

Downs was one of the top recruits in the 2023 class and you’ll be hard pressed to find another true freshman playing as well as he is right now.

DEs Chris Braswell and Dallas Turner

Turner and Braswell form one of the best pass-rushing duos in the country. Braswell leads the SEC in sacks with nine and Turner is second with eight. Both rank top five in pass rush win rate.

Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire