Football preview: LSU comes to Alabama for game of the year, UAB looks for road recovery at Southern Miss

Football preview: LSU comes to Alabama for game of the year, UAB looks for road recovery at Southern Miss
Nick Saban and his Alabama Crimson Tide face their toughest test of the season at Bryant-Denny Stadium this weekend, and the rare experience of playing a higher-ranked opponent, the LSU Tigers. (Kent Gidley/University of Alabama Athletics) listed the 50 top college football Games of the Century. To the surprise of no one in the Southeastern Conference, No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 5, 2011, was at the top of the list.

But the Bengal Tigers’ 9-6 win over the Crimson Tide could be supplanted by the next meeting between the two SEC West rivals at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS.

The Associated Press ranks LSU No. 1 and Alabama No. 2. In the first College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday, LSU ranks No. 2 and Bama No. 3 behind No. 1 Ohio State.

While this is the latest Game of the Century, few would expect a repeat of the game in which the teams amassed just 15 points between them. Each squad has a prolific offense. The oft-asked question regards the condition of Alabama junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after he sustained a high right ankle sprain in the Tide’s victory over Tennessee.

The quarterback question will be a game-time decision for Alabama this week, coach Nick Saban says. Mac Jones, pictured, who led the Tide to victory against Arkansas, is a possibility. Starter Tua Tagovailoa suffered an ankle sprain almost three weeks ago but has been practicing with the team and will play if he’s able. (Kristen Taylor/University of Alabama Athletics)

“If he can play in a  game it’ll be a game-time decision,” coach Nick Saban said in his weekly press conference. “He did practice two days last week. If he goes out there … and he looks good, then his rep-count is going to go up and we’ll prepare him as if he’s going to have an opportunity to play in the game. If he has a setback during the week, we can’t really control that, but that would change the plan.”

Mac Jones started for Alabama in the team’s victory nearly two weeks ago against Arkansas. Saban said the top two QBs got about the same reps in practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

UAB is coming off a 30-7 loss at Tennessee. But coach Bill Clark said whether the Blazers notched a win or a loss against the Vols, their priority would remain the same.

“When that one’s over, we are moving to the next one, period,” the coach said. “We went in it to win the game. We gave great effort, but my big concern was when it was over to get our eyes on this one and not have any lingering effects from that last game, good or bad.”

“This one” is UAB’s game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Southern Miss on the NFL Network. The Blazers control their fate when it comes to a repeat trip to the Conference USA Championship Game.

“This is what we worked for, to have our own destiny in our hands, to have a chance to go back (to the league championship game),” Clark said. “We’re not looking ahead. Each game is important (and) this one’s huge.”

In other college action:

Miles at Tuskegee: The annual battle for the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s West Division title happens at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Golden Bears, the defending SIAC champions, are 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the league. The home-standing Golden Tigers are 5-4 overall and also 4-1 in SIAC action.

Birmingham-Southern at Trinity: There’s a logjam at the top of the Southern Athletic Association football standings. BSC, Berry and Trinity are each 5-1 in the league. Berry, which lost to the Panthers in October, and BSC’s opponent this week are 6-2 overall; Southern is 7-1. The victor gets a huge leg up in the title chase. Kickoff in Texas on Saturday is at 1 p.m.

N.C. Wesleyan at Huntingdon: The BSC Panthers are not the only Division III state team bidding for a conference crown. So, too, are their in-state rival Hawks, who are 6-2 overall and 5-0 in the USA South Athletic Conference. Huntingdon hosts the Battling Bishops (4-4 and 3-2 in the league) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Tuskegee hosts Miles this weekend in the battle for the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s West Division title. (Tuskegee University Athletics)

Jacksonville State at Tennessee Tech: The Gamecocks (6-4 overall and 3-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference) fell 22-17 last week at OVC-leading University of Tennessee at Martin. Next up is a 1:30 p.m. Saturday meeting against the Golden Eagles.

Jackson State at Alabama A&M: Despite Aqeel Glass completing 29 of 37 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns, the Bulldogs’ bid for a berth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game took a hit when they lost 35-31 at Southern. At 1 p.m. Saturday, they welcome the Tigers, who, at 3-0-1 in the league, still have title aspirations.

Alabama State at Texas Southern: The Hornets notched their first shutout of the season last week, blanking Mississippi Valley State 27-0. Up next is a 2 p.m. Saturday contest in Houston, Texas.

North Alabama at Monmouth: Joe Gurley kicked a 20-yard field goal as time expired to lift UNA to a 25-24 win over Campbell last week, snapping a three-game Lions losing skid and handing the Camels just their second loss of the season. The Lions (3-6) now face the Hawks at 11 a.m. Central on Saturday in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

South Alabama at Texas State: The Jaguars (1-7) take on the Bobcats at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Mississippi College at West Alabama: The Choctaws come calling on the Tigers (5-4, 2-4 Gulf South Conference) at noon Saturday.

Chattanooga at Samford: A triple-overtime, 36-33 loss to Mercer left the Bulldogs 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the Southern Conference. Samford looks to pull its overall record to .500 at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Georgia Southern at Troy: The Trojans (3-5 overall) welcome the Eagles for homecoming at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Off this weekend: Auburn.


Class 7A: James Clemens is the No. 4 team in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association ranking and Vestavia Hills is No. 8. The Rebels visit the Jets on Friday to begin the playoffs in the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Class 6A: No. 7 Helena welcomes No. 9 Clay-Chalkville on Friday.

Class 5A: Chilton County (6-4) hosts No. 3 Pleasant Grove (9-1) on Friday.

Class 4A: Hokes Bluff (7-3) heads to No. 4 Northside (9-1) on Friday.

Class 3A: B.B. Comer (5-5) closed out the regular season with a two-game winning streak, which included beating Weaver 68-13. The Tigers head to Fultondale Friday to face the 8-2 Wildcats.

Class 2A: No. 9 Aliceville (8-2) welcomes Westbrook Christian (7-3).

Class 1A: No. 10 Millry (9-1) is home to Florala (7-3).

AISA: No. 10 Glenwood heads to Macon East to begin the playoffs in that league.

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