TUSCALOOSA – In the heart of the Deep South, there are must-see games, and then there is LSU vs. Alabama. Will Leonard Fournette cement his Heisman candidacy in Tuscaloosa vs. the Crimson Tide?
While bitter rivalry games such Alabama-Auburn, Florida-Georgia and Ole Miss-Mississippi State are naturally more prevalent towards the end of the season, there is perhaps no bigger game circled on the calendar during the season than when the Bayou Bengals lock horns with the Crimson Tide.
In a game that has a—dare I say, old-school Big Ten thanks to their own coaches in Les Miles and Nick Saban—run-first slobber-knocker look and feel to it, LSU-Bama is the proverbial mid-season appetizer before the rivalry game main course.
Combine that with Alabama winning the last four straight meetings, and you have the makings of another instant classic between these two SEC powerhouses.
Fournette, LSU’s 6’1 230-pound stud tailback from New Orleans, has gone on a Herschel Walker-esque rampage in rushing for 1,352 yards and 15 touchdowns on 176 carries. In averaging 7.7 yards per carry and 169 yards a game, he is the favorite to bring home LSU’s first Heisman Trophy winner since Billy Cannon in 1959.
Currently, the subject of an NCAA investigation in which his family members may have violated NCAA rules in profiting from his likeness, the prospect of possible sanctions casts a dark cloud over the second-ranked College Football Playoff seed Tigers. That along with facing the fourth-seeded Tide on the road in a hostile environment will only add to the growing tension.
In what will be another traditionally physical, low-scoring contest, Fournette will be facing one of the nation’s top defenses in Alabama(3rd in the NCAA in allowing 78.5 yards), which will be more than motivated in shutting down the soph sensation while ruining a bitter rival’s national title hopes.
With all due respect and much apologies to the OTHER high-profile running back across the sidelines in Alabama’s Derrick Henry, Fournette is the main marquee name that many across the country will tune in to watch what will be another instant classic.
Violations or not, Fournette is worth watching. If he has another monster game in Tuscaloosa against the Tide, then it wouldn’t too far-fetched to proclaim him it’s next recipient.