- Associated Press - Friday, November 4, 2011

No. 2 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) vs. No. 1 LSU (8-0, 5-0), 8 p.m. (CBS).

Line: Alabama by 5.

Series Record: Alabama leads 45-24-5.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

A control-your-own-destiny path to the BCS national championship game. Both teams have obstacles after this game _ Alabama visits No. 25 Auburn and LSU faces No. 8 Arkansas _ before even playing for the SEC title. Those games would seem like speed bumps compared to this one at the moment.

KEY MATCHUP

LSU QBs Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson have been a formidable duo while avoiding costly mistakes. If either can target deep threats like WR Rueben Randle downfield, it might keep the nation’s No. 1 defense from loading up against the run. Jefferson’s running ability might be one way to land a couple of punches against stout front seven.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

LSU: CBs/Return men Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu. Claiborne has three interceptions and Mathieu has forced four fumbles. Both also handle returns in special teams. In a game this closely matched, a big return or timely turnover might just be the difference.

ALABAMA: RB Trent Richardson. The Heisman Trophy candidate has already scored 18 touchdowns and is nudging up against 1,000 rushing yards. The Tigers rank third nationally in rush defense, giving up 76.6 yards per game.

FACTS & FIGURES

This is the first regular season matchup of No. 1 versus No. 2 since Michigan played Ohio State in 2006 and only the 23rd in the 76-year history of the AP poll. … Alabama’s closest game thus far has been a 16-point victory at Penn State; LSU’s 13-point wins over Oregon and at Mississippi State pass for the Tigers’ nailbiters. LSU has trailed for just 6 minutes, 33 seconds this season and hasn’t been behind since the second quarter of the opener against Oregon. … The only other times Alabama and LSU have entered their November game unbeaten were in 1972 and 1973. … LSU is off to its best start since opening 9-0 in 1973. The Tigers have won 16 straight games at night, including six in a row on the road. The last p.m. loss was to No. 1 Florida at Tiger stadium in 2009. … Somewhat slow-starting Alabama has outscored opponents 243-25 in the final three quarters.

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No. 3 Oklahoma State (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) vs. No. 17 Kansas State (7-1, 4-1), 8 p.m. (ABC).

Line: Oklahoma State by 21.

Story Continues →