Stats favor Saban in Alabama-LSU rivalryBy Elliott Propes | 11/05/2015 2:20pm
Nick Saban is preparing for his 15th Alabama-LSU rivalry game. The No. 2 LSU Tigers are coming to Tuscaloosa this Saturday to play No. 4 Alabama for the ninth straight top-25 matchup.
Since 2000, when Saban became head coach of LSU, there has been much history between the two schools. Over the 13 seasons when he was involved with the programs, the school that won the game ended the season as national champions five times. Over the 14 matchups, the mountain of stats favor Saban.
From 2000 to 2004, Nick Saban coached LSU. Saban played the Crimson Tide all five seasons and won four of them. The first two games, both teams were unranked and LSU won. The third game in 2002 was Saban’s first loss in the rivalry. The Tigers were ranked No. 14 while Alabama was No. 10 in the nation. Alabama shut out LSU 31-0. It was the most lopsided game of the rivalry Saban was a part of. The next season, Saban got revenge though, as the Tigers went on to win 27-3. Saban and the Tigers would go on to win the national championship that season, Saban’s first.
While in Baton Rouge, Saban’s LSU averaged 23.6 points per game while Alabama averaged 18.6.
Saban left LSU after the 2004 season to go to the NFL. He only coached the Miami Dolphins for two seasons before he decided to go back to college football. Alabama hired him in 2007, and if the game was not a rivalry before, it seemed to catch some steam now that the coach traded sides.
The first meeting in 2007 did not go Saban’s way, though, as Les Miles took a No. 3 ranked LSU to Tuscaloosa and beat Saban’s Crimson Tide 41-34. LSU would go on to win the national title in 2007. The game was closer than expected though, and the next several years seemed to follow suit. Miles and Saban split the first four games and then the season that defined the rivalry came in 2011.
“The Game of the Century” it was coined. No. 2 Alabama hosted No. 1 LSU. An unprecedented 45 players from the two teams would go on to play in the NFL. The game was a defensive battle and ended with a 9-6 LSU victory. Alabama would get a rematch in the national championship and won the second time around 21-0 to claim Saban’s second national championship.
Since that national championship game, Alabama has made it four straight wins. Last year’s 2014 matchup was the first one to go to overtime, and the Crimson Tide won 20-17. Saban has a 6-3 record now against the Tigers and is looking to win his seventh game this weekend. Over the nine games Saban has coached against the Tigers, Alabama averages 23.5 points per game. LSU has averaged 17.4 points per game. In all nine games, at least one team has been ranked in the top five. In eight of the nine games, both teams were ranked.
Saban owns a total record of 10-4 in the matchup. His teams have averaged a plus 5.7 point differential. Peculiarly, Saban has had much more success away from home with a record of 5-1. His home record is 4-3.
There are many numbers that go into this rivalry, and a lot of them point in Saban’s favor, but with these two teams, you never know what will happen until the clock hits zero. Here is one more: exactly half of the match ups have ended with a seven-point lead or less.