How Alabama football is affected by postponement and possible cancellation of the LSU game

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports
LSU coach Ed Orgeron, left, and Alabama coach Nick Saban shake hands prior to their teams' game in 2017.

Alabama's game against LSU has been postponed, with no word on if there's a way to reschedule. What does it mean?

If this happened, for instance, to one of Alabama’s first three games, there would have been little to no fallout. But since COVID-19 first impacts Alabama’s football schedule in mid-November, it could reverberate through the rest of UA’s season.

Double bye week

For the first time since 1978, Alabama will go two consecutive regular-season weeks without a game. That season, it played LSU on Nov. 11 at Legion Field and did not play again until Dec. 2 in the Iron Bowl, also at Legion Field. UA won both games, and a month later beat Penn State in the Sugar Bowl to win the national championship.

From a health perspective, it comes at a good time for the Crimson Tide. Defensive lineman LaBryan Ray has missed the last three games with an elbow injury, which UA coach Nick Saban said would be reevaluated after the open week. The hope was that Ray would be able to play against LSU, but now he has another week to heal before the game against Kentucky.

More:Alabama-LSU football game postponed due to COVID-19

Defensive back Malachi Moore and running back Brian Robinson Jr. also suffered minor injuries in the Mississippi State game and now get an extra week to nurse those. The injury to Robinson is particularly crucial, given the injuries Trey Sanders suffered in a car accident are keeping him out indefinitely. If both he and Robinson were to miss any future games, UA would look to two freshmen (Roydell Williams and Jase McClellan) with a combined two career carries as the rotation behind Najee Harris.

Nine-game season?

The struggles of rescheduling Alabama’s game against LSU are clear: UA’s lone open date between now and the SEC Championship Game, Dec. 12, is already booked on LSU’s schedule with a game against Florida. It could require a significant schedule change that would likely include playing games on Dec. 19, the same day as the SEC Championship Game, to grant Alabama its 10th regular-season game.

If UA does finish its regular season after nine games, it would be the first time since 1944 that UA played so few regular-season games.

Calling Baton Rouge

If the game with LSU is unable to be replaced, it would be the first year without a football game between Alabama and LSU since 1963. The 57 meetings since then have given college football some of its most anticipated and epic matchups: 17 matchups of top-15 teams, a national championship game and a tie (14-14 in 1985).

Will the game be played? SEC considering shuffling LSU and Alabama opponents around to find a new spot for LSU-Bama

Record chase

If UA is to play one fewer games than it anticipated in September, it could prove costly for players chasing individual records, chief among them Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith.

Harris needs 505 rushing yards to tie Derrick Henry’s school record for career rushing yards. If UA is able to both play the LSU game and play all the way through the College Football Playoff Championship Game, Harris would need to average 72.14 yards per game to match it; without the LSU game, that number jumps up to 84.16 yards per game, and if UA is unable to play LSU or get beyond the semifinals, Harris needs 101 yards per game to reach Henry.

Harris also needs eight rushing touchdowns to tie the school career record.

Smith is in a similar situation to Harris, needing 595 receiving yards to tie Amari Cooper’s school record for career receiving yards.

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson