Why LSU, Brian Kelly can and can't beat Alabama football, Nick Saban in November

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama football won't have to see Ed Orgeron on the sideline for LSU this fall, but the new man running the team isn't a completely new face. 

Brian Kelly, who coached Notre Dame from 2010 to 2021, faced the Crimson Tide twice over that span on the national stage in the postseason. Saban came out on top in both instances. 

"I want to beat Nick Saban," Kelly said on a podcast in May. "Who doesn't want to beat Nick Saban? You know what I mean? I want to play him in the regular season. That's the standard, right? That's the standard. Now he's a conference opponent."

And now, Kelly will have his chance. 

Throughout the summer, The Tuscaloosa News is looking at each Alabama opponent that has a shot, even if it's slim, to defeat the Crimson Tide. Sorry, Vanderbilt. 

Next up are the Tigers, who will play host to Alabama on Nov. 5 at Tiger Stadium. Here's what LSU does and doesn't have going for it against Alabama. 

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Why LSU can win

Defensive front could capitalize on Alabama weakness

It's no secret that the Crimson Tide's offensive line could be the greatest obstacle between Alabama and another national championship. 

If the front line has issues throughout the year, this game could be one of the most problematic for the offense.

LSU has perhaps the best defensive rush Alabama will see during the regular season. In the USA TODAY Network's preseason ranking of defensive linemen, the Tigers have four of the top 10 at the position. BJ Ojulari and Ali Gaye are expected to lead the way off the edge with defensive tackles such as Maason Smith and Jaquelin Roy creating problems on the inside. 

Talented receivers

Kelly managing to hold onto Kayshon Boutte was perhaps one of his most important moves to start his tenure. 

Boutte led LSU in receiving yards (509) and touchdowns (nine) even though he missed the last seven games with an ankle injury he suffered against Kentucky. He's back and if he can return to form, he has a chance to be electric for LSU this season. 

He's not the only talent the Tigers are working with at the position. It has young receivers who could also give defenses problems. Included in that group is Malik Nabers, who was a member of the SEC All-freshman team. 

The development of Alabama's cornerbacks will be important for the Crimson Tide to be able to handle these receivers. 

Why LSU can't win

Unproven offensive line

Pass rushers on both teams could end up padding their stats plenty in this matchup. 

LSU's offensive line has potential, but it has more uncertainty right now. A freshman is expected to start at left tackle and small-school transfers are expected to fill a few other starting spots. 

Maybe this offensive line turns out to be pretty good, but even if it is solid this season, that might not be enough to slow Alabama's pass rush. Will Anderson Jr., Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell are going to be a problem for even the best of offensive lines. 

Ho w new cornerback group handle Bryce Young?

Kelly turned to the transfer portal to put together a new group of cornerbacks. 

They've got some pedigree and experience. Jarrick Bernard-Converse (Oklahoma State), Sevyn Banks (Ohio State), Greg Brooks Jr. (Arkansas) and Mekhi Garner (Louisiana) are all at the top of the position, and they could mesh well. 

 They aren't a proven group yet. If they don't mesh well , the reigning Heisman Trophy winner could take advantage. 

Not to mention, if any of these corners are hurt, Young could expose LSU's lack of cornerback depth behind them. 

Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men's basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at nkelly@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly.