The weekly picks column is up at Football Outsiders, featuring Alabama-LSU as a dividing line in the college football culture wars. Plus advanced stats, analysis and picks for the weekend's top games
For the second year in a row, the winner-take-all slug fest between Alabama and LSU is the most important game of the regular season in terms of the polls and the pecking order for the BCS Championship Game. But its status on that front also puts the rivalry front and center in what might be called college football's ongoing culture wars, pitting the SEC against the rest of the country on one hand, and the old school against the new on the other. For a sizable segment of the country, Alabama-LSU is an argument: This is how the game is supposed to be played.
In terms of hardware, it's hard to argue: The Tigers and Crimson Tide have accounted for three of the SEC's six consecutive BCS titles since 2006, and embody better than any other outfits the league's emphasis on deep, dominant defensive lines above all else. In terms of talent, it's impossible to argue: Between them, LSU and Alabama lost 13 players in the 2012 Draft, nine of them on defense, eight of them going in the first two rounds, and the departures have made almost no discernible difference. They may very well exceed those numbers in 2013. They're mirror images, dominant programs forged from the same old-school, blue-chip blueprint, and when they come together, the result is nearly unwatchable.