TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Growing up, Jake Coker remembers watching some of the classic battles between Alabama and LSU.
As a native of Mobile, Ala., Coker was a fan of the Crimson Tide.
Some of the more recent games since Tide coach Nick Saban arrived stick out in the fifth-year senior's mind.
"I remember the play where Julio catches it and runs like 70 yards for a touchdown, and I remember the 'Game of the Century,'" Coker said. "I don't know who didn't see that game. And last year with Blake (Sims) and that final drive, that was pretty awesome."
Never miss a local story.
Like Sims did last year, Coker will get his opportunity to start in what has become one of the SEC's most high-profiled rivalries in recent years.
Coker and No. 7-ranked Alabama (7-1, 4-1 SEC) will host No. 4 LSU (7-0, 4-0) on Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for primetime at 8 p.m. on CBS.
"It's a real hard-fought game, always is," Coker said of the matchup. "And we've just got to bring our best game to the table, bring everything we've got."
A lot has been made of both team's rushing attacks, and rightfully so. Statistically, Leonard Fournette is the best running back in the country at 193.14 yards per game. Tide running back Derrick Henry is second in the SEC with 130.5 rushing yards per game.
But with both defenses expected to focus on stopping each other's ground games, the game could come down to quarterback play.
For the Tide, Coker has improved his play in some of the team's toughest games. In the Tide's grueling October stretch, Coker completed 74 percent of his passes and has a quarterback efficiency rating of 147.7. That, compared to a 55 percent completion rate and 123.9 efficiency rating.
His play peaked with the Tide down against Tennessee two weeks ago. With 5:49 left, Coker and the Tide took over down one. Coker connected on fade routes to ArDarius Stewart for 29 yards and Calvin Ridley for 15 yards. Henry finished the drive, but it was Coker's throws that helped set everything up.
"Jake hadn't played that much before this season but he's developed nicely and certainly put together a great drive at the end of the Tennessee game," Saban said. "I think all those things help his confidence, but also help the confidence of the players around him that he can make plays."
Tide center Ryan Kelly, one of Coker's closest friends on the team, echoed Saban's sentiments. Kelly said Coker's growing confidence is affecting teammates in a positive way.
"There's no testing his willingness to win or his character or anything like that," Kelly said. "I think he's showed that week in and week out ever since he became the starter. The more he starts on the field, the more confidence he's showed in the locker room and I think a lot of guys are picking up on that. He's doing a great job for us. When he's in the huddle or on the field you can definitely (feel) the (energy) that he brings."
The biggest game of Coker's career to date will take place Saturday. A win puts Alabama in good position to earn a top-four spot in the College Football Playoff, and keeps the Tide in the hunt for the SEC title. A loss eliminates Alabama from the national picture and the league race. The stakes are higher than ever, but the reserved Coker isn't changing his approach.
"I try to go about it the same way every week," Coker said. "I'm just going to do whatever coach tells me, obviously. It's a big game and we can't afford to make many mistakes. We'll figure it out. We're' just gonna do what coach says."
-- Contact Anniston Star Sports Writer Marq Burnett at email@example.com. On Twitter:@Marq_Burnett.