Elite SEC matchups: Leonard Fournette vs. Reuben Foster

Linebacker Reuben Foster (10) and the Alabama defense will be trying to bottle up Tigers running back Leonard Fournette again this season when the teams meet Nov. 5 at LSU. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

NFL scouts don’t come to college football games to see who wins or loses. They want to see the best players on the field, and it’s a bonus when those elite players are matched up against each other in one-on-one situations.

Think like a scout for a minute. Which individual matchups do you most want to see in the SEC this fall? This week, we’re breaking down our top four.

The matchup: RB Leonard Fournette vs. LB Reuben Foster

The skinny: When it comes to SEC running backs, there’s Fournette and then there’s everybody else. So obviously our first RB vs. LB matchup had to include the conference’s best player. Though Fournette will run against top linebackers like Jarrad Davis and Brooks Ellis, there is one game and one matchup in particular that stands out.

The game is Nov. 5 against Alabama. The matchup is against Foster, the Crimson Tide's next great linebacker.

In last season's game, Alabama held Fournette to a season-low 31 yards. He averaged 1.63 yards per carry and was stopped in the backfield time and time again. The defense wasn’t led by one player, though. It was a collective effort -- no player had more than six tackles, and nine different players recorded at least a half tackle for loss.

Foster, who recorded double-digit tackles the game before and the game after, wasn't one of those nine players with a tackle for loss. In fact, he finished with just one total tackle against LSU.

It’s obvious both players will have something to prove in this year’s contest. Fournette will be out for revenge against the one team that shut him down a year ago, and Foster will have to play better now that he’s the man on a defense that no longer has A'Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed and Reggie Ragland.

In terms of size, there aren’t many linebackers in the SEC who will match up better against the big and bruising Fournette than Foster, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 240 pounds. If you remember, it was Foster who blew up Fournette on the final play of regulation in the 2014 game. It’s still probably the biggest shot Fournette has taken in his two years at LSU, and Foster is much bigger and stronger now than he was back then.

Foster is also just a better player now. He’s no longer leading with his head on every tackle. Sure, he delivered some major hits like the one against Fournette, but he couldn’t stay healthy playing that way. He has adapted, and many believe he’s primed for an All-SEC caliber season.

Prediction: Will Fournette have his best game against Alabama? No. But it’s hard to imagine that he won’t play better than he did a year ago. And as good as Foster might be this coming season, it takes an entire defense to stop the Heisman Trophy contender. Alabama just isn’t the same defense without Robinson, Reed and Ragland up front.

Foster might get at least one good lick on Fournette, but it will be Fournette who goes over 100 yards and has the better game.