If you’re looking for long runs, sweet spirals traveling 40 yards before dropping into the arms of a wide receiver, or big numbers in the scoring column, the BCS Championship Game between LSU and Alabama might not be the game for you.
If you recall, the last time these two got together last November, the Tigers needed overtime to beat the Crimson Tide 9-6 in an overtime game that featured zero touchdowns.
Top ranked LSU (13-0) and No. 2 Alabama (12-1) are evenly matched, both with stellar defenses, making this a hard game to pick. But like a croupier (the roulette host) in Vegas once told me, “stay with whatever color is hot. If black has won five straight times, don’t bet against it until you land on red.” I don’t bet on sports, but I am a firm believer in patterns. I haven’t seen LSU lose, therefor I’m not going against them. No chance.
In college hoops, sometimes we see conference rivals meet up for a third time in either their conference tournament or the NCAA tournament after one team swept the other in regular season play. The pundits always say, “it’s really hard to win that third straight game.” Does that same principle apply to college football but in regards to the second game? I guess we’ll find out on Monday.
A more tangible reason for taking the Tigers Monday night is the fact that they beat both Oregon and West Virginia in the regular season. Both of those Top 25 teams have high-powered offenses which were on full display in the Rose and Orange bowls, respectively. In fact, LSU beat eight Top 25 teams this season, and only three of those wins came at home in Baton Rouge.
That leads me to yet another reason to pick LSU. The title game is being played at the Superdome in New Orleans, just a stone’s throw from LSU’s campus. While an equal number of tickets were sold to both schools (allegedly) and Tuscaloosa is only about 300 miles away, one could assume this will be more of a Tigers home game than a neutral site.
Okay, now to the nitty gritty; LSU ranks 12th in scoring offense with Alabama not far behind, ranked 17th in the nation. It was worth mentioning, but we all know that defense is the name of the game for these two teams. Alabama is ranked No. 1 in every defensive category, allowing only 8.83 points and 191.25 yards per game. That is ridiculous and hard for me to comprehend, especially playing against offensive linemen upward of 300 pounds in the SEC week in and week out.
But there’s a catch, of course. The LSU defense is no slouch either, surrendering just 10.54 points and 252 yards per game. The Tigers counter Alabama’s two big linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw with their top-notch corners, Morris Claiborne and Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu, better known as the Honey Badger. And I’ll tell ya something about Mathieu, he certainly isn’t intimidated by Alabama’s star running back and fellow Heisman finalist Trent Richardson, nor does he give a s%^! about the Crimson Tide’s cool-as-a-cucumber quarterback AJ McCarron, who in his first year as starter, has done a damn good job.
Like McCarron, Mathieu is a sophomore who has managed to make his presence felt in a big way. Only 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, Mathieu leads the LSU defense with 71 tackles, 11 forced fumbles and two interceptions. With two punts returned for touchdowns, I fully expect Alabama’s special teams to try its best to stop Mathieu, but as we’ve seen with Devin Hester in the NFL, sometimes teams fall victim to the Bears return man despite their attempts to not kick to him. In a game where little offense is anticipated, I think a special teams play could be the deciding factor.
The kicking game is what decided the first meeting between LSU and Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and it just might be the difference maker again in New Orleans. Alabama missed FOUR field goal attempts which clearly cost them the game back in November. No football team ever wants a game to come down to a field goal (just ask Andrew Luck and Stanford… yikes), but those guys are on the team for a reason. Sometimes that’s the way it is and hopefully, your guy has the leg (and the stones) to get it done.
As far as coaching is concerned, both Nick Saban and Les Miles are top-notch, championship-winning coaches, despite having two completely different styles and personalities. Both teams are in great hands when it comes to their respective head coaches.
While the LSU and Alabama players and coaches have said that they enjoyed the first meeting and thought it was great football because of the strong defense played by both teams, I would urge somebody, ANYBODY to score a touchdown in the rematch. I love defense as much as the next guy, but it wouldn’t hurt either team to find the endzone once or twice. The Superdome should be full of electricity, regardless of offensive production and with all of the marbles at stake, I can’t wait to watch LSU and Alabama go at it for the championship.
That said, can we please get a playoff in college football? Thanks!