BCS National Championship Preview- LSU v.s Alabama

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SEC fans will call it the rematch of the century. Others may prefer the title “The Corruption Bowl 2012”. The BCS’s historic decision to pit the two SEC foes against each other for the second time this season has been a major talking point for weeks. The matchup has increased pressure on the NCAA to adopt a college football playoff system. Whether you agree with the match-up or not, there is no doubt this game will live up to the hype.

The 2011 LSU Tigers may be the best team to ever play in the BCS era. The Bayou Bengals have posted 8 wins over AP top 25 opponents. Since the AP poll began in 1936, no national champion has that many wins against AP Top 25 opponents. Of the eight Top 25 teams they’ve defeated, 7 were double-digit wins. The most double-digit wins by a team to win the national championship in the AP Poll era is six, by Florida in 2008. LSU will be looking to beat that record. Of the eight Top 25 opponents taken down by the tigers, three were ranked in the Top 5.

LSU’s has an outstanding defensive secondary. The Tigers are ranked third in the nation in pass efficiency defense this season (93.1) and that has a lot to do with their play on the perimeter. Opponents have had trouble throwing the ball towards the sidelines, usually patrolled by Heisman candidate Tyrann Mathieu. “The Honey Badger” has only 2 picks, but has forced six fumbles. He’s returned two of those for touchdowns.

Standing in the Tigers way is their division rival, The Alabama Crimson Tide. Nick Saban will be looking to become the first head coach to win three BCS titles. Alabama leads the nation in scoring, total, rushing and passing defense. The NCAA has been tracking those four major defensive categories since 1937, and only one team has ever finished a season ranked first in all four. That team was Oklahoma in 1986.

Alabama’s yards per game allowed (191.3) would be the lowest since that ‘86 Oklahoma team.

The X-factor in this game will be the play of LSU’s Jordan Jefferson. Coming off an indefinite suspension due to his involvement in a bar fight, the duel-threat quarterback saw key minutes in the first game against Alabama. In overtime, he guided the Tigers down the field, most notably on a 34-yard completion when Alabama botched its deep coverage and left only one guy to cover two receivers.

That gave LSU first-and-goal at the Alabama 8, its first serious scoring chance in a tight defensive game.

Jefferson did just enough, completing 6 of 10 passes for 67 yards and running 11 times for 43 yards. His ability to run the option successfully was a contributing factor to the 9-6 victory that the stat sheet didn’t show.

Nick Saban’s past defenses have had trouble defending the option and mobile quarterbacks. In 2009, the Utah Utes upset the tide 31- 17 by throwing different looks at their defense. The Utes ran the wildcat with fullback Matt Asiata, giving Saban’s defense fits. If Jordan Jefferson can run the option successfully, look for LSU to do the same.

My prediction- In a higher scoring game than the last, LSU upends their division rival for the second time. 23-17 Tigers

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