The 1st Nat’l Title gm rematch S/’96 and the 1st time in the BCS era 2 tms from the same conf will meet for the title. LSU won the earlier meeting 9-6 in OT in Tuscaloosa thanks to 4 missed Bama FG’s (7 trips inside LSU35) and were also outgained 295-239. The Tigers are 3-2 vs Bama since former LSU HC Saban took over and Miles is 5-2 vs the Tide (only LSU HC ever to beat Bama 5x’s). There are 6 common opp’s with Bama going 6-0 outscoring foes 39-10 (+265 ypg) while LSU was 6-0 outscoring foes 39-9 (+200 ypg). Bama is gunning for its 2nd BCS Title in 3 yrs and makes just its 2nd appearance in NO (lost to Utah ‘08) since winning the ‘92 Nat’l Title here. Saban is 6-6 overall in bowls including 3-1 at Bama. LSU has won their L/2 Nat’l Titles (‘03, ‘07) in the Superdome and this is their 5th NO postssn appearance S/’01 (4-0). Overall Miles is 6-3 in bowls but is 5-1 at LSU. Bama was 6-1 vs bowl tms outscoring them on avg 30-9 and outgaining them 375-200 while LSU was 9-0 vs bowl tms TY outscoring them 36-13 despite only outgaining those foes 366-288. Bama has 9 Sr st’rs among 19 upperclassmen while LSU has 8 Sr st’rs among 13 upperclassmen.
The Tide started the yr with a QB controversy between Sims/McCarron. After a 5 TO perf by the off vs Kent St, soph McCarron settled in as the st’r and at one pt had a streak of 152 passes w/out an int (3rd longest in schl hist). RB Richardson who many felt was more talented than 2009 Heisman winner Ingram had arguably a better ssn than Ingram’s Heisman campaign incl nine 100 yd gms despite having to face 5 D’s that ranked in the top 20! Doak Walker winner Richardson had a knack for coming up with his best perf in big gms incl 169 of Bama’s 295 ttl yds vs LSU. If there is one weakness on the Bama off it would be the WR’s as they have struggled to find a deep-threat replacement for #1DC Jones. Maze has great spd and versatility but lacks height and they often use two TE sets with Smelley/Williams. The OL avg 6’4” 313 with 1 Sr st’r and are led by Outland winner LT Jones who can play every pos which helped the Tide avg a Saban-era high 220 rush ypg (5.6) while all’g just 15 sks (4.6%). Overall they have my #9 off. The D is clearly #1 as they are the first tm in 25 yrs to lead the NCAA in the 4 major categories (rush, pass, ttl and scoring D). The Tide’s 3 man DL avg 6’2” 305 with 1 Sr st’r. They have 2 AA at LB in Hightower who finally ret’d to his ‘08 form (knee inj early ‘09) and Upshaw who led the tm in sks and tfl for a 2nd yr in a row. The secondary features at least 5 future early round NFL draft picks and are led by 3x AA S Barron and rank #7 in my pass D all’g just 116 ypg (48%) with a 6-12 ratio. The ST’s rank #65 as both K’s have struggled hitting only 2-11 from 40+ incl the 4 misses vs LSU but PR/KR Maze is #10 FBS PR and would lead the SEC in KR if he had enough att to qualify.
The Tigers were able to overcome several off-field issues incl the susp of many of their leaders on off/def throughout the yr to achieve their first 13-0 ssn in schl hist while winning their 11th SEC Title. QB Lee (Jefferson susp’d 1st 4) was solid in the 1st 8 gms avg 156 ypg (63%) with a 13-1 ratio. After he threw 2 int’s vs Bama, Lee was pulled for Jefferson who has played every meaningful snap since. The talented group of RB’s combine spd (Ford/Blue) and power (Ware/Hilliard). Each RB has 7 or more TD’s and will be used in a variety of formations. The WR’s are led by deep threat Randle while true frosh Beckham has been the surprise. The OL avg 6’5” 315 with 2 Sr st’rs led by OG’s Blackwell and Hebert and paved the way for a Miles-era high 215 rush ypg (5.0) while all’g 14 sks (5.3%). Overall the Tigers have my #13 off. The #2 D’s ability to pressure the QB (37 sks) is a big reason why LSU is #1 in the country in TO margin (+22). The DL features the best group of young DL in the country avg 6’5” 273 with 1 Sr st’r and incl AA DE Montgomery (#5 SEC sks). LB Baker leads a corps that often gets overlooked as the def stars are in the secondary. Bednarik winner CB Mathieu is the nation’s biggest playmaker on D (6 FF, 5 FR, 2 TD’s) while fellow CB and Thorpe winner Claiborne may be the 1st DB taken in the upcoming draft and S Reid made the big int at the GL vs Bama. The Tigers rank #3 in my pass D all’g 167 ypg (51%) with a 7-18 ratio. ST’s are #2 thanks to efficient K Alleman (3-3 vs Bama), All-SEC P Wing’s directional punting is a big reason why the Tigers are all’g 13 inches per PR (#1) and Mathieu who has had 2 momentum changing PR TD’s in the L/2 gms.
We’re in for a treat and the BCS system got it right, matching up the top 2 teams. I think the difference in this game will be the adjustments Saban will make from the first game and I think Bama will capatilize on their trips inside LSU territory unlike the first game. I think Richardson is the best player on the field will have a very big game. I picked Alabama to win the national title in my magazine 8 months ago and will stick with my pick here. Roll Tide!