The BCS National Championship Game has a history of producing some controversial matchups and this one is no different. This year’s 1-vs-2 clash features two teams from the same division of the same conference who already played each other. One team won the league’s automatic BCS berth, while the other didn’t even play in the league championship game for the right to earn the BCS bid. While there are other conference champions in other bowls, a conference runner-up is considered deserving of the right to play for the national title.
No matter what you may think of the system, there is some or little argument that LSU and Alabama have proved themselves to be two of the best, if not the best, teams in the nation at the end of a wild 2011 season. And these two longtime rivals get a rare rematch for a national title. While the first meeting was in Tuscaloosa, this one will be in New Orleans the Tigers’ adopted home.
This should make for a very interesting end to an entertaining bowl season, and a college-football campaign overall.
LSU has won the last seven meetings between these two storied programs, including the 9-6 win in Tuscaloosa and a 24-21 win in Baton Rouge a year ago.
The latest BCS Championship odds show Alabama favored by 1 points, while the over/under is posted at 41 points.
The Crimson Tide had an incredible season. They even bounced back well after their loss to LSU, winning their last three regular season games by a combined score of 111-42. This squad is headlined by a defense that allowed less than 10 points in seven of their twelve games. Alabama enters the title game with a perfect 5-0 road record.
The Tide is ranked tops in the nation in scoring defense (9 points per game) and allows 191 yards per game (116 passing, 75 rushing) while recording 26 sacks and forced 18 turnovers four of which were returned for touchdowns (DeMarcus Milliner, DeQuan Menzie and Courtney Upshaw, interceptions).
Dont’a Hightower leads this unit with 81 tackles, while Upshaw leads the squad with 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Milliner has three interceptions and Dre Kirkpatrick has two forced fumbles.
Alabama ranks 16th in the nation in scoring offense (36 ppg) while compiling 433 yards per game (220 rushing, 213 passing).
Trent Richardson anchors the running game with 1,583 yards and 20 TDs on 6.0 yards per carry, while Eddy Lacy adds 631 yards and seven TDs on 7.5 ypc. A.J. McCarron has completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,400 yards and 16 touchdowns with five interceptions, while the offensive line allowed 15 sacks. Marquis Maze is the top pass-catcher with 56 receptions (29 more than anyone else) for 627 yards and a TD.
The Tigers are the only unbeaten team in the nation and have held the No. 1 ranking for most of the season (started No. 4). Since that win at Alabama, LSU seemed to get better, rolling up four straight wins since by a combined 177-39, including 83-27 over top-10 Arkansas and Georgia en route to the SEC title. LSU was 7-0 away from home and 6-0 in its home state of Louisiana, the site of this game.
LSU is second nationally in scoring defense (10 ppg), ranking only behind Alabama, and allows 252 yards per game (167 passing, 85 rushing) while compiling 37 sacks and forcing 30 turnovers six of which were returned for TDs (Morris Claiborne and Ron Brooks, three interceptions; Tyrann Mathieu and Kevin Minter, three fumbles).
Mathieu paces the defense with 70 tackles, six forced fumbles and five recoveries, while Sam Montgomery has recorded nine sacks and Barkevious Mingo added eight. Claiborne is one of the top pickoff artists in the nation with six interceptions.
The LSU offense ranks 12th in the nation in scoring (38 ppg) while recording 375 yards of offense per game (215 rushing, 160 passing).
Michael Ford and Spencer Ware lead the rushing attack with a combined 1,455 yards and 15 TDs on 4.7 yards per carry. Jordan Jefferson has completed 60 percent of his passes for 684 yards and six TDs with just one interception, while the offensive line has allowed 14 sacks. Reuben Randle is the top receiving target with 50 catches for 904 yards and eight TDs.