Since 1943, #1 has played #2 46 times. #1 is 27-17-2. The frequency of these type match-ups has picked up because of the modern postseason matching the top two teams up. This is the first time that two teams will meet twice during the same year as #1 vs. #2.
Previewing this game is easier, or perhaps less exciting because of it. I wrote this preview before the last game. Not much has changed.
My opinion remains intact, and I am only encouraged by the result in Tuscaloosa, a 9-6 OT win for the Tigers.
I think it is safe to assume there will be more scoring this time, only because the offenses are more productive than what they lead us to believe in that game. Although, the time off (44 days for the Tide, 37 days for the Tigers) tends to hurt offense and help defense. See last year’s title game where the top two offenses in the country, Auburn and Oregon, struggled to score touchdowns in a 22-19 Tigers win. And those defenses were mediocre compared the two this year.
One thing to keep an eye on though is the tackling. Sometimes an extended time off results in missed tackles as much as it does the timing of the offense being off. One or both teams could get a score based on a missed tackle.
Trent Richardson played a heck of a game, accounting for more than half the Tide’s total yards. LSU’s two biggest mistakes were leaving him uncovered on two pass plays resulting in big gains. If it wasn’t before, it will be tonight: NEVER, EVER lose sight of #3.
Despite Richardson’s success, the Tide only managed a meager 96 yards rushing as a team. And more importantly, they only ran THREE plays in the LSU redzone. They never penetrated the Tigers’ 17-yard line. A lot was made over the missed field goals, rightfully so. But it wasn’t as if Alabama was squandering great scoring chance one after the next. They couldn’t get close enough to be a real threat. The kicks they missed were from 44, 49, 50, and 52. Not exactly chip shots in the college game.
I love both defenses. Bama’s is better. The Tiger’s D does more bending. They give up more yards. I just don’t think Alabama’s skill players scare LSU. WR Marquise Maze is average. WR Darius Hanks and Kenny Bell are fast, but not dynamic. The TE’s are decent, but not threatening.
If LSU is smart and mistake-free, Trent Richardson is the only player that can beat them.
On the other hand, LSU boasts four runners that can beat you. None as good as Richardson, but all solid. And the WR group is much better. Sheppard, Randle, and Beckham can all beat their opponent before the catch and after it. It’s not an advantage over the Tide secondary, but it’s not a disadvantage either.
The biggest difference in the game now will be QB Jordan Jefferson starting instead of QB Jarrett Lee for the Tigers. I don’t think Jefferson is any good, but he is better than Lee. And he is probably better than his counterpart Tide QB AJ McCarron. I am not sure any of these guys can win the game for their team, only lose it. How bout that for a title game?
Special teams? Do I even need to go there? With the Honey Badger returning punts, Brad Wing’s electric leg booting the ball, and having a kicker whose nickname isn’t shanks, the edge belongs to LSU.
The coaching match-up is even. Period. Saban has the better reputation, but Miles is every bit his equal. Miles leads the head-2-head 3-2. The average score in the five games: 22-22. With a win, Miles can better Saban in another area too. The bank account. If Miles wins the national title he gets a pay raise to $1000 more than the current highest paid coach: Nick Saban.
I am curious how both men approach the game. When Saban last won the title, he called for a fake punt that backfired on the Tide’s first possession against Texas. Fortunately they hurt Colt McCoy and built a comfortable lead, but allowed the Longhorns to come back when they got conservative, before finally pulling away.
It’s of note that in Miles three wins over Saban, they trailed at the start of the 4th quarter in all of them. The Mad-Hatter didn’t even have to go into his bag of tricks in the win this season, which only leaves me more curious what he could have up his sleeve tonight. Something tells me a coaching decision will be one of the headlines tomorrow.
The conversation will be a lot more fun tomorrow if Alabama wins. The sick, twisted side of me is definitely pulling for Alabama because it puts more darts in the BCS balloon. Of course, I wish we didn’t have a rematch so what I want doesn’t matter much.
I said 17-10 the first time around. I think the Tide will take advantage of a LSU mistake this time, but I think LSU will pull a rabbit out of their hat too.
Tigers 17, Tide 14