This brings us to the final game of the college football season, and I cannot think of a better way to end it than with the two SEC teams. On January 9, 2012 the BCS National Championship game will give you the rematch between the #1 LSU Tigers vs. #2 Alabama Crimson Tide. The game will take place in a fitting setting, in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, LA. It is like the stars aligned to give us a perfect game, a perfect venue, and a perfect trophy. At the end of the day one of these coaches will be holding the Sears Trophy, and I can guarantee one thing it will be an SEC coach.
The first game was a defensive battle that played to a 9-6 LSU win in overtime. Both teams played fantastic defense in the game, but it was also a game where both coaches knew that a close loss would give them a chance to play for the National Championship. Go figure the strategy worked out for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide who got into this game with some controversy. I would not expect to see the same 9-6 game that you saw in the first meeting. It will be a defensive game, but points will be put on the scoreboard and chances will be taken.
Now let’s dive into the second meeting.
LSU comes into this game off of a SEC Championship win over the Georgia Bulldogs 42-10 in the Georgia Dome. They are led by the Walter Camp and AP Coach of the Year Les Miles at the helm, and a team that is filled with 2011 college football award winners and All Americans. Miles is looking to win his second BCS National Title and the fourth for the LSU Tigers. Miles took over for the Tigers after Coach Saban left for the NFL, and filled those shoes with lots of wins. He has a career coaching record of 75-17 with the Tigers, and is looking for number 76 against Nick Saban’s Alabama team.
LSU’s defense is the group that will win them this game. A group that finished second in the FBS only behind the Crimson Tide allowing only 14 touchdowns on the year and 252 yards per game. It starts with Defensive Coordinator John Chavis who received the Broyles award for the first time as the nation’s top assistant coach. His defensive line is one that NFL owners and general managers are foaming at the mouth to have. It features a twelve deep rotation led by the book ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo. Montgomery had 9 sacks on the year, and Mingo tallied with 8 sacks on the year.
The front seven of the Tigers led to an amazing year for the secondary. It featured the Honey Badger Tryann Mathieu who was a Heisman Trophy finalist, and a break out player for the Tigers defense. Mathieu’s status was rock star like and led to maybe the best player on the defense and in the secondary Morris Claiborne to go unnoticed all year. Claiborne finished the season as an All-American recipient and Jim Thorpe Award winner for best defensive back in the country. It was a group that help led the Tigers to lead the turnover margin in the FBS with 1.69 per game.
Alabama comes into this game 11-1 and we all know who that one loss was to, LSU. They are coached by the former Tiger Nick Saban who is in his fifth year at Alabama has a record of 54-12. Saban has won two National Championships in his coaching career, and his in search for his third and second since he has been at Alabama. Saban brings in a team that is solid on offense, and a defense that might be the best he has ever had.
Alabama’s defense is the number one ranked team in total defense in the FBS. This group only allowed 191 yards per game and twelve touchdowns on the year. It is a defense led by four All-Americans, two that play in the secondary and two that play at linebacker. Their defense starts with the two All-American linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont’a Hightower. Upshaw had 8 ½ sacks on the year and 17 tackles for a loss. Hightower is also the team’s leader in tackles with 81 tackles on the season. Both players should be first day if not first round draft picks when the time comes. If the Tigers get passed the two linebackers they will have to face two more All-Americans in the secondary senior Mark Barron and junior Dre Kirkpatrick. This tide defense could play with any NFL offense currently.
The game will come down to the offenses and special teams. So when making our pick for the game we took a look to see what team is better on the offensive side of the ball, and is better on special teams. We feel that LSU has more playmakers on special teams and offense than the Tide, but it is also tough to beat someone twice in one year. For now we are taking the Tigers 21-20 in a tight battle that will come down to a special teams play.