Talk of LSU-Alabama rematch for BCS title swirls even before game Saturday
By Herb Gould firstname.lastname@example.org November 3, 2011 8:16PM
No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama, 7 p.m. Saturday, Ch. 2, 1000-AM.
Records: LSU 8-0, 5-0 SEC; Alabama 8-0, 5-0 SEC.
The line: Alabama by 5. Gould’s pick: Alabama 28-20.
Updated: December 6, 2011 8:16AM
Here’s the definition of a big game: No. 1 LSU’s trip Saturday to No. 2 Alabama is so huge that people already are talking about a rematch for the national championship.
I can see a scenario in which that might make sense. If No. 3
Oklahoma State and No. 4 Stanford lose and this is a tight game, especially if the home team (Alabama) prevails, it might make sense aesthetically and in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
This is reminiscent of the last time the No. 1 and No. 2 teams met during the regular season. On Nov. 18, 2006, the day after Bo Schembechler died, No. 2 Michigan gave No. 1 Ohio State a terrific game before losing 42-39 in Columbus.
That created a clamor for a rematch, but Dewey and the BCS Decimel Points determined that Florida was No. 2. So what happened? The Gators smacked the Buckeyes 41-14 in the championship game, and USC throttled the Wolverines 32-18 in the Rose Bowl.
Unlikely as it seems, that might happen again, too.
Not to throw cold water on this LSU-Alabama staredown — the buildup for this Game of the Century is fun and deserved for two teams that stand out in the Southeastern Conference, the best college football conference in the country — but there is a bit of a knowledge gap here.
The rest of the SEC isn’t up to its usual standards. Florida isn’t Florida. Georgia isn’t Georgia. Auburn’s best players now are drawing NFL paychecks (insert punch line here). Arkansas’ too skittery. South Carolina’s too injured. Tennessee’s not even in the discussion.
All I’m saying is, let the Tigers and Crimson Tide play this game and let some other contenders play their games before we start pondering The Rematch.
In their own ways, coaches Nick Saban of Alabama and Les Miles of LSU have the blinders on.
‘‘Everybody out there probably thinks there is some special formula or some special magic that, when you play in games like this, you go do different things to get ready for the game,’’ said Saban, whose job description includes tempering Alabama mania. ‘‘The most important thing is that you prepare for the game and that your players are focused on playing their best football.’’
While Saban is a reigning genius, Miles remains stereotyped as a malaprop master who presides precariously over a cauldron of football talent.
‘‘This team has enjoyed the glare of the lights of the big stage and the opportunity to play for a very significant victory,’’ Miles said. ‘‘Once I have prepared the team, I want them to play with freedom — read their keys and do the things they are supposed to do.’’
Alabama not only has the genius, it also has some gaudy statistics. The Tide has won its last nine games by 16 or more points and hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in those games.
Alabama is allowing its opponents a paltry 44.9 rushing yards a game on just 1.67 yards a carry, tops in the nation. LSU is third, allowing 76.6 rushing yards on 2.5 yards a carry. The Tide also is No. 1 in points allowed (6.9 a game); the Tigers are third (11.5).
Alabama features the biggest star in Heisman Trophy candidate Trent Richardson, who’s averaging 123.6 rushing yards and has scored 17 touchdowns.
LSU, though, might have the more impressive body of work to this point. The Tigers have have beaten Oregon in Cowboys Stadium, have won good road tests at Mississippi State and West Virginia and routed Auburn. LSU also has the edge statistically on special teams.
It’ll come down to which team can keep its poise and makes the fewest mistakes, which team can generate more offense and which team can take advantage of the breaks of the game.
And if this No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup turns out to be the kind of thriller everyone is anticipating, maybe they’ll do it again Jan. 9 in New Orleans.
And maybe Don King will promote it.