A look at LSU versus Alabama, Part Deux
By John Broussard
An admittedly biased sports fan whose area of expertise is investments & economics
Bowl Game Analysis – The big Bowl games are usually decided by turnovers and special teams because the long layoff usually has a negative effect on the crispness of execution on both sides of the ball. We have seen these two teams play each other and already know that they are very closely matched on offense and defense. Both teams played after their early November matchup and so both teams have evolved slightly since that game, certainly Jordan Jefferson of LSU has benefitted from the extra starts and LSUs offensive line is healthy. Still, they both are who they are. Run oriented offenses, teams relying on defensive dominated strategy. LSU gave up a combined 55 points in its last six games. Bama gave up a combined 57 points in its last five games. No one's scoring 70 points in this bowl game. Of note, LSU's layoff has been less than Bama's and the game is being played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LOUISIANA.
The BCS - What few of us like to see is a rematch to decide a national championship. It is simple logic in the best of the American spirit: You had your shot; you lost; now it's someone else's turn. So this year again underscored the flaws in a BCS system that seems to routinely exclude worthy challengers. My guess is that if Oklahoma State's name was Texas, or Ohio State, or USC, or Notre Dame and they had beat Oklahoma 42 to 10 in the last game of the year, then Alabama would be playing in some other bowl game. Life's unfair, the BCS system sucks, get used to it. Hate the system, don't hate the players. Advantage – playoff system
Hardware – Les Miles is the Home Depot Coach of the Year (yes, The Mad Hatter himself); The Chief, LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, is the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year; LSU's Morris Claiborne is the Jim Thorpe Award winner for the best defensive back; LSU's Tyrann Mathieu is the Chuck Bednarik Award winner for the best defensive player; Alabama's Barrett Jones is the Outland Trophy winner symbolic of the best offensive lineman; and Bama's Trent Richardson is the Doak Walker Award winner as the best running back. LSU is the SEC Western Division Champion and LSU is the SEC Champion. Alabama is the state champion of Alabama. Advantage – LSU
Strength of Schedule – LSU has played what the NCAA has ranked as this year's toughest schedule. They have been ranked #1 since September, playing most of their games with that target on their backs. LSU has played and beaten a record 8 ranked teams this year. LSU has played and beaten 3 teams ranked in the Top 3 of the national polls. At the time that LSU has played them, LSU has beaten #3 Oregon, #25 Mississippi St., #16 West Virginia, #17 Florida, #19 Auburn, #2 Alabama, #3 Arkansas and #12 Georgia for the SEC Championship. Alabama has played 4 ranked teams this year and lost to one of them, LSU. LSU takes over games in the second half after wearing out teams. It is just too hard to withstand the onslaught of running backs and defensive linemen that LSU grinds teams down with. If LSU starts fast and plays their 'A' game, they win. Advantage – LSU
Coaches - LSU has a really good coach who is cool and says all kinds of whacked out stuff no one can understand. Les Miles' steady hand has guided his team through adversity and controversy to an undefeated season. He's a family oriented man that treats his players like an extension of that family. Alabama has a really good coach who is slick in front of the cameras and kind of a prick when the lights go off. The maniac on the sideline is who he is. Nick Saban, the media darling, actually has a LOSING record in Bowl games, 6 losses versus 5 wins. You never see THAT written up by the sports media. To be fair, he is 3 wins versus 1 loss at Alabama. Meanwhile Les Miles has a WINNING record in Bowl games, 6 wins versus 3 losses, 5 and 1 at LSU. Miles has proven that if you give him and his staff some time they can beat anybody in the country. Advantage - LSU
Special teams – LSU has two great kickers. Brad Wing can punt with either leg, can kick a spiral or an end over end punt on demand, is deadly at dropping the ball inside an opponent's 20 yard line and as a freshman was selected to the First Team Associated Press All American squad. LSU has allowed just 6 return yards on punts this year. TOTAL. SIX YARDS! Drew Alleman is money anywhere inside 50 yards. Bama's kickers were a combined 2-of-6 in field goal attempts against LSU in the first matchup. For the season, Jeremy Shelley and Cade Foster are a combined 18-of-29 and just 2-of-11 from 40 yards or longer. Alabama has no one like the Honey Badger returning punts. His punt returns against Georgia in the SEC Championship were epic. Advantage – LSU by a country mile.
Offensive line - Alabama has All American and future NFLer Barrett Jones at one tackle and probable future NFLer D.J. Fluker at the other (Fluker is no fluke), and that dude whose last name starts with a "V" at center. LSU has All American Will Blackwell. What most people forget is that starting center P.J. Lonergan was out for the Alabama game and Josh Williford was limited by injury. LSU had to rely on T-Bob Hebert, at center. T-Bob is like the Swiss Army knife of offensive linemen. I think the dude has played every position on the O-line. And in the first game he was clearly overmatched. But even with the offensive line deficiencies LSU ran the ball for 150 yards against Bama in the first game. It was LSU's lowest rushing total of the season, it was the second-most rushing yards allowed by Alabama and 56 more than any other SEC team managed against the Tide. LSU has run the ball on everyone they have played this year. All wins for LSU. LSU and Alabama have more road graders on their respective offensive lines than a Caterpillar dealership. Still, LSU ran the ball on Alabama the first time, has run the ball on much better teams than Alabama has played this year and the O-line is healthy and at full strength. Advantage – LSU ever so slightly
Quarterback - LSU has Jordan Jefferson, with Jarrett Lee as a proven backup. Alabama has A.J. McCarron. In the first meeting this season between Alabama and LSU, McCarron was 16-of-28 for 199 yards and one interception. Big Whoop. Neither team is going to make a living throwing the ball against these defensive backs. Meanwhile Jordan Jefferson is a proven winner and runner. McCarron's judgment has to be in question with reportedly having a tattoo of his nickname "Bama Boy" tattooed across his chest. A "Bama Boy" tattoo??? Why not grow a mullet to go along with it. Clearly McCarron has more upside potential than Jefferson or Lee. But he is playing this game this year against this LSU defense. Advantage - LSU
Running back - Alabama has Heisman finalist Trent Richardson. He's made so many All American lists it's hard to take up the space listing them all. His highlight reel run against Ole Miss is a keeper (Poor Ole Miss). The dude can put on a clinic on the effective use of the stiff arm. I REALLY like Richardson. LSU is deeper than the Mariana trench at running back with Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, Alfred Blue, and Kenny Hilliard. Hilliard, the fourth string freshman running back, gained 100 yards against the #3 team in the nation. Advantage - LSU by committee
Wide receiver - Alabama has the alliterative Marquis Maze and LSU has the equally alliterative Reuben Randle. Both receivers run really rad routes. LSU has Russell Shepherd and Odell Beckham Jr in their three receiver set. Deangelo Peterson, Chase Clement, Kadron Boone, James Wright, Jarvis Landry and Mitch Joseph have all made significant catches for LSU. All the LSU receivers block downfield for the running game. I don't know who else Alabama has and am too lazy to look it up. Advantage - LSU
Defensive line - LSU is deep, really deep, ridiculously deep on the D-Line. How fast is Barkevious Mingo? He ran down Oregon's LaMichael James from behind! In high school he ran on the winning 5A state champion track relay team. He runs down in coverage on the kickoff team. The LSU D-Line is deep, talented and fast, NFL fast. Mingo, Adams, Logan, Montgomery, Brockers, Edwards, "Freak" Johnson, Downs, Aghayere, Rasco, Ferguson, they will be fresh as a daisy in the fourth quarter when Bama's O-Line will be gassed. Advantage - LSU
Linebacker – Alabama has three linebackers who will probably play in the NFL, Dont'a Hightower, Nico Johnson and Courtney Upshaw. These dudes are huge! Like 260 pounds. They are tough to run over or through. It is hard to say if any of the LSU linebackers will play on Sundays and two of them are converted safeties. LSU has played a lot of underclassmen developing needed depth and size. Kevin Minter is one of those who has developed to the point that he will probably start the game for LSU. 'Just win baby' is the name of the game at this position for LSU. The LSU dudes are fast. Hard to get outside on them and they can run all day long. It's important to remember that in the first meeting's overtime period if Ford's left foot is 1 inch to the right he scores running around those big ole Bama linebackers. Let's call this one a slight advantage for Alabama.
Defensive backs - Both teams have NFL picks everywhere in their starting secondary. Bama has Barron and Kirkpatrick, LSU has Claiborne and Mathieu. The difference is LSU has NFL bound nickel and dime backs. Every sportscaster in America calls Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu the "Honey Badger" and Bama has no nicknames (unless we are going to count "Bama Boy"). "Mo" Claiborne is a sure top ten pick in the spring NFL draft. Mathieu and Claiborne were the first teammates chosen to the first team AP All American team at both cornerback positions. Claiborne and Alabama's Barron are consensus All Americans. For LSU you add Eric Reid, Brandon Taylor, Ron Brooks, Tharold Simon, and Craig Loston. Man to man, nickel or dime and clearly it's: Advantage - LSU
Cheer girls - Alabama has the Crimsonettes and LSU has the Golden Girls. I am not a big fan of Alabama to be sure, but like all southern states they have some really hot women. The difference is that the Crimsonettes are baton twirlers and are chosen based on their timing and coordination meaning, looks is but one factor. Golden girls are chosen on their hotness and ability to dance. And hot chicks always look good dancing. Does anyone really care that they cannot twirl? Advantage - LSU
Bands - Alabama has the million dollar band. I guess a million dollars was a big deal fifty years ago. Half the coonasses going tailgate for this game will be driving custom made buses worth more than a million. LSU's band plays "Neck" and "Get Crunked". Advantage - LSU
Fans – Alabama fans are legendarily fanatical. Just ask the Toomer's Corner oaks. Hell, Paul Finebaum has become well-to-do sports media name because of it. LSU fans like to pass a good time and have the best tailgates in the world. It's Roll Tide versus Geaux Tigers. It's Cajuns, Coonasses, gris-gris and voodoo versus red necks. Plus, this thing is taking place in South Louisiana. Good things happen to good people. Advantage – LSU
Prediction: This game will feature the two best defenses in college football. The two best defenses in the South. The NFC South. 24 LSU defensive players have contributed in making 98 tackles for losses this year. You've got to give Richardson his due, he'll get his 100 yards and Jefferson, Ware, Blue, Ford, Hilliard, et al will get their 200 yards. The offenses and defenses are so closely matched that LSU vs Alabama Part Deux is going to be a close game again. I think there will be more scoring this time around, mainly because after such a long layoff the play will likely be sloppier. LSU has to avoid the slow starts that plagued them against Arkansas and Georgia. Beating Bama will require at least 4 quarters of great play. I think that this time Jefferson and LSU's plethora of running backs runs those big ass linebackers of Alabama from sideline to sideline and wears them down by the end of the game. But in close games the play on special teams is usually the difference. The Honey Badger has an uncanny knack for the football. You just know he is going to do something at some time. He is like lightening in a rain storm; he is going to strike somewhere. Wing keeps field position in favor of LSU, Alleman kicks field goals, and Alabama's kickers can't hit the side of a barn.
LSU wins by 3 to 12 points.