If you’ve been following Sports in Stilettos for even a little while, you know I love college football above and beyond just about everything else, so you’d think I’d be just a little bit excited for tonight’s “national” championship game.
Here’s the truth: I’m not.
I wish this game wasn’t even happening.
I hope LSU wins (though if I were the betting type, I wouldn’t put money on it), but I don’t think they should have to win this game to be this year’s national champions (note: for all you sticklers out there, this is, technically, the BCS Championship Game).
LSU already beat Alabama - and everyone else on the schedule. This weekend, CBSSports.com’s Mr. CFB Tony Barnhart tweeted: “LSU has beaten the Rose Bowl Champs, Orange Bowl champs, Cotton Bowl champs, Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Georgia in Atlanta.”
Every other team had at least one loss.
That’s pretty darn impressive, so if anyone else wants to go ahead and call the Tigers this season’s champs, I’m okay with that.
Sure, LSU could lose tonight. It’s very, very possible - but I don’t think an Alabama win makes the Crimson Tide the undisputed champions. Why should they be, if they only have to beat LSU once for the title, but the Tigers have to beat them twice?
I’m pulling for LSU tonight, because I like them better and because I want them to finish the season completely undefeated, completely 100% no-questions-asked the undisputed BCS - and national - champions.
If I had my way, they’d already have the trophy.
Before the first LSU-Alabama Game of the Year this year, I wrote a look back at the head-to-head match-ups between Alabama under Nick Saban and LSU under Les Miles. Man, is this ever a rivalry. At the time, the series was evenly split, with each team having two wins in very close games. Obviously, LSU pulled ahead with the win in the regular season matchup, but it was a 3-0 win in overtime, so I’d say any game between these two is too close to call.
(For the record, I’m pulling for the Tigers, but I wouldn’t bet on it.)
Here’s the full text of the post I wrote for CollegeFootballNews.com earlier this season:
It’s been four years since the LSU-Alabama rivalry became the must-watch Saban Bowl, pitting former LSU coach Nick Saban against current LSU coach Les Miles in a game that often has SEC, if not national, title implications. Each coach has two wins - one home, one on the road. Both won national championships at LSU - Saban in ‘03, Miles in ‘07 - and with a win Saturday, one will have the inside track to another title.
Recent match-ups have featured formidable defenses, uneven offenses, lucky breaks and close finishes.
2007 - LSU exacted revenge when Saban first faced his former team with a 41-34 win in the series’ highest-scoring game. Despite the score, the defenses weren’t pushovers; the Tigers sacked Tide QB John Parker Wilson seven times and held Alabama to just twelve yards rushing, and LSU’s QB Matt Flynn was intercepted on three straight possessions. The game nearly became a rout after LSU reeled off 17 straight points, but Wilson threw three touchdowns to bring ‘Bama back. Down 34-27 with 3:00 left, LSU converted a 4th and 4 to set up the game-tying touchdown. Then the defense took over, forcing a fumble to get the ball back and give the offense the opportunity to win the game.
2008 - Saban survived his return to Death Valley and left victorious, as the Tide clinched the division with a 27-21 overtime win. Alabama lost a fumble on the opening possession, but LSU wasn’t any more eager to keep the ball, as QB Jarrett Lee threw the first of four interceptions, setting up a Tide touchdown. LSU bounced back with two touchdowns in under a minute thanks to Julio Jones’ fumbled kickoff return, and with 6:00 left, the game was tied. Alabama’s Leigh Tiffin attempted a 29-yard field goal for the win, but LSU blocked it to send the game into overtime. The Tigers’ luck ran out around the same time as the game clock, as another Lee INT on the first possession of overtime led to Alabama’s game-winning touchdown.
2009 - LSU was just a speed bump as the Crimson Tide rolled its way toward a BCS title with a 24-15 win. The Tigers’ starting quarterback and running back were knocked out of the game, and Mark Ingram exploded for a 106-yard second half to help Alabama gain 452 total yards to LSU’s 253. The Tigers’ failed two-point conversion attempt late in the third left the door open for Alabama, and Saban took the lead in the series thanks to Trent Richardson’s successful two-point conversion after Julio Jones’ 73-yard fourth quarter touchdown.
2010 - In a game remembered as much for Miles’ sideline snacking as the on-field excitement, LSU rallied twice from second-half deficits to upset Alabama, 24-21. Facing 4th and 1, Miles nibbled on some Tiger Stadium grass, then called a reverse that went for 23 yards to set up the go-ahead touchdown. LSU’s balanced offensive attack (208 yards passing, 225 rushing) and Rueben Randle’s big game (a 75-yard touchdown from Jordan Jefferson and a 47-yard catch from Jarrett Lee to convert on third down in the final minutes) put the Tigers on top and evened the series.
2011 - Alabama has a competent game manager in QB AJ McCarron; LSU has a more potent offense than expected with the QB tandem of Jefferson and Lee. Alabama has Heisman candidate Trent Richardson; LSU has a cadre of lesser-known, but not necessarily less talented, backs of its own. Both defenses are tenacious, with up-and-coming stars like LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu and ‘Bama’s Courtney Upshaw and Dont’a Hightower.
The Saban-Miles series couldn’t be more evenly split, but that will change Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. In this rare battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2, the gap between these teams is, at least on paper, minuscule. If they’re equally matched on the field, the outcome will come down to preparation, coaching, and who gets the lucky breaks. Saban’s coaching prowess is evident in his stellar record, including two national titles at two different schools, but if luck’s involved, it’s risky business betting against Miles.
Update: As we know, Miles did come away with the win - but the 3-0 overtime win kept the margin between these two teams still miniscule. I wouldn’t bet against Saban in this one, but I’d like to see LSU finish undefeated this year.
Who ya got?
I can’t decide. I generally prefer LSU, but I’m not categorically opposed to Alabama, either. I cheered for them hardcore when they won the title in ‘09, “the enemy of Texas is my friend,” etc.
On paper, this one is going to be too close to call.
Last four years: 2 wins each, 1 on the road, 1 at home.
Tipping point comes tonight, and after looking into it, I still don’t know who I’d pick.
Yesterday, apropos of nothing except Baltimore’s Purple Friday, I wore this:
When I realized I’d been rocking the houndstooth all day, I figured that was a sign in favor of Alabama. Two seconds later, I realized it was purple houndstooth.
Alabama print. LSU color. One dress.
THAT is how close this game is*
*On paper, this game looks like it should be close, with LSU a smidge ahead. On the field, I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘Bama (or LSU, either way) wins in a landslide. In fact, I would be highly entertained by that given the ridiculous levels of attention this game has received in the media all week (yes, I’m guilty too, I know).
I have my own LSU-Alabama piece coming up on CollegeFootballNews that I’ll link when it’s up, but it pales in comparison with this SI piece, because this SI piece uses the word “meh” in the headline.
MEH IS IN A SPORTS ILLUSTRATED HEADLINE.
It’s not even a word, really, is it? More like a syllable? And it’s in a Sports Illustrated headline.
I am 100% on board with this.
(Full disclosure: I did not actually read the article linked here before I posted said link. SIS does not endorse this article (yet), just the header, so read at your own risk. It might not be very good, just meh.)