Alabama vs. LSU. No. 1 vs. No. 2. Saban. Miles. Two irrepressibly bad-ass defenses. This is the game of the season, the century and potentially the entire spectrum of human experience. This true SEC title game cannot possibly live up to the hype, but the spectacle alone will be brilliant.
Media Count: Alabama credentialed 650 media members for this game. That’s 200 more than a normal Iron Bowl. The only contest rivaling the game itself for viciousness may be the halftime stampede to the mens’ room.
Circular Logic: Jen Engel brings up an excellent point. The BCS’ conflicting, indefensible principles have turned on each other. The BCS’ stated purposes are to place the two best teams in a title game and to preserve the sanctity of the regular season. Alabama and LSU are clearly the two best teams. They will still be so if they both win out. Any other matchup would not be the two best teams, killing the first premise. Matching the two teams up would render the mammoth regular season meeting irrelevant, killing the second. Sensible Solution: Playoff.
Previously: Alabama has the statistical advantage, but LSU has played a better schedule. An interview with former LSU quarterback Josh Booty. A look at the quarterback battle. We previewed the game more thoroughly here.
For LSU to Win: LSU must use its athleticism at wide receiver for once, stretching Alabama horizontally with quick passing and vertically with deep balls over the top. This places pressure on Jarrett Lee who must be not just efficient but effective while throwing more often than he has been comfortable with this season. He also must be spot on reading the defense, adjusting his blocking and checking out of misguided plays. The Tigers must also score early before Alabama can adjust. Defensively, they must lock down the relatively pedestrian Crimson Tide receivers in man to man coverage, permitting them to load the box as best they can against Trent Richardson
For Alabama to Win: Richardson will be the best player on the field. Alabama needs him to make plays. He must get consistent yardage. He must get to the second-level and break off a few big gains. Here is where he wins or loses the Heisman. Defensively, they must do what they have done all season against mundane offenses: adjust, smother and not get beat over the top. Disguising coverages and blitzes, getting pressure and forcing LSU into long passing downs could be the winning formula against the unproven Lee.
Prediction: I know Alabama can run against a top-tier run defense. I know Saban has the brains and the personnel to adjust and stymie an underwhelming offense. I don’t know that Jarrett Lee can lead the charge against an elite defense and emerge victorious. It’s hard to pick against either team, but I have to go with the men playing at home. Alabama 21-13 LSU.
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day.
– William Shakespeare, Henry V
[Photos via Getty]