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Louisiana State and Alabama couldn’t settle the ultimate debate when the Tigers took a slim 9-6 overtime victory against the Crimson Tide back in Week 10. Thankfully, the powers that be have pitted these SEC rivals against each other again – this time for the national championship.
And, just like last time, we turn to each team’s respective expert for insight into Monday’s BCS National Championship Game.
We put the gloves on LSU blogger Billy Gomila of AndTheValleyShook.com and Alabama blogger D.K. Miranda of IBleedCrimsonRed.com, and let them debate which team – LSU or Alabama – will come out on top, not only on the scoreboard but also at the sportsbook.
How does Alabama change those field goals into touchdowns against LSU this time around?
Alabama leads the nation in 10-20 yard rushing plays from scrimmage and the Tide should stick with what works. Now that Eddie Lacy’s injury has had time to heal, Bama has a 1-2-3 punch with Trent Richardson, Lacy and Jalston Fowler that will grind out the tough downs and stay ahead of the chains.
What did Alabama learn from the first meeting with LSU and what does it do differently in the BCS title game?
Field position is key when two teams are so evenly matched, and trick plays are fun but it’s better to stick with your core game. This time around the Tide will not hesitate to return punts like the key LSU fourth-quarter punt downed at the Alabama 18, and don't expect to see anybody other than A.J. McCarron throwing the ball.
What is the Tide's biggest X-factor in the BCS title game?
Alabama tight ends Brad Smelley and Michael Williams. They’re big targets in the passing game and critical factors in the run game. Smelley was the Tide’s top receiver in the last two games. Williams is one of the best run-blocking tight ends in college ball, and it’s a given he would like to prove he can hold onto the ball and the win for Alabama.
Final score prediction: Alabama 14, LSU 10
Alabama punted only twice in the first matchup with LSU. Instead of attempting long field goals, expect Nick Saban to be more conservative and punt on fourth downs. To set up explosive rush plays, Jim McElwain will throw the kitchen sink of short yardage passes against the LSU linebacker corps. If the Tide can break off some big scoring runs, then red-zone conversion won’t be the factor it was on November 5.
What adjustment/correction must LSU make from the first meeting with Alabama before facing the Tide for the national title?
First and foremost, the Tigers offensive line must do a better job of creating room for the interior running game. LSU had some success with the perimeter and option game in the last meeting, but their bread and butter is still between the tackles.
Was the Tigers offense too conservative in the first meeting with Alabama, attempting only 17 passes? Should they change that strategy in the BCS title game?
I think the Tigers offense did what it had to, given its quarterback situation in Game 1. This offense has thrived on running the ball and letting either of its QB's manage things, and I doubt that will change much. But if one quarterback starts off the game on a hot streak, you might see that pass number go up some.
What is LSU's biggest X-factor heading into the BCS title game?
The semi home-field advantage of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome could be a factor if things go LSU's way early on. It won't be a true home field, with something around a probable 60-40 split in favor of the Tigers. But LSU fans and the Superdome can get really loud.
Final score prediction: LSU 21, Alabama 13
I'm not one for predictions, but if I had to guess it'll be another tight game. If LSU can create an advantage, either in field position or maybe even some points with special teams or defense, things will roll down hill.
The original blogger debate from November 5th can be found here.
Bama updates on Twitter @LivingCrimson.