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Fearless prediction: BCS National Championship
BCS National Championship
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 1 LSU (+1.5), 8:30 p.m.: After more than a month of hype and constant analysis, the game is finally here. Of course, the first match up between Alabama and LSU in November became known as the “Game of the Century.” LSU won that game 9-6 in overtime in Tuscaloosa. Now comes the rematch (“Game of the Century II?”) with a national title at stake. Playing in the Superdome will give LSU somewhat of a home crowd advantage. But in reality, the crowd won’t decide the overcome. As LSU head coach Les Miles told reporters on Sunday, “I’d expect it to be big boy football.” The story of the first game for Alabama was missed opportunities. Alabama missed four field goals and had a pass intercepted at the LSU 1-yard line. The Crimson Tide can’t duplicate that amount of mistakes this time around and can’t afford to miss out on any scoring opportunities. Alabama will need a big game from running back Trent Richardson, who was held to 89 yards on 23 carries against LSU in the first game. Richardson, however, did have 80 receiving yards. Quarterback A.J. McCarron will also need to win the quarterback battle against LSU’s Jordan Jefferson. McCarron completed 16 of 28 passes for 199 yards and an interception in the first game. The LSU defense is going to make sure it shuts down Richardson and makes McCarron beat them. Remember, the Tigers have All-American cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne. Alabama head coach Nick Saban has had more than a month to prepare for LSU’s rushing attack and the running ability of Jefferson. That will be a big key for Alabama – shut down the LSU running game and force Jefferson to be a passer. LSU has been very successful this season when wearing opponents down over the second half of games. Another concern for Alabama is making sure an electric play from Mathieu or Jefferson doesn’t swing momentum quickly. Mathieu has been able to energize his team and flip the switch on a game with a punt return or fumble recovery. Jefferson is certainly a threat to score with his legs and can do plenty of damage when he is “on” throwing the ball. I’ve been leaning towards Alabama for about the past week because I think Saban will have his defense more than ready for Jefferson and running backs Michael Ford, Spencer Ware and Kenny Hilliard. But I believe LSU is the deeper team and has been battle-tested throughout the season with quality wins over Oregon, West Virginia and Arkansas (who all won their bowl games). LSU also has the advantage with special teams, which could be a huge factor in this game. There will be more scoring this time, but it will still be close. LSU 19, Alabama 17