Well, here we are. The 2011 college football season is all over but the shoutin' this evening in New Orleans.
Can the LSU Tigers manage a second win over Alabama and complete one of the greatest seasons in college football history? Will the Crimson Tide get their revenge?
The Crystal Ball Run writers make their picks.
Kevin McGuire: OK, so we have a rematch. Guess what, my thoughts on this game are pretty similar to what we saw back in November. Both teams have great defenses, which should lead the way in this game once again. But looking back at that first game I think it is a pretty common thought that Nick Saban didn't have his best game. I do expect Alabama to make some adjustments the second time around, but that doesn't mean that Les Miles doesn't have a few tricks up his sleeve either. From both sides, I expect to see a couple touchdowns, and I would not be surprised if this game starts out fast on offense before the defenses gain control. Should be a fun game of course, but I don't think the end result changes as LSU has answered the call all season long. I don't think it changes this time.
LSU 23, Alabama 20
Tom Perry: Any time you give Nick Saban this much time to prepare his team for an opponent you have to like Alabama's chances. I still believe LSU is a bit more talented than the Tide, but Bama won't lose to the Tigers twice in one season. Once this does happen then we can let the controversy begin over who should really be No. 1. I don't believe Oklahoma State has an argument, but LSU certainly will.
Alabama 20, LSU 13
Aaron Torres: As I've spent the last few weeks thinking about this game, I can't help but continue to think two very prominent things:
1) Alabama was the best team I saw in college football this year;
2) LSU is the worst possible matchup for the Tide.
The problem for Alabama is that what it does best – run the ball and play defense – LSU does nearly as well, and the one proven way to attack LSU – with a quick passing game – Alabama can't take advantage of. Earlier this season the Tigers gave up 240 yards passing to Oregon, albeit on 54 attempts, and 463 yards to West Virginia, proving that you can move the ball through the air. But the idea of Alabama putting up numbers anywhere close to that seems not only unlikely, but really, inconceivable. Julio Jones ain't walking through that door, and poor Marquise Maze and Darius Hanks are second and third receivers masquerading as first and seconds. Like the first game, I find it hard to envision them being able to get separation against this almost unfair group of defensive backs from LSU, and because of that, I expect the Tide to struggle moving the ball.
In the end, I think this one will be a little bit more high-scoring than what we saw Nov. 5, but unfortunately for Alabama fans, the result on the scoreboard will be the same.
For the third time in a row, LSU will be crowned champion in New Orleans.
LSU 24, Alabama 17
Michael Felder: We've already seen a preview of this game, where Alabama missed field goals en route to losing by three points in overtime to the Bayou Bengals. This game will be just as much a defensive struggle; the difference is the improvements for both sides on the offensive side. Eddie Lacy's turf toe has had a chance to heal, as has Marquis Maze's ankle, and both of those young men are looking to contribute more to the Tide's offensive effort.
However, the biggest difference will come from LSU's side and Jordan Jefferson. The senior isn't a "spot" player this time around. He is the quarterback. This is his team now and he will be the difference in the game, as he has been the last two times LSU has played Bama.
Both coaches are very good but give me Les Miles and his ability to let his guys "do their thing" over the micromanagement of Nick Saban for the last month and change. Expect a close game, but LSU has too many weapons on offense that Alabama can only dream about.
LSU 20, Alabama 13
Regie Eller: Second verse same as the first?
We all saw – whether you choose to admit it or not – what tremendous, top-notch football looks like on Nov. 5th.
Two excellent defenses, two solid offenses, two great coaches yet again. So what gives?
In round one, special teams and a pivotal turnover forced by LSU swung the game in the Bayou Bengals' direction on the road in Tuscaloosa.
In round 2, I probably get abnormally excited at the thought of these two teams and these two coaching staffs having over a month to prepare for each other. For as many improvements that have been made offensively and any hampered players now being healthy, a long layover plays into the hands of any defense, much less these two juggernauts.
I expect another excellent example of "boring" football.
Yes, the second verse will be the same as the first. Give me the Hat and LSU, again, in a quasi-home game.
LSU 17, Alabama 14
Allen Kenney: The first time these two teams played, the wrong side won. But for some missed field goals and a tough break on a turnover, Alabama would have emerged from what was a hard-fought game between the two best teams in the country.
And that was that game.
Jarrett Lee did a nice job leading LSU early in the season. The Tigers, however, have taken their offense up a notch since they opted midway through the 'Bama game to hand the quarterback job over to Jordan Jefferson. His mobility gives LSU an added dimension that actually made the difference the first time around.
We're talking about two defenses that rank among the best of the last 10 years, but LSU has an edge in offensive playmakers. The Tigers also have a quarterback who's more likely to make plays than his counterpart in crimson, A.J. McCarron. When all is said and done Monday night, LSU will be celebrating a third national championship in 10 years.
LSU 24, Alabama 20
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