So 30 minutes are in the book, and it's safe to say that the BCS National Championship game is going according to NO ONE'S plan. Alabama has a 9-0 lead, and really, if they had a bit better execution inside the red zone, they could be up by a lot more.
Here are 10 thoughts on everything so far, including what's happened, what's to come, and a closing thought from my colleague Tom Perry:
1. Well, well, well. After nearly costing Alabama a shot at the National Championship the first time these two teams played (not to mention, after nearly getting running out of the state), Jeremy Shelley was undoubtedly the star of the first half. He’s accounted for all nine points in this game, and was 3-4 kicking field goals.
Not only is he not the goat, Shelley is basically 60 minutes from basically becoming the Governor of Alabama. Only in college football, huh?
2. Overall there is little doubt that Alabama simply looks like the better prepared team tonight.
It shows up most notably on the stat sheet, where incredibly, the Tide have outgained LSU by a 225-43 to margin, a number that has actually looked worse with the eyes than it does on paper. Really though, where LSU can't seem to get out of their way is with penalties. The Tigers have committed three for 15 yards, including a couple false starts that put them behind the chains and in precarious field position. It's hard enough to move the ball against Alabama as it is... and the last thing you need is to have to go an extra five yards to pick up a first down.
More than anything they need to change schematically at halftime, the Tigers simply need to relax and just play football.
3. While we’re talking about Alabama, how about A.J. McCarron? The unfairly maligned quarterback for the Tide has been simply spectacular so far, completing 18 of 25 passes for 156 yards, and was one big pass from Brad Smelley from basically having already put this game away.
Speaking of which…
4. How about Brad Smelley?
It was obvious entering this game that someone besides Trent Richardson had to step up offensively for the Crimson Tide, and Smelley has been that guy so far. His six catches lead the team, and total the same number that LSU’s entire roster has. Wow.
As someone just joked on Twitter, both offenses are pretty smelley tonight.
5. Finally, if you’re LSU, the biggest concern has got to be the run game. The speed option with Jordan Jefferson has gotten sniffed out every time it’s been run, and outside of 10 yards from Jefferson, the rest of the backs have combined for a total of seven yards.
Not a good look for a team trying to win a title tonight.
Now, here are four things to watch out for in the second half:
1. Who wins this game may end up being decided by who wins the third quarter. Obviously Alabama has the edge right now, but remember, nobody controlled the first 15 minutes out of halftime like the Tigers did this year. On the season, they outscored the opposition 135-33 in the third quarter. Incredibly, since the last Alabama game, they outscored their opponents 52-5. Needless to say, that's basically unbelievable.
2. LSU’s defensive backs need to make a play, but so too do their defensive lineman.
While it’d be easy to strictly blame the DB’s, some credit needs to go to McCarron for simply getting the ball out of his hand before LSU’s big eaters up front can get to him.
At the very least, LSU's defensive linemen need to start getting their hands up to try and bat down some of these throws.
3. How about the special teams? LSU was dominant this year, but when your kickers can’t kick and return men can’t return, that makes it pretty tough.
If LSU can force a punt- and right now, that’s a big if- it make take some more Tyrann Mathieu Magic to spice things up.
4. Brent Musberger is simply out of his mind with this “Honey Badger don’t care stuff.” Seriously, someone get him a bed pan, a blanket and a 10pm bedtime? Because he shouldn’t be calling the biggest game of the college football season.
Where the hell is Brad Nessler when you need him?
And finally, a final thought from my colleague Tom Perry:
I don't care if there were many who didn't want this rematch and they don't like tough defense. I'm not hating this. The field is loaded with future NFL talent and you can tell these are clearly the best two teams in the country. Sorry Oklahoma State, Oregon, USC, whoever. No one could stick with these two teams.
Follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.
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