By Josh Kramer
Welcome to the thunder dome. All eyes will be on the mythical “Superdome” come Monday night as the National (SEC) Championship game transpires. SEC West rumble. Old coach versus new coach. Honey Badger versus Richardson. “Game of the Century Part Deux.” Grab your popcorn, because this game is poised to be far better than any movie.
The majority of the country tuned in to the “Game of the Century Part 1” back on November 5th. And unfortunately, many were disappointed by Round 1 of the heavily hyped game (I was not). Well have no fear, the points will be here on Monday night. With a month to prepare, despite phenomenal defenses, the O’s will at least put up one touchdown apiece (no touchdowns on November 5th).
Now I could bore you with the traditional breakdown position by position. I have a feeling that the excessive minutia has gotten to each and every one of you by this point (don’t worry the game is less than 48 hours away). Let’s be entirely real though. These two teams are very familiar with each other, having played each other 75 times since 1895. Plus they have two of the best coaching staffs in the America. Give these staffs a month to prepare for one game, and I have a feeling the game plans will be on point.
This game will not come down to one thing in particular. Both of these teams are supremely talented on both sides of the ball. They are both very hungry (who wouldn’t be). And they are very well coached.
I realize that Trent Richardson is “angry” and wants redemption. Richardson is sure that Alabama will finish the job this time around. Are you trying to tell me that LSU’s stable of running backs led by Cincinnati-native Spencer Ware are not hungry? The amazing season would be all for nought if they lose this game. This is the game. Everything that happened in the past is the past. These guys have been working since last bowl season to get to Bourbon Street. Now they are here. Who will get to enjoy the party the night of the 9th?
Keys to the game:
Ball Security: Call it cliché if you want. The number one statistic in any football game outside of the final score is turnover margin. Take a wild guess at which team has the top ranked turnover margin in the country? LSU has a +20 turnover margin, though it should be noted that these teams each turned the ball over twice back on November 5th (the deer in headlights Jarrett Lee will not play in this game unless there are injuries though).
Special Teams: The last matchup was determined by the kicking game, or in Alabama’s case, the lack thereof. It still astonishes me that Nick Sabin could not put a kicker out there who could make routine chip shots. I will say that Jeremy Shelly (Alabama’s main kicker) has been better as of late. Also in a game like this, field position is crucial. Not only do I like LSU’s return man better (Mathieu), but they also have the best punter around in Brad Wing.
Quarterback Play: It is no secret that the quarterback is the most important player on the field in most games. Just look at the elite teams in the NFL this year and think about who their quarterbacks are. Alabama has sophomore AJ McCarron. McCarron has had a very solid year and really has utilized the weapons at his disposal (great RB and great defense). Jordan Jefferson, after a very tumultuous offseason, is finally coming into his own. Experience pays huge dividends in big games. Jefferson has it, McCarron does not.
This game is seriously a coin flip. And really, would you want the National Championship Game to be any other way? Games like this come down to one or two big plays. Last time there was the spectacular Eric Reid interception (and of course the inept Bama kicking game). You have two very evenly matched teams playing for a second time on the big stage. This type of rematch is truly unprecedented in college football. And I am fully aware of the saying that it is very hard to beat a great team twice. In this case though, I feel that saying is mute. Alabama outplayed LSU in Round 1 and really should have won the game. That is the thing about this year’s LSU team. They find ways to win no matter what the circumstances are. Remember the first half of the SEC Championship Game? LSU still won by 32 against a very good Georgia team at the Georgia Dome.
Score: LSU 21 Alabama 20
Headline: LSU “Wares” out the Crimson Tide on Bourbon Street. Let the party begin in Louisiana.
Make sure to tune in on Monday night at 8:30PM on ESPN. You will not want to miss this.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.