15 reasons LSU is taking home the title tonightPosted by ForeverLSUjhk on 1/9/12 at 9:06 am 50
15. Home sweet Dome
You can try to measure Alabama's presence in the Superdome all you want. No matter how you calibrate it, however, LSU will still have a home-field advantage. New Orleans may be a city unto itself, but it is still a part of Louisiana. With all that is at stake, the BCS Championship Game is supposed to be played at a neutral site. This one, as were the past two at the Superdome, will not be. LSU held a distinct advantage against Oklahoma eight years ago and against Ohio State four years ago. The Tigers will have an advantage Monday night. And while you're at it, go ahead and pencil in LSU to finish in the top two in the 2015 season. If the BCS remains in its current format, that's the next time the title game will be held in New Orleans.
14. Run, Tigers, run
Ford In the 85-scholarship age, when coaches find developing depth is as difficult as nuclear physics, LSU uses four tailbacks to wear down defenses. Sophomores Michael Ford, Spencer Ware and Alfred Blue combined with freshman Kenny Hilliard to rush for 2,314 yards and 30 touchdowns. All four of them had at least two games of 10 carries or more. Ford, the only one of the four who did not have a 100-yard game (season high: 98, versus Oregon) led the Tigers in the Nov. 5 victory at Alabama with 72 yards. In a game when the Tigers kept running wide in order to the tire the Crimson Tide defense, Ford set up Drew Alleman's winning field goal with a 15-yard run around left end in overtime. "They do a good job of running all plays with all backs," Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said Saturday. "It's tough to defend. They're fresh. By the end of the day, I wouldn't care which back was in. They use them all so much. In the fourth quarter, your linebackers have tackled them 30 times, and they're getting tackled for the fourth time."
13. Tigers have trust
Jefferson Many of the LSU Tigers celebrated the end of two-a-days in August at a local nightclub. But a brawl broke out, and two Tigers, starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and linebacker Josh Johns, were indicted on felony charges. Head coach Les Miles suspended both players. A grand jury dismissed the charge against Johns and reduced the charge against Jefferson to a misdemeanor, but now one month of the season had elapsed. That kind of episode can tear a team apart. "Instead," offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa said, "it did the exact opposite. It brought them so much closer together. That's why these kids never panic. They believe in each other. They trust each other. It doesn't matter who's quarterback. It doesn't matter who's running the ball. It doesn't matter who's on defense. John Chavis makes plays with all those guys. And that has brought this team closer together." The brawl that appeared to endanger LSU's national championship run may have helped put it together.
12. Courage under pressure
Kragthorpe That wasn't the only adversity that brought LSU closer together. When offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe came down with Parkinson's disease earlier this year, Miles made Studrawa offensive coordinator and Kragthorpe the quarterbacks coach. LSU never missed a beat. But the Tigers did learn how to rally around their coach and get a close-up view of what real courage looks like.
11. Calm under pressure
When Studrawa said that his team doesn't panic, he may have been referring to the last two games of the season. The Tigers fell behind Arkansas 14-0, then cruised to a 41-17 victory. A week later, LSU fell behind Georgia 10-0 in the SEC championship game. The Tigers failed to make a first down in the first half. They won 42-10. In the fourth quarter, LSU outscored Arkansas and Georgia by a combined 31-0. No, the Tigers don't panic.
10. Les is more
Miles Nick Saban has lost 12 games in five seasons at Alabama. Six came in 2007, his first year. The only coach to beat Saban more than once is LSU's Les Miles. Miles is 2-1 against Saban in Tuscaloosa and 3-2 against Saban overall. But here's the statistic that says advantage, Miles: in all three of those victories, Alabama led after three quarters. In 2007, 27-24 (final: LSU 41-34). In 2010, 14-10 (final: LSU 24-21). In 2011, 6-3 (final: LSU 9-6 OT).
9. Experience matters
Strength of schedule may be a hollow argument when we have the evidence of LSU-Alabama I. The Tigers and the Tide fought each other to a draw, right? Hold on a minute -- Alabama played that game before a raucous home crowd but couldn't close the deal. LSU comes into New Orleans with more experience -- and success -- against the nation's best. The Tigers opened with No. 3 Oregon. They closed with No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Arkansas and No. 12 Georgia in the last five weeks. Alabama played one top-10 team: LSU.
8. Just for kicks
Wing LSU holds a distinct advantage in the kicking game. Punter Brad Wing's ability to place his kicks and to punt on the run are big reasons the Tigers are fourth in the nation in net punting (43.82-yard average; LSU has allowed a total of 6 punt-return yards). Kicker Drew Alleman's range may be limited -- his long kick is 44 yards -- but at 16-of-18, he is money.
7. Protecting the ball
The Tigers play a disciplined brand of football. Look no further than their turnover statistics. LSU is first in the FBS in fewest giveaways(8) and first in turnover margin, as well. Given that the Tigers have deployed two QBs and four RBs, the offense's care with the ball is remarkable.
6. Sweet as Honey
Mathieu No cornerback since Charles Woodson of Michigan won the 1997 Heisman Trophy has captured the nation's attention like LSU sophomore Tyrann Mathieu. He became a Heisman finalist, the Bednarik Award winner (top defensive player), a ball hawk (2INTs, 6forced fumbles) and a top punt returner.
5. Mo problems for Bama
Claiborne The Honey Badger may be the most identifiable LSU player and a national award winner, but he's not even the best cornerback on the Tigers' defense. Junior Morris Claiborne won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back. Claiborne has size, speed (4.45 40-yard dash) and hands (six interceptions for 173 return yards and a touchdown). Because Mathieu has been on the other side, quarterbacks have had to throw at him. That's worked out well for the Tigers.
4. Time on their side
Miles beat Saban in November when both teams had a bye week. Miles is 7-0 in season openers, including this year, when the Tigers soundly defeated No. 3 Oregon 40-27. And Miles is 5-1 in bowls, the lone loss coming to Penn State 19-17 in the mud bath that was the 2010 Capital One Bowl. Give Miles and his staff time, and they will find a way to beat you.
Saban long has been one of the top defensive minds in the game. But LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis is respected throughout college football. He spent 14 seasons running the defense at Tennessee, including the 1997 championship team, before coming to LSU in 2009. After coaching a unit on which 10 Tigers made first- or second-team All-SEC, Chavis won the Broyles Award, given to the top assistant coach.
2. Red zone ready
LSU capitalizes on its opportunities better than Alabama does. The Tigers are 57-of-61 in the red zone this season, scoring 44 touchdowns and 13 field goals. Alabama is the only team that held LSU without a touchdown in the red zone, but the Tigers did convert three very important field goals. The Tide went 48-of-55 in the red zone this season. However, those 48 scores include 32 TDs and 16 FGs.
1. Animal instincts
Two great traditions, two passionate fan bases, two teams that are used to playing for the big trophy. But, seriously, take a look at the mascots. Alabama has a student in an elephant suit. LSU has a real, live tiger who lives in a seven-figure home. When the teams are separated by so little, Mike the Tiger may be the tiebreaker.