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NCAA Footbal BCS Bowl: Alabama vs. LSU

Trent Richardson
Alabama RB Trent Richardson

The two best teams in the country will square off in a rematch of their matchup in November when the No. 1 LSU Tigers face the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday in the BCS Championship Game.

Talented on offense, too

The fact that both of these teams are excellent on defense is well-documented and quite apparent both on the field and on paper.  Alabama and LSU rank first and second respectively in both points against and total yards against as Alabama allowed just 8.8 points and 191.3 yards per game and LSU allowed 10.5 points per game and 252.1 total yards per game. LSU finished 13-0 SU and 10-3 against the college football odds while Alabama was 11-1 SU and 8-4 ATS.

But while the media tends to focus strictly on these stingy defenses, it sometimes gets overlooked how strong these rushing offenses are as well. Alabama finished 14th in the nation in rushing with 219.8 rushing yards per game and 17th in the nation in scoring with 36 points per game. Trent Richardson led the way with 1,584 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, followed by Eddie Lacy who rushed for 631 yards and seven touchdowns on just 84 carries.

LSU finished 17th in the nation in rushing with 215.2 rushing yards per game and 12th in the nation in scoring with 38.5 points per game. LSU remarkably had four different running backs with at least seven touchdowns as Michael Ford (755 yards on 123 carries) and Alfred Blue (539 yards on 78 carries) had seven each and Spencer Ware (700 yards on 174 carries) and Kenny Hilliard (320 yards on 57 carries) each had eight. The rushing game got even stronger at the end of the season when Jordan Jefferson took over at quarterback and opened up the speed option.

Nick Saban suggested that the offenses may play a bigger role this time around, and he may be right; the defenses deserve the respect they are receiving, but these are talented units as well.

Last time around

The last time these two teams played back on November 5, LSU was a 5.5-point underdog against the college football odds heading into Alabama, but came out on top 9-6 in overtime. The game stayed well under the total of 41.5 with just 15 points of total offense.

The story of the game was special teams as Alabama had a miserable kicking day. The Crimson Tide lined up for six field goal tries and only made two of them, with two kickers combining for four misses including the crucial miss in overtime to allow LSU to win it with a field goal. LSU’s Drew Alleman was a perfect 3-for-3 on his field goal attempts.

In many ways, Alabama outplayed LSU, outgaining the Tigers 295 yards to 239 and getting into field goal range five times during regulation to LSU’s two times. But LSU converted on its attempts and Alabama didn’t.

It’s also worth noting that the last game was in Alabama. The BCS Championship Game is in Louisiana, and while it won’t be a true home game for LSU with seating allotment and Alabama traveling well, it will be a much less hostile environment than the one the Tigers had to travel into in November.

Recent history favors LSU

In bowl games, it is rare to be able to look at recent history between the two opponents, but considering this game is between conference rivals, there is plenty of history here. Since 2006, LSU is 4-2 SU over Alabama including two straight wins while Alabama holds the slight edge against the college football odds at 3-2-1. LSU is a 1-point favorite for Monday.

Interestingly, the last game going UNDER was a bit of an anomaly in this series; the OVER was 4-0-1 in the previous five meetings between these two teams as four of those five games broke 40 points.

***

SA Take: We love the rematch here and this time like Alabama to win and cover. And if you are into betting totals we suggest the under. We are expecting a great football game and very solid plays from both teams. But in the end we can see Alabama winning by a touchdown or more.

The stage is set. Get all your Bowl betting lines for this week at Bovada’s online sportsbook.

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Monday, January 9th, 2012 College Football Betting 2011

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