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Fearless Rick's 2011-12 College Football National Championship Picks

Rick Gagliano | January 9, 2012

All times Eastern - Click here for BCS Bowl Games.

Monday, January 9

Allstate BCS National Championship Game, Superdome, New Orleans, LA
8:30 pm LSU Tigers (13-0) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) (-2, 41) - One hates to throw cold water on what is billed as a "national championship," but this game does not fit the bill which the BCS has presented.

LSU was the only team in the nation to finish its season undefeated, wiping the Georgia Dome turf with Bulldogs, beating a good Georgia team by a convincing, 42-10, score in the SEC championship.

Since Alabama already had their shot at the Tigers - and blew it - losing in overtime, 9-6, AT HOME, the Crimson Tide should not have been given another shot at LSU. The Tigers won that game, knocking Alabama out of the SEC championship, and rolled on. Alabama lost. Deal with it. End of story. Move on.

Granted, that 9-6 score was the closest call of the season for LSU. No other team came closer to beating them than Mississippi State, which also lost at home to the Tigers, 19-6, back in mid-September, and Oregon, in the first game of the season for both teams. The Ducks were run out of Cowboy Stadium by the score of 40-27, and it wasn't even that close. Besides those two games and the Alabama win, the average score of LSU's other games was 42-10, and that includes wins over West Virginia, Florida, Auburn, Arkansas and Georgia. No other team in the country can count as many bowl-eligible or ranked opponents than the 13-0 LSU Tigers.

They've already done enough ot be crowned the kings of college football for this season. This 14th game - for them, 13th for Alabama - is an unnecessary formality because the stupidity of the BCS system demands that there be a national championship game, though this one is on dubious grounds. Teams already beaten by one entrant, and teams which did not win their conference championships (Alabama didn't even play in theirs!) should be disqualified from competing for the national title. In the case of the Crimson Tide winning, what then would be their claim? Champions of everything except the SEC, which LSU won.

And therein lies the risk and uttermost folly of this non-essential game - the chance that Alabama might beat LSU. In that case, the Tigers would fall to 13-1, and Alabama would rise to the same record.

Co-national champions? Maybe, but since the BCS calculates everything out to thousands of points and the TV coverage and hoopla surrounding the game demands that somebody hoist a trophy and is declared the #1 team in the country, it would likely end up that the Crimson Tide would claim the prize.

But wait. What about Oklahoma State? Didn't they also finish 13-1, winning the Fiesta Bowl, 41-38, over Stanford, another team that entered the bowl season with just one loss but was denied the opportunity because of the BCS's lack of propriety, fair play and understanding of what fans really want (outside of the state of Alabama, of course).

So, no, even if Alabama does beat LSU - a distinct, though not particularly palatable possibility - LSU should still be the national champions. Alabama already lost to LSU. AT HOME. Get over it.

OK, so the BCS is very flawed, college football needs a playoff system to replace the endless parade of mostly-meaningless 35 bowl games every season, but this game is still going to be played, the final score will go into the record books and that will be that, but maybe, just maybe, the cries of foul from the likes of Boise State (13-1, and their only loss was by one point, to TCU), Oklahoma State, Stanford and various coaches, fans, writers, bloggers and other assorted loudmouths will be so loud and so persistent that the BCS centrally-planned, nice and neat bowl set-up will finally go the way of the horse-drawn carriage, tape recorders and other human inventions that fell to obsolescence at the hands of innovation. (That may be a record for the longest sentence in the history of sports writing. Mark it down.)

The game will be played and it is likely to be just as offensively-challenged as the first meeting between these two teams - a defensive struggle throughout, punctuated by the occasional field goal attempt. It could also go to overtime, just like the last one, which would be very much to the liking of the ESPN network, which could then cram even more ads into their 4+ hour-long broadcast.

--- Story continues below ---

Looking for the best NFL Handicapper? Good luck. Most of them suck.

Analysis is simply not possible in this match-up. The statistical comparisons are very close. The two teams are the top two defensive units in the country. Offensively, LSU scored, on average, 38.5 points per game; Alabama, 36.0, though the case can be made that Alabama's schedule was far easier than that of the Tigers. The Crimson Tide played only three ranked teams: Penn State, Arkansas and LSU, and they lost one of those games. Besides LSU, six Alabama opponents played in bowl games. Besides Alabama, LSU played seven bowl eligible teams and six ranked opponents.

Without a clear-cut advantage statistically or in terms of definitive match-ups, what's left are intangibles, in the form of coaching, style, and pressure. Alabama's Nick Saban is a button-down, business-like, calculating personality who by now has scripted just exactly how the Crimson Tide will win its 14th national collegiate football championship.

Conversely, Les Miles is a risk-taking, loose cannon type of guy who relishes the limelight and making sport of traditions and biases. His attitude to his players is to play hard and have fun. Miles is the consummate happy warrior and his players reflect that in their preparation and on-field play.

That's a big edge for LSU in a pressure-filled environment. They believe they're the better team. They've already beaten these impostors from Alabama. If America wants to see them beat them again, perhaps more decisively, so be it. They're game.

Alabama has put itself under a great deal of pressure by accepting the invitation to play in this game. Not that they would have or could have turned it down, but, as some people might say, it would have been the sporting thing to do, having already lost to the Tigers. AT HOME. They cannot get over it until LSU beats them again.

And that's what will most likely happen. LSU has proven to be a superior team all season long, even with their second string QB - Jarrett Lee - running the offense for the better part of the first half of the season while Jordan Jefferson worked through his legal problems stemming from a pre-season brawl.

LSU is already the national champion. This game will only serve to verify that. And if Les Miles decides to let his kids run up the score a little on the poor, old Crimson Tide, he by all means should.

Prediction: LSU 24 Alabama 6

All times Eastern - Click here BCS Bowl Games

Copyright 2011, 2012, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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