Sunday, January 8, 2012

Why the national championship is more important for Alabama

Alabama must win this rematch vs LSU. Plain and simple, if not the reprecussions could be numerous.

Granted, there will be 2 billion people in India and China who don't care who wins the SEC's Super Bowl, but in America, especially the Deep South, it matters.

Alabama and LSU both struggled for consistency in the 1980's and 1990's (lone exception being Gene Stallings tenure at Alabama). LSU has always been one of the most talent rich states in the country for football players, but it wasn't until Nick Saban arrived in Baton Rouge that did LSU start to emerge as a consistent national power.

Nick Saban built the monstor that is LSU football today, winning a BCS Title in 2003. Conventional wisdom seemed to be that once Saban's player left LSU, current LSU coach Les Miles would struggle to maitin that success, whether its was through poor recruiting or bad in game decisions. When Saban returned to the SEC in 2007 at Alabama, this was expected to be magnified.

But a strange thing has happened as Alabama ascended to the top of the football world in 2009, LSU didn't go away. Les Miles sustained Saban's success at LSU. In fact, they won another title in 2007, barely escaping an undermanned Saban team in Tuscaloosa that year. But in 2008 and 2009, Alabama squaked out wins of LSU. 2010 saw the Tide posied to get back into the BCS Title pictue with a win over LSU, but Miles' gambles and decisons paid off as the Tigers pulled out a win.

This led to Novemeber's footballapalooza in Tuscaloosa in a game which Alabama seemed to control but LSU won in overtime 9-6. So if you're scoring at home, Miles now leads Saban 3-2 in the past 5 years. An LSU win Monday in New Orleans (site of LSU's two other titles in 2003 & 2007) will give Miles a 4-2 edge, his second national title and LSU's thrid in 9 years, meaning the Baton Rouge is the center of the college football universe. It also means Alabama will be staring down the barrel of 4 losses in a row to LSU by having to play in tiger Stadium in 2012.

So the balance of power in the SEC and in college football is at stake, more then just a national title game. Saban and Miles both have great legacies as coaches, but to the winner of this game goes the upper hand and it could go a long way to determining who continues to be the dominant force in the SEC.

As for predictions, I find it hard for Alabama to win this game. LSU is tough to beat in the Superdome and I picked LSU in the first game by 3 and sadly I'm leaning towards LSU in this one. But I do really like the focus that the 'Bama players seem to have this week in the Crescent City. But its hard for me to pick Alabama when they lose so much field position in the kicking game. Which means they will have to rely even more on their defense and have AJ McCarron make some plays like he did in the Florida and Auburn games on the road. 'Bama should be better prepared for Jordan Jefferson's option attack this time around and the wildcard in all of this is Jim McElwian who is headed to Colorado State. UA's offense reached new heights under him and I get the feeling he's going to come out aggressive and firing early on, much like the 2009 SEC Ttle Game.

Alabama 24 LSU 20

Also, if you have no rooting interest in this game, don't hate on Alabama for being in this game but instead you should be hoping they win. Because of what happened in Tuscaloosa on April 27th, the city doesn't even look anything close to what it did after that date. It still provides an eery feeling driving through there even now. If anything, the run by Alabama has brought some much needed diversion over the course of the year to the city and an national championship would also go towards helping the mental and economic psyche of the Tuscaloosa. Roll Tide!

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