Tulsa's obliteration of Bowling Green increased my overall record to 19-12, though it dropped my record against the score to 7-14. This is not terrible, seeing as how I have to land within a TD against each team's final score to get a win in the latter category, but it's still not great. And when it comes to the GMAC Bowl, I was, alas, not even in the neighborhood of how competitive the game would be.
But on to the last game of the year, the BCS title tilt in New Orleans. I expect a good game, an exciting game that opens up at the end. But more on that later. I will not do the fun sponsor fact, since the name that precedes this bowl already got that treatment in my Sugar Bowl preview. Other than that, this is the most prolific of the bullet-point previews, and follows a previous post looking at the matchups in this game.
That said, I can't cover everything, so I've also given you a link to my SB Nation colleagues from the involved schools. Enjoy.
Bowl: BCS Title Game, 8 p.m., Fox
Teams: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 1 Ohio State
SB Nation blog for LSU: And the Valley Shook
SB Nation blog for Ohio State: Around the Oval
LSU's season was... Perhaps the most bizarre road to the BCS title game in the history of the series. LSU becomes the first two-loss team to take part in a BCS title bout after overtime losses to both Kentucky and Arkansas. Head coach Les Miles was derided and praised -- sometimes at the same time -- for odd decisions that nonetheless seemed to be right more often than they were wrong. All the same, an expected shot at the national championship seemed lost until LSU beat Tennessee in Atlanta for the SEC crown on the same night Oklahoma beat then-No. 1 Missouri and Pitt stunned then-No. 2 West Virginia. Meanwhile, Miles was widely assumed -- by LSU fans, Michigan fans and anyone who pays any attention to college football -- to be headed to Ann Arbor when Wolverines head coach Lloyd Carr retired. But Miles emotionally declared at the SEC CG that he would remain with the Bayou Bengals -- perhaps because the Michigan AD was out sailboating, believe it or not. It was the kind of season, in other words, that makes what happened in Arkansas seem downright tame.
Ohio State's season was... Relatively calm, at least when compared to LSU's. Jim Tressel was not rumored to be bolting anywhere, and the Buckeyes were expected to be good but not great after losing much of the team that got blasted by Florida in last year's BCS title game. But Ohio State just kept winning, sometimes in unspectacular fashion, until a loss against Illinois in the next-to-last week of the season seemed to remove the Buckeyes from the national title race. A 14-3 victory over archrival Michigan appeared to lock up little more than a Big Ten championship, a confirmation of Tressel's dominance over Carr and an outside shot at the BCS title if someone screwed up. Some two did, putting Ohio State in the No. 1 slot yet again, against yet another SEC champion.
LSU impact player: DT Glenn Dorsey, whose injuries late in the season seemed to nag not just at Dorsey, but at the entire LSU defense. The team was different when the All-American was healthy, as he is expected to be tonight. If LSU needs to shut down the run and pressure the passer -- and the Tigers will need to do both to some extent -- Dorsey will be key to the strategy. He had 11.5 TFL, setting opponents back 48 yards, and 6.0 sacks, planting the victimized QBs a total of 40 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Defense wins championships. So do large, scary-looking men.
Ohio State impact player: RB Chris "Beanie" Wells has been spectacular where QB Todd Boeckman has been efficient. Wells ran for 1,463 yards on 254 carries (5.8 ypc) and found the endzone 14 times on the ground. He averaged 121.9 yards rushing per game. LSU will most likely try to shut Wells down and force Boeckman to beat the Bayou Bengals with his arm.
Look out for: Blocking and tackling. These teams come from what might be the two most physical conferences in the country. This will be smashmouth football at its best.
Why LSU will win: SEC SPEEEEEEEED!!! Did you see Ohio State get pwned by the Florida Gators last year??? It's the same team!!! It's the same shortcoming!!! Or...it's not. While LSU might very well be the fastest team in the nation -- thanks to RB Jacob Hester, RB Trindon Holliday and backup QB Ryan Perrilloux -- the strength of LSU's two lines might be the key to this matchup, particularly on the defensive side. The Tigers might try to draw from Illinois, which managed to fluster Boeckman enough to make the normally solid quarterback melt down. If there's any team that can do that, it's LSU. Oh, and the game's in New Orleans, which is slighly closer to LSU than to Ohio State.
Why Ohio State will win: They have all year, riding Wells' legs and Boeckman's efficiency. The QB was 176-of-273 for 2,171 yards, 23 TDs and 12 INTs. The defense is also stout, holding opponents to just 10.7 points and 225.2 yards a game. Where LSU is flashy and bold in the coaching depart, Ohio State is like Tressel -- bland and well-rounded, a team that some hate precisely because they're so boring. And so good. SEC fans who think LSU can roll over the Buckeyes are probably in for a surprise.
The Garnet and Black Attack Endorsement: This is not necessarily whom I believe will win, it is whom I will be pulling for during the game.
Prediction: In this case, however, the endorsement and the prediction are the same. LSU will win this game, not easily but not in a tooth-and-nail battle, either. When healthy, LSU is the best team in the country. It is not any one player's overwhelming performance; it is simply the ability of so many parts to contribute when need be. The losses the Bayou Bengals suffered were unlucky bounces or momentary lapses at the end of marathon games. That doesn't happen here. LSU 31, Ohio State 17