Big Fun on the Bayou

Big Fun on the Bayou
BCS Championship Game

New Orleans Jan. 7, 2008
8:00 ET Fox
Ohio State vs. LSU

Where ya at Les Miles?

Contrary to what many believed for much of the season, the LSU coach is rolling on the river in New Orleans rather than heading home to become the main Michigan Man. Miles had plenty of reasons to stay in Cajun country, chief among them the national championship his Bengal Tigers (11-2) can claim by beating Ohio State (11-1) in the title game.

Where ya at Jim Tressel?

A year ago, the Ohio State coach brought his ballyhooed band of Buckeyes to the national title game and got bushwhacked and bullied 41-17 by the Florida Gators. Could another SEC champion do the same in this BCS championship?

Here are four factors likely to determine the (mythical) national champion.

1. Coaching: Last season Tressel and OSU were outclassed by Urban Meyer and the Gators. Don’t expect that to happen again. The Big Ten has been widely disparaged, leading many to doubt whether State should be in the big game. That underdog role will play well with Tressel. Miles catches flak for occasionally wacky decisions he pulls out from under his hat, but he has had bowl success at LSU. The Tigers crushed Miami in the Peach Bowl two years ago and Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl last January.

2. The Job Factor: Son of a gun, Miles is staying at LSU, but Tiger fans could not truly have big fun until Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia. Another coaching hire is now the cause for concern. LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pellini has accepted the Nebraska position, but will coach in the title game. If Pellini is distracted in preparation or game day calls, the Tigers will suffer (and the track record for coaches splitting duties is not good).

3. Layoff: LSU gains the most from the down time. By the end of the season, the gruesome SEC gantlet had taken a toll on the bayou Bengals; they should be healed and ready by January 7. Ohio State had no comparable injury concerns, but the 51 day layoff since the regular season finale mirrors the down time from a year ago and we know how that turned out for the Buckeyes.

4. Home Cooking: We are not talking about that great Louisiana cuisine. Instead, consider this “neutral” site to be a little less neutral than others. Buckeye boosters travel as well as any school, but count on the Superdome to be filled at least 60-40 in favor of the purple and gold, with about a 90-10 noise advantage if the Tigers leap to a fast start.

Summary:

This game should not be a blowout. Buckeye pride in atoning for the Florida debacle will play a role, and the Big Ten champs are faster and more athletic on defense than they were a year ago.

Still, LSU will be healthy, energized playing for another title in front of their rowdy fans, and – most importantly – has better players.

Players win games.

LSU players will win a championship.

Professor’s Pick: LSU

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