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Alabama vs. LSU

BCS Championship

Pick with Analysis

1/9/12

LSU and Alabama will square of for all the marbles on Monday Night in the Superdome in a rematch of a regular season game in which LSU came out on top in a battle of field goals, 9-6. Alabama was a -5.5 point favorite in that one. This time around, the game opened LSU -1 and is now Alabama -2 at betonline. We'll talk more about the line in a minute.

So let's cut to the chase. Who's going to win? Well, if anyone out there tries to tell you they have the winner figured out based on this edge or that edge, or this strength or that weakness, they are simply blowing smoke. No such talent edge or weakness to exploit exits in this game. Of course, we already know that because they played once already and neither team could manage a touchdown.

These are the two best teams in college football and this is the matchup we would likely have if there was a playoff system in place. Oklahoma State would have been embarrassed by either of these two teams.

So if the game is a toss up to be decided by intangibles, a key fumble inside your own 20, a pick six, whatever, why are we backing LSU here? Well, we think there are enough small edges, and we mean REAL small, that when rolled up into one, create enough of a lean to favor LSU. That, and hey, let's face it, after a full season dedicated to handicapping and watching these teams, you develop a feel for the teams that leads to having an opinion one way or the other. So let's get to it.

Let's start with the mental aspect of the game. Quite a bit has been made about Alabama getting a shot at same season revenge. Stats have been rolled out that suggest teams that won the first time around, are up against it the 2nd time around. We say, toss those stats. In those examples being tossed about, how many of those games were for the national title? How many of those games were played in the home state of the team that lost the first game?

Oh, yeah, let's address this now, the "home field". LSU doesn't play in the Superdome, but let's not kid ourselves, they are the home team. Just a short ride from campus. Alabama will have tremendous support, but LSU will have some benefit as a result of this game being played close to home. LSU played in the Superdome in national championship games in 2004 and 2008. They won them both. Did playing in the Dome contribute to their success? You decide.

Back to the revenge angle. The game these two played earlier in the year, at Alabama, was a revenge game for Alabama after having lost to LSU the previous year, 24-21. They couldn't capitalize and get it done before 101,821 screaming maniacs in what is a decisive home field advantage. Now going on the road and playing LSU in a stadium where LSU will have the support is supposed to present a strong situation to gain some revenge?

This quote from LSU lineman Will Blackwell pretty much sums up the way we have been approaching this game as far as each teams mental state is concerned.....

“We’re kinda going into this game with a chip on our shoulder,” Blackwell said. “We went down to Tuscaloosa and won and they still get another shot. We don’t think that’s fair. If it had been the other way around we wouldn’t get a second chance. But it is what is I don’t have a vote. We just have to accept the challenge. I’m just glad the game is being played in New Orleans.”

LSU already BEAT Alabama on the road. Alabama had an extra edge in that game. A decisive one and they still came up short. What Blackwell said is exactly the way I would feel if I played for LSU. My attitude would be that we'll just beat them again and this time we'll leave no doubt. Seriously folks, how can you lose a home game and still be considered a national champ? As far as we're concerned, should Bama win, the title should be split by these two teams.

The statistical edges are going to be small if any in this matchup. However, one of our favorites, yards per point, favors LSU. Alabama's ypp numbers on the road are 11.6 on offense and 18 on defense for a +6.4 differential. LSU's road numbers are 9.4 and 26.1 a +16.7 differential. Wow. Also note LSU +21 in turnover margin, Alabama +6.

You could probably take any number of different stats and mold them to fit your argument for either side here. We simply feel there are enough small edges here favoring LSU to put them over the top. We think playing in New Orleans gives them a slight edge. We think LSU has the Psychological edge by way of having beaten Alabama in a very difficult spot where Bama had a decisive edge. Lastly. several stats we like to use, that tend to have more predictive value, favor LSU.

We like LSU here and wouldn't be surprised to see them leave no doubt by extending the margin in the 2nd half. We see that happen frequently in big games such as Super Bowls and playoff games. That momentum ball gets rolling and the next thing you know every single bounce starts going your way. The feeling here is that LSU is ALREADY the national champ by way of their undefeated season. The exclamation point gets put on the end of the sentence on Monday Night in the Superdome as the Tigers leave no doubt. LSU +2 or +3 with a full point buy see below

**** A note about the line here. We think LSU wins this game straight up. But with +2 now available as of this writing on Friday afternoon, we think you have to start to strongly consider buying a full point and taking LSU +3.

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