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Ohio State VS L-S-U

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  • Ohio State VS L-S-U

    Monday, January 7th, 8:20 p.m. (et)
    From The Sports Network
    By Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor

    GAME NOTES: The nation's top two teams have made their way to New Orleans, as the second-ranked LSU Tigers will battle the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the BCS Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome.

    The Buckeyes are in their second consecutive national title tilt and are hoping for a different result, as they were routed by the Florida Gators in last year's game, 41-14. Sweater Vest team put itself in a position to play for the championship again by going 11-1 this season and capturing the Big Ten title. OSU opened the season by winning its first 10 games, before suffering a 28-21 upset loss at the hands of Illinois. To the Buckeyes' credit, they responded from that setback by notching a 14-3 win over rival Michigan in the regular season finale and finished the year atop the BCS rankings. Ohio State is 18-20 in bowl games all- time and had won four straight before the loss to Florida last year, including earning a national championship with the memorable overtime win against Miami- Florida in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. LSU is no stranger to the spotlight, as the Tigers won the national title just a few years ago as well, topping Oklahoma (21-14) in the 2004 Sugar Bowl. LSU is making its eighth straight bowl appearance and is 19-18-1 in 38 previous bowl matchups. Les Miles' team has reached this point by winning the SEC with a 21-14 victory over Tennessee in the SEC Championship Game. In all, the Tigers went 11-2, with the two defeats coming against Kentucky (43-37 in 3OT) and Arkansas (50-48 in 3 OT). This is just the third all-time meeting between these two teams on the gridiron. OSU owns a 1-0-1 record against LSU, and the two teams last met in 1988 with the Buckeyes claiming a 36-33 victory in Columbus.

    The Tigers bring a potent offensive attack into this game, as the team is averaging 38.7 ppg (12th nationally), thanks in large part to 448.2 yards of total offense (20th nationally). It is the ground game that fuels the offense, ranking 11th in the country at 218.9 yards per game. In all, LSU scored a whopping 34 touchdowns on the ground, led by the rushing exploits of Jacob Hester. The 6-0, 228-pound senior eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau this season, amassing 1,017 yards and 11 TDs on the strength of 5.0 yards per carry. Just because the team likes to move the chains with the ground game, doesn't mean the Tigers shy away from the pass. On the contrary, senior QB Matt Flynn has the ability to make plays downfield. He completed just over 55 percent of his passes on the year, for 2,233 yards and 17 TDs. His job is made easier by a full stable of talented receivers. The marquee wideout is senior Early Doucet, who despite missing several games this year, still finished as the team's leading receiver with 50 receptions for 474 yards and four TDs. Brandon LaFell (48 receptions, 641 yards, three TDs) and Demetrius Byrd (33 receptions, 593 yards, seven TDs) provide two more reliable targets.

    The LSU defense is an aggressive unit, allowing a mere 283.9 yards per game (third nationally). The team was particularly hard on opposing passing games, limiting foes to just 180.8 yards through the air (10th nationally) and recording 21 interceptions. A lot of that has to do with a feverish pass rush that recorded 32 sacks. The defensive line is as good as it gets, with All- American tackle Glenn Dorsey serving as the centerpiece. The 6-2, 305-pound senior has certainly piled up the hardware this season, winning the Outland Trophy, the Lombardi Trophy, the Lott Trophy and the Nagurski Award, while being tabbed the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. A dominant force in the middle of the line, Dorsey finished third on the team in tackles (64) and second in both TFLs (11.5) and sacks (6.0). His presence in the middle allows senior DE Kirston Pittman to get free off the edge. Pittman racked up 61 tackles this year and led the team in TFLs (12.5) and sacks (7.0). Senior strong safety Craig Steltz was a First-Team All-SEC selection and had a huge season statistically as well. The ballhawk led the team in tackles (97) and in interceptions (6). Veteran leadership continues with two more All-SEC First- Teamers in senior CB Chevis Jackson (42 tackles, four INTs) and senior LB Ali Highsmith (93 tackles, 7.5 TFLs).

    The Buckeyes are a lot like the Tigers on offense, with a dominating ground game opening up the passing lanes. The team is churning out nearly 400 yards of offense per game, with almost perfect balance between the run (200.7 ypg) and the pass (196.4 ypg). First-Team All-Big Ten tailback Chris Wells is the engine which runs this unit. He rolled up 121.9 yards per game in 2007, averaging nearly six yards per carry (5.8) en route to 1,463 yards and 14 TDs. Junior QB Todd Boeckman had some huge shoes to fill taking over for Heisman winner Troy Smith and for the most part, Boeckman did the good job, earning All-Big Ten honors by completing 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,171 yards and 23 TDs. Being a run-first team, OSU didn't spread the wealth downfield that much. The team does possess a pair of top targets in WRs Brian Robiskie (50 receptions, 885 yards, 10 TDs) and Brian Hartline (46 receptions, 619 yards, five TDs), but no other receiver had more than 19 catches on the year. The offensive line was once again a force to be reckoned with, allowing just 14 sacks all season, while opening up huge holes in the ground game. The star up front is First-Team All-Big Ten tackle Kirk Barton (6-6, 300).

    Ohio State finished the regular season with the nation's top-rated defense. The Buckeyes were first in the country in scoring defense (10.7 ppg) and total defense (225.3 ypg) and third in rush defense (77.1 ypg). OSU has its own All- American superstar in the form of Butkus Award winner James Laurinaitis. The 6-3, 240-pound junior was also named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Buckeyes in tackles (103), with 8.5 TFLs, 5.0 sacks, two INTs and one fumble recovery. Joining Laurinaitis in the middle is senior LB Larry Grant (43 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 5.0 sacks, one INT). Up front the troops are led by All-Big Ten end Vernon Gholston, who led the Buckeyes in TFLs (14.5 ) and sacks (13.0). The secondary is strong as well, highlighted by the play of All- Big Ten First-Team CB Malcolm Jenkins (44 tackles, 5.0 TFLs, three INTs). The 6-1, 208-pound senior is regarded as one of the top shutdown corners in the nation.

    These two teams are very similar in their approach to the game. Both will try to establish the run, but will come up against strong defensive fronts. The weapons downfield for LSU may be the difference in this one. If Flynn is able to get into a rhythm early, the Tigers will prevent OSU from winning the national title yet again.

    Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 27, Ohio State 20
    :logo: :logo: :logo: :logo: :logo:

  • #2
    Imo, LSU doesn't really deserve to be there, but whatever. I think they win the NC.


    • #3
      If I had to bet money I would pick LSU over Ohio.

      But I am not so yiiiiipiiiiie!