9-6 in OT. That razor thin margin of victory is all that separates these two SEC behemoths. Back in November, LSU defeated Alabama at home 9-6 in a tough defensive slugfest, which many felt should have kept Alabama out of the title game. But fluke losses by Oklahoma State and Boise State combined with a strange, dysfunctional rankings system have landed us right back where we started in November: LSU vs. Alabama.
What makes this game so tough to call is that these teams are incredibly similar. Both play with a defensive mindset; using defensive pressure and intensity to dictate the pace of the game and viewing offense as a secondary element of the game. Alabama has running back Trent Richardson, the nation's most explosive running back, but the chances that he decides the game against the nation's best run defense are slim. Likewise, LSU's capable but hardly elite offense will struggle against Alabama's relentless defensive front.
The November game isn't much help either. The game went back and forth throughout - except no one could score any points. LSU won it on an interesting play call and a tough field goal in overtime. Can a 9-6 victory in overtime really be used to help call the title game?
Ultimately, this game will come down to two critical, albeit clich, factors: health and desire. Which team has its star players-particularly its star defenders-healthy and free of misconduct suspensions for the title game? Three years ago, Alabama lost several starters and got hammered in the Sugar Bowl, so clearly Nick Saban is aware of the possibility and keeping his players in check. The second factor will simply be desire: on that particular day, in that place, who wants it more?
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