TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- I suppose if we’re throwing around words loosely, we can dub last night’s LSU-Alabama game a “classic.” It was a very good game – not great – but very good. (I think at least one touchdown needs to be scored for it to be a great game, no?)
The nation saw two of the best teams in the country last night, with LSU outkicking Alabama, 9-6, in overtime. I’m all about defensive struggles because that makes each play that much more intense. Take a 1-0 pithers duel in baseball for instance. Every pitch is critical; every baserunner is crucial; every hit is... you get the idea. I love hard-nosed, smash-mouth football. The game had both of those on the defensive front, but the by giving both Alabama and LSU's defense so much credit we're ignoring the obvious: Neither team has a national championshp offense. Or, at the very least, neither team showed the possibility of having a No.1-team-in-the-land offense in a game watched by millions.
Put it this way: If last night’s game was (and this is hypothetical) No. 1 Nebraska at No. 2 Michigan State and it ended 9-6 in overtime, the Big Ten’s heavyweights would be dubbed frauds and people not only wouldn’t be clamoring for a rematch, but people would be arguing that the winner wouldn’t be deserving of a spot in the BCS Title Game.
By all accounts, LSU has proven to be the best team – as of November 5<sup>th</sup> – in all of college football. The neutral-site game against Oregon looks bigger and bigger each week; playing at West Virginia doesn’t look as tough as it once did, but it’s still an SEC heavyweight playing a preseason Big East favorite in a hostile road environment. And, last night, LSU silenced a crowd of 100,000 fans who were so boisterous before the game many in attendance said it was the loudest college football crowd they had ever experienced.
Despite Alabama's greatness, there is no proof the Crimson Tide are the country’s No. 2 team. Heck, Oregon put up 27 points on that LSU defense. Alabama might very well finish the season 11-1, which will secure it a spot in some BCS bowl. But at this point, anyone singing R-E-M-A-T-C-H needs to calm down and look at reality here. There are still four undefeated teams who all have a better argument for playing in the title game. Obviously, LSU is the leader in the clubhouse. Oklahoma State, despite not having a defense, is electric offensively, has quality wins and is steamrolling through the Big 12. Stanford hasn’t played a rough schedule but has proven it will dominate whatever team stands on the opposite side of the field. Last but not least is Boise State. While past performance is meaningless, no one can argue that Boise State doesn’t deserve a title shot if it is one of the only two undefeated teams in the country. The Broncos have begged for games against great teams. The only teams who’ve agreed in recent years are Virginia Tech and Georgia. Boise State has won all of those games. Boise State tried to schedule a game or series with Michigan. Big Blue turned it down. There are dozens of other “big time” programs who have said the same thing. (I’m willing to bet, despite its reputation for taking on all comers, that LSU is one of those programs). So Boise State does what it always does: Beat the teams on its schedule handedly and hope the computers and voters sort things out correctly.
Flash back to 2006 when No. 1 Ohio State hosted No. 2 Michigan. Both teams were 11-0 and, in the regular season finale, the winner was guaranteed a spot in the BCS Title Game. The Buckeyes won, 42-39, in another “Game of the Century.” Immediately, people, especially those in Big Ten country, picketed for a title game rematch. Florida, who at the time had 1 loss and had the SEC Title Game to play, begged the voters to give another team a shot. The Gators won the SEC, got a shot, and obliterated the Buckeyes, 41-14.
Funny how, five years later, the same SEC fans that begged for another team (Florida) to get a shot is trying to get behind a rematch. But that’s the SEC mentality: We have the country’s best 12 teams; just deal with it.
The last handful of weeks are bound to make the BCS race much more chaotic, but one thing is certain: Another team deserves a shot; just deal with it.