Commentary

LSU-Alabama worth a second look

Originally Published: January 3, 2012
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

Nothing against the Granddaddy of Them All, or the Runners-Up Bowl (No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 4 Stanford in the Tostitos Fiesta), or Tuesday night's Boise State-Got-Hosed Allstate Sugar Bowl, but they're football finger food, nothing else.

[+] EnlargeSpencer Ware
AP Photo/Dave MartinTough defense was the norm in the first game between LSU and Alabama, won by the Tigers 9-6.

Same goes for Wednesday's Discover Orange Bowl (has West Virginia sold any tickets yet?), Friday's Bill Snyder Bowl (the Cotton), Saturday's BBVA Compass Bowl between SMU and Pitt (that's when one-and-done coach Todd Graham will text his former Panthers players from poolside in Tempe), and Sunday's GoDaddy.com Bowl, where Arkansas State and Northern Illinois will battle Danica Patrick for attention.

Be honest: If bowl season were like going to a movie, Monday evening's Allstate BCS National Championship Game would be the megahit "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" and the other 34 games would be the reminder to turn off your cell phones.

Only one game actually means anything anymore, and that's No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama. The rest of it is fun. It's a great way to kill time between Dec. 17 and Jan. 8. It's confidence pool heaven.

But none of those other 34 bowls gives you a national title when you're done. You get trophies and watches, but you don't get a lasting legacy and national championship rings, do you?

Big-boy football commences Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Oklahoma State isn't going to like to hear that, but that's what happens when you get outvoted 2-1 in the BCS equation. The computers loved the Cowboys, but the coaches and the Harris poll voters didn't (Air Force's Troy Calhoun voted OSU fifth! Think the Cowboys were rooting for Toledo against the Zoomies in last week's Military Bowl?).

Anyway, it doesn't matter now. LSU and Bama are where they belong: in New Orleans, in a rematch and in the title game.

I wouldn't have said that the night of Nov. 5, after Bama lost at home to the top-ranked Tigers 9-6. But then undefeated Boise and Stanford were beaten the next week, followed six days later by an OSU upset at Iowa State.

So here we are, beginning the countdown to a rematch that has been both praised and ridiculed. The Crimson Tide obviously wanted another chance at No. 1 LSU. But here's the cool part: LSU wanted the rematch, too.

In the Tigers' minds, Bama is the second-best team in the country. Plus, they want to stick a very large purple-and-gold pompom in the mouth of every Crimson Tide player and fan who thinks LSU lucked out in the Nov. 5 win.

I can tell you what this game will be and what it won't be.

It won't be the Valero Alamo Bowl, where Baylor beat U-Dub 67-56 and the defenses were still down at the Riverwalk drinking margaritas. At one point, I thought ESPN analyst and former Ohio State All-America linebacker Chris Spielman was going to leave the booth and teach the Bears and Huskies how to form tackle.

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireAlabama running back Trent Richardson, the Doak Walker Award winner, will be on display against LSU in the BCS title game.

I guarantee you that LSU-Bama won't be a 123-point game. Maybe not even 23.

It definitely won't be a rout, like Boise State's 56-24 win against Arizona State in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl. LSU gave up a combined 55 points in its last six games. Bama gave up a combined 57 in its last five games.

In other words, Spielman is going to love this one.

It won't be cute. There will be no stuffed animals on the sideline, like the toy monkey with the No. 63 jersey Northwestern's players brought to the Meineke Car Care Bowl. That's how many years it's been since NU won a bowl game.

Ooops, make it 64. The Wildcats lost to Texas A&M.

LSU-Bama won't feature the Heisman Trophy winner (Baylor's Robert Griffin III), the presumed No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft (Stanford's Andrew Luck) or the team with the No. 1 (so far) incoming recruiting class (that would be Texas).

And I absolutely promise you that Alabama isn't going to ditch its classic unis for some fashion-designer-gone-mad experiment.

No, this is going to be old-school football. This is going to be a game that people will watch even though they swore they wouldn't.

Remember the anti-rematch faction? Those folks won't be able to resist when kickoff arrives. The anti-SEC movement also will weaken when Brent and Kirk clear their throats.

Sure, there's no RG3 or NFL quarterback prospect for the ages, but there is the Home Depot Coach of the Year (The Mad Hatter himself, LSU's Les Miles), the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year (LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis), the Jim Thorpe Award winner (LSU's Morris Claiborne), the Chuck Bednarik Award winner (LSU's Tyrann Mathieu), the Outland Trophy winner (Bama's Barrett Jones) and the Doak Walker Award winner (Bama's Trent Richardson). And by the way, the average ticket price on the secondary market is now north of $1,000 -- and climbing.

And who cares that LSU and Bama come not only from the same conference but from the same division? Also, since when can't rematches be compelling? The first game was a snore zone. This one could have an actual touchdown.

Monday's game is why they played all the other games in the regular season. It's why we micro-debated every facet of the BCS standings each week. It's why Bama's Nick Saban lobbied so hard to be here, and why LSU wanted the Tide here.

With semi-apologies to the other 68 postseason teams, you were the appetizers. The entree will soon be served. I can't wait to dig in.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter