LSU survives in overtime, has inside track to national title game

Louisiana State University quarterback Jordan Jefferson (L) crack up with teammate center back Tyrann Mathieu after beating the University of Kentucky at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana October 1, 2011. Jefferson was just released from suspension by LSU this week. REUTERS/Dan Anderson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Defense and kickers, that’s what might have just decided the national championship. LSU survived a 9-6 overtime slugfest tonight against Alabama in a matchup of the top two teams in the country.

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but that doesn’t mean it was bad football. Quite the contrary, actually. These are two defenses unlike many we’ve seen in college football, and that’s fun to watch. They’re big, they’re fast and they’re physical. And let’s remember, when these two teams aren’t playing each other, the offenses do just fine.

The key in this one wound up being Alabama’s ineptitude in overtime, as the Tide went backwards and were forced to try a 52-yard field goal, which missed, um, poorly. LSU merely had to run the ball and set up a field goal on its possession, and it did, kicking a 25-yard game winner from the center of the field.

But A.J. McCarron struggled all game long, and Nick Saban showed late the lack of confidence he had in his quarterback by not calling a timeout with a little less than 2 minutes left and LSU set to punt it away. A coach that’s confident in his quarterback and offense calls that timeout and gives them a chance to drive for a game-winning field goal. Saban sat on his timeout and played for overtime.

Now, unless there aren’t any unbeaten teams remaining, there’s no chance we get a rematch here, nor should we. While I feel these are the country’s two top teams, they’re certainly not unbeatable, not with those quarterbacks. If either team runs into a situation where its defense is struggling against a good team, it’s in a lot of trouble. Do you trust McCarron, Jarrett Lee or Jordan Jefferson to bring a team back at the end of a game? I don’t.

That said, would you bet on either defense failing? I wouldn’t.

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Rueben Randle helps LSU torch Auburn

Louisiana State University wide receiver Rueben Randle (2) runs into the end zone while scoring on a touchdown pass against Auburn University during their NCAA football game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana October 22, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Watch Rueben run. That’s basically what the Auburn defense did best today, as Rueben Randle caught 5 passes for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns in top-ranked LSU’s 45-10 thrashing of Auburn. Randle caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Lee and a 42-yard scoring pass from Jordan Jefferson.

LSU has had mini-scandals all season with players getting suspended for games, but the Tigers keep brushing off these distractions. For this game against Auburn, LSU was without stud corner Tyrann Mathieu, leading rusher Spencer Ware and defensive back Tharold Simon. The defense didn’t miss a beat as they held Auburn to only ten points.

Now LSU gets a bye week next week and then they’ll face Alabama for one of the biggest games of the year on November 5th.

Who needs offense? LSU crushes Oregon

Louisiana State University head coach Les Miles (R) talks with field judge Ed Kierce during the second half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl football game in Arlington, Texas January 7, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

LSU may have come into tonight’s game with Oregon missing its starting quarterback and wide receiver because of suspensions, but that didn’t matter. The LSU defense and special teams were more than enough in LSU’s 40-27 win.

It’s a real nice victory for LSU and the SEC (again). It’s a tough loss for Oregon, which is about to get the Ohio State label draped on it when it comes to big games. The Ducks, as it turns out, aren’t that difficult to defend if you have some time to prepare for them.

In their last three big-time nonconference games — Ohio State, Auburn and LSU — the Ducks offense hasn’t been anywhere near the explosive unit that it is during the season. People that are smarter than I am on Twitter claim it’s because what Oregon does is actually pretty simple, and when you have the athletes to match up with it, all you have to do is play assignment football.

That being said, shutting down Oregon is quite an accomplishment, and LSU’s defense won’t face many offenses that are more explosive. They’ll face different and more balanced offenses (Darron Thomas is woefully inadequate in the passing game), but not many that can do what the Ducks can.

It plays in the SEC West, so LSU has a hell of a lot of work to do in order to play for the title this year, but this was a huge hurdle, especially considering the suspensions. It was an even bigger hurdle for the SEC, which may have just guaranteed itself a spot in the title game again.

Fade Material: College Football Week 1 Predictions

Oregon Ducks LaMichael James laughs after drawing a personal foul on the Auburn Tigers in the third quarter in the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in Glendale, Arizona, January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

I woke up today with an extra spring in my step because I knew it was the first Saturday of the 2011 college football season. But what really got me going was knowing I would once again be providing quality fade material for bettors around the world.

It’s about people helping people, folks.

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 LSU, 8:00PM ET
The last time Jarrett Lee opened a season as a starting quarterback was in 2006…for Brenham High School. LSU was going to have uncertainty at the quarterback position regardless of whether or not Lee or Jordan Jefferson was named the starter. But where the problem comes in is that Jefferson was assumed to be the starter for months. Now, just weeks before the season, they switch to Lee because of Jefferson’s off-field issues. It’s usually unwise to go against the SEC in a non-conference game but I’m not that bright so I’ll assume the risk. I think LSU’s outstanding defense will tire late in the second half after trying to keep up with Darron Thomas and LaMichael James for most of the game. The Tigers’ D figures to be on the field an awful lot tonight.

No. 7 Boise State vs. No. 22 Georgia
All the talk in this one has revolved around Aaron Murray but I expect Kellen Moore to once again play mistake free. He has all new weapons this year but the Broncos’ offense rarely misses a beat from season to season. Never go against Boise State in their opener or in their bowl game. These types of games might as well be their freaking Super Bowl…

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2010 College Football Week 13 Odds

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 20: Quarterback Jordan Jefferson  of the Louisiana State University Tigers reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Ole Miss Rebels at Tiger Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

No. 21 Arizona @ No. 1 Oregon, 7:00PM ET, Friday
The Ducks have come a long way but they still have two daunting tasks left in order to reach the BCS title game. The first test comes this Friday against Arizona, which leads the Pac-10 at 300.6 yards per game offensively. Nick Foles is completing a conference-high 71.0 percent of his passes and has thrown for over 600 yards with four touchdowns and just one interception in his last two games. That said, the Wildcats gave up a whopping 426 rushing yards in consecutive losses the last two weeks and are now in danger of slipping out of the top 25. Can they pull off an upset this week or is Oregon set to wrap up a second-straight Pac-10 title?

No. 5 LSU @ No. 12 Arkansas, 3:30PM ET, Saturday
The Tigers are looking to claim their sixth 11-win season in school history this week, but they face a daunting task in Arkansas this Saturday. The previous five meetings between these two teams have been decided by a total of 13 points and two of the previous three outings went into overtime. LSU has limited opponents to 286.9 yards per game, which is best in the SEC. But it was their offense that earned them a wild win over Ole Miss last weekend, as quarterback Jordan Jefferson threw for a career-high 254 yards and a touchdown both through the air and on the ground. The Hogs needed overtime to beat a pesky Mississippi State team and will need a better effort out of Ryan Mallett this year against the Tigers than in 2009. He threw for just 227 yards and an interception in a 33-30 overtime loss in Baton Rouge last year.

No. 13 Oklahoma vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State
Usually when these two teams meet at this time of year, it’s Oklahoma playing for an opportunity to head to the Big 12 championship. But this season, it’s the Cowboys turn to play in a conference title game for the first time in school history. The Sooners have absolutely dominated the Bedlam series over the years, winning 80 of the 104 games between these two programs. But the Cowboys have a one-game lead in the Big 12 South standings and they won’t go down easy at home. This is only the fourth time in series history that OK State has been the higher ranked team. Can Brandon Weeden and company get one more win in order to play for a conference championship next weekend?

Michigan vs. No. 8 Ohio State, 12:00PM ET, Saturday
This is a nasty matchup for the Wolverines, who were absolutely hammered by a Wisconsin team last Saturday that has a lot of similarities to Ohio State. Both teams like to line up and play smash-mouth football, while Michigan prefers to win games with speed. Denard Robinson could have a hard time moving the ball against a stout Buckeye front seven. With a win, Ohio State would likely earn a BCS bowl berth (either a return trip to the Rose Bowl, should Wisconsin lose to Northwestern at home, or an at-large bid to the Sugar or Orange bowls). But they know the Wolverines won’t lay down without a fight and Michigan would love nothing more than to ruin the Buckeyes season when they have nothing to play for outside of pride.

College Football Top 25 Odds & Over/Under Totals:

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