All Comes Down To This

By Adam Caparell - January 06, 2008

Few, if any, would have picked Ohio State to be playing for the BCS Championship after losing so much talent from last year's national runner-up squad. But lo and behold the Buckeyes, thanks to some good fortune, find themselves playing in their third BCS Championship Game in six years. And with the memory of their drubbing at the hands of Florida still fresh on so many minds, Ohio State faces an SEC team with speed, power and strength - just like the Gators. So with that in mind how does Ohio State matchup with LSU and will the Buckeyes prove their many doubters wrong this time out?

Quaterbacks: Just like Todd Boeckman, this was Matt Flynn's first full year as a starter so both of these QBs don't bring in ton of experience to the table. Flynn has been inconsistent throughout the year and isn't exactly the most accurate passer around. Boeckman, on the other hand will need to get rid of the ball quickly against the LSU pass rush, but can hit on the long ball. We'll definitely see LSU backup Ryan Perrilloux for a number of snaps, most likely to run the spread option. The question is how much, if any, will we see of Boeckman's backup, Antonio Henton? Edge: LSU

Running Backs: Chris Wells showed he was one of the best runners in the country this year, rushing for over 1,400 yards on the season and carrying the Ohio State offense down the stretch. Ohio State needs him to rack up some yards to keep the LSU front seven honest and give Boeckman more time to operate. LSU's Jacob Hester wants to run it right down your throat. Keiland Williams and Trindon Holliday bring different skill sets to the table - i.e. big play ability. Edge: Ohio State

Wide Receivers: Early Doucet and Brandon LaFell are threats out wide, but the same can be said for Brian Robiskie of Ohio State. Boeckman's favorite target deep was Robiskie, but the two didn't connect as much as the season wore on. Both groups are talented and capable, but the Tigers duo might have a little more speed. And can't forget about Demetrius Byrd. Edge: LSU

Offensive Line: Ohio State has three starters from last year's team anchoring the line that opened plenty of holes for Wells and allowed Boeckman to finish among the top 15 in passing efficiency. They protected their quarterback very well, but face a huge challenge in blocking Glenn Dorsey and company. LSU, on the other hand, can open holes and anchored a unit that finished 11th in rushing offense. They have, though, let up more sacks than you'd like to see (2-plus per game). Neither of these two units, however, will have it easy blocking the other's front seven. Edge: Ohio State

Defensive Line: LSU has Dorsey. Ohio State has Vernon Gholston. LSU can be run on (Arkansas, anybody?), but they faced much stiffer competition over the course of the season than Ohio State. Dorsey's the best defensive player in the country - going by the number of awards he won - and he's got more talent surrounding him than Gholston does. But it's not like the rest of the Buckeyes are a bunch of scrubs. Edge: LSU

Linebackers: James Laurinaitis is unquestionably one of the top linebackers in the country and guy who seems to find himself in on every play. Ali Highsmith's a pretty good one for LSU, but Laurinaitis and company have been instrumental in helping the Buckeyes finish as the third best defense in the nation against the run. Edge: Ohio State

Secondary: The group of Craig Steltz, Jonathan Zennon and Chevis Jackson are as good as it gets. They're a veteran group and Steltz will be vital to helping against the run. Boeckman has to be careful. Malcolm Jenkins is Ohio State's best cover man for a group that played well against the pass, but hasn't faced a receiving corps as deep and speedy as LSU's. Edge: LSU

Special Teams: LSU Colt David's a pretty reliable kicker with a big leg. Ohio State's Ryan Pretorius isn't too bad himself. Holliday's speed could be something to watch out for on kick returns. Edge: LSU

Coaches: Jim Tressel is Mr. Conservative - according to him, the most important play in football is the punt - while Les Miles has shown a penchant for taking chances. Tressel's been in more big games than Miles and seems to have made some changes since last year's debacle in the title game. We know Miles isn't going anywhere so the distraction that could have been surrounding him leaving for Michigan never affected the Tigers, but Bo Pelini's off to Nebraska right after the game. How much will that affect the defense? Edge: Ohio State

The Line: -3.5 LSU
O/U: 48

If I Were A Betting Man: LSU and the over. The way LSU loses this game is if it beats itself meaning Matt Flynn throws a few interceptions and inopportune penalties kill the Tigers. Don't rule out a wild and crazy coaching move from Les Miles. He's a gambling man and he's not going to hold back in the last game of the season. Perrilloux is the obvious X-factor in the game. Ohio State had problems against a running quarterback in Juice Williams. LSU has to stop Wells. They do that and become the first two-time BCS Champion. Interesting to note that the line opened at 8 and has come down 5.5 points so clearly there is no shortage of people who like the Buckeyes.

Bowl Season: 11-20 ATS | 18-12-1 O/U

Posted by Adam Caparell at 06:09 PM on January 06, 2008

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