It’s finally here.
Exactly 36 days after the the matchup was officially set, and 65 days after the first meeting, LSU and Alabama will take to the Superdome field and decide which SEC team will hoist the crystal football for the sixth consecutive season.
The name of the game was defense the first time around, with the November overtime affair resulting in five field goals and zero touchdowns — and a win for the Tigers on the Tide’s home turf. With the two teams finishing the season one-two in scoring defense and total defense, the respective offenses will likely serve as nothing more than a subplot once again tonight in New Orleans. Maybe.
So, with kick-off mere hours away, we decided to poll the CFT staff (insert Beavis/Butthead laugh at your leisure) as well as an esteemed NBCSports.com editor to get their quick-hit thoughts on the game as well as their predictions. Additionally, you can have your collective voices heard by voting in the poll below and banging out an opinion in the comments sections below that.
Before that, however…
George Malone, NBCSports.com editor dude — Yes, LSU is undefeated, and yes, it’s a home game for the Tigers. But the Crimson Tide still is the better team, talent-wise. Alabama should have won the first meeting between these two, and Nick Saban will have made enough adjustments to get the Tide its second title in three seasons.
PREDICTION: Alabama 20, LSU 13
John Tamanaha, CFT contributor and handicapper extraordinaire — The last time the mythical national championship was decided by a rematch was following the 1996 season when Florida avenged a 24-21 regular-season loss with a resounding 52-20 victory in the Bowl Alliance’s No. 1 vs. No. 3 pairing in the Sugar Bowl. Steve Spurrier’s Gators had the psychological advantage of seeking revenge back then, now it’s Nick Saban’s turn to flip the script on one of his former programs. The anti-rematch movement likes to say it doesn’t want to see another 9-6 game. They won’t. We’ll have three touchdowns this time.
PREDICTION: Alabama 17, LSU 16
Ben, CFT writer and two-time Olympic curling champion — Yes, there will be field goals. There will also be touchdowns, unlike last game’s 9-6 kicking festival that featured a love-hate relationship with all things special teams. When the first showdown between the two finally came, I picked LSU to win and couldn’t have been more confident. The Tigers had accomplished too much too easily to be phased by a road game in Tuscaloosa. This time around, I’m less secure, even as the game is practically being played in LSU’s backyard. It’s just tough to beat the same team twice, especially given how well these two know each other. The Tide moved the ball well enough on the Tigers back on Nov. 5; they just couldn’t convert it into points. I expect Trent Richardson to have a big game tonight, but I’ve gone with LSU all season. Why change now? Les Miles finds a way to win – again.
PREDICTION: LSU 20, Alabama 13
JT, CFT’s resident Nostradumbus — Back in mid-December, I predicted a Tide win, “if for nothing more than to validate my preseason selection of Nick Saban‘s bunch as the top team in the country.” Three weeks or so later, nothing has transpired that would make me sway from that prediction. On paper and top to bottom, you could very easily make the argument that the Tigers will put the most talent on the field. My gut, though, tells me Saban gets that Miles monkey off his back. And possibly prompts the voters from the Associated Press to “split” the national title by giving their version of No. 1 to LSU based on the Tigers’ overall body of work, thus creating an offseason of debate over who’s really the best team in the country. Playoffs? We don’t need no stinkin’ playoffs.
PREDICTION: Alabama 24, LSU 20