10 reasons Ohio State will win BCS title
by Pete Fiutak
For more previews, predictions and prognostications, go to CollegeFootballNews.com.
Updated: January 6, 2008, 4:03 PM EST 1103 comments RSS digg blog email print Does anyone, anywhere outside of Columbus actually believe Ohio State is going to beat LSU and win the national title? Dennis Kucinich is being given more of a shot at being the next president than the Buckeyes are of being the next national champion.
OSU's defense prepares for LSU
Hear from Jim Heacock and his Buckeyes defensive unit as they look for redemption against the SEC after their embarrassing loss in last year's title game.
LSU offense hopes for explosion
Here are 10 reasons why The Ohio State University will win the BCS Championship. (Relax Tiger fans, here's the 10 reasons LSU will win.)
10. 2006 Florida Gators, 2005 Texas Longhorns, 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes
Three of the past five national champions were given next to no shot whatsoever to win the title beforehand. This was partly because those three teams were really good yet were able to play the disrespect card. The 2006 Buckeyes, 2005 Trojans and 2002 Hurricanes were being considered among the greatest teams of all-time, and while the Tigers are only a five-point favorite, playing in the Superdome, almost no one is coming out and picking against them. Teams in the big show tend to play better when the pressure, for the most part, is off.
Les Miles isn't Urban Meyer. For all the wins and all the good things he's done since taking over as the Tigers head man, Miles isn't considered a high-brow X-and-O guy as much as he's considered a great motivator and gutty game manager.
Jim Tressel's reputation might have suffered a hit after the Florida loss, but he's still an amazing 73-15 (83 percent) with four straight bowl wins before the 2007 BCS Championship debacle. This is a big-game head coach with a big-game staff who's been in the biggest of the big game spotlights for several years.
Miles came through strong in his first BCS game appearance with the 41-14 Sugar Bowl win over Notre Dame, but this is the national championship and his defensive coordinator, Bo Pelini, has his head already half-focused on the Nebraska job.
Kansas' Mark Mangino
BCS Championship: LSU vs. OSU
Rose Bowl: USC 49, Illinois 17
Fiesta Bowl: WVU 48, Oklahoma 28
Orange Bowl: Kansas 24, Va. Tech 21
Sugar Bowl: Georgia 41, Hawaii 10
Poinsettia Bowl: Utah 35, Navy 32
New Orleans Bowl: FAU 44, Memphis 27
Papa Johns.com Bowl: Cin. 31, USM 21
New Mexico Bowl: UNM 23, Nevada 0
Las Vegas Bowl: BYU 17, UCLA 16
Hawaii Bowl: E. Carolina 41, Boise St. 38
Motor City Bowl: Purdue 51, CMU 48
Holiday Bowl: Texas 52, ASU 34
Champs Sports Bowl: BC 24, MSU 21
Texas Bowl: TCU 20, Houston 13
Emerald Bowl: Ore. St. 21, Maryland 14
Meineke Bowl: Wake 24, Uconn 10
Liberty Bowl: Miss. St. 10, UCF 3
Alamo Bowl: Penn St. 24, Texas A&M 17
Independence Bowl: 'Bama 30, Colo. 24
Armed Forces Bowl: Cal 42, Air Force 36
Sun Bowl: Oregon 56, USF 21
Humanitarian Bowl: Fresno St. 40, GT 28
Music City Bowl: Kentucky 35, FSU 28
Insight Bowl: Okla. St. 49, Indiana 33
Chick-fil-A Bowl: Aub. 23, Clem. 20 OT
Outback Bowl: Tenn. 21, Wisconsin 17
Cotton Bowl: Mizzou 38, Arkansas 7
Gator Bowl: Texas Tech 31, UVA 28
Capital One Bowl: Mich. 41 vs. Florida 35
International Bowl: Rutgers 52, BSU 30
GMAC Bowl: Tulsa 63, Bowling Green 7
Best of 2007
8. The nation's No. 1 defense is ...
Yeah, It's Ohio State. Dog the Big Ten all you want, but the conference has some solid offenses with six ranking in the top 50, and while there aren't any high-octane killers, Michigan and Wisconsin have tremendous rushing attacks that were held in check by the Buckeye D, Northwestern's 11th-ranked passing offense was held to 120 yards, no one threw for more than 269, and only Illinois ran for more than 161.
OSU gave up four surprising touchdown passes to Juice Williams and the Illini, along with a soul-crushing fourth quarter march, and that was about it. As good as the overall stats are, they're actually even better considering the offense gave up some scores, including two to Michigan State.
7. Yes, Ohio State can run with LSU, and any other team in the SEC
You don't get 59 players drafted in seven years without having a ton of speed and athleticism flowing through the program. Despite how things looked against Florida, that Ohio State team could run with anyone, and this one certainly has the overall team speed to stay with LSU. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean the Buckeyes will play fast, but if it's a question of running, no one other than Trindon Holliday will run past this group.
6. The OSU offensive line
If it's not the best in the game, it's a close second behind the Oklahoma line. It hasn't faced a defensive front like LSU's, but tackles Alex Boone and Kirk Barton are each Outland caliber talents who'll be stalwarts on NFL lines for several years to come, Steve Rehring is a solid left guard, and Jim Cordle is coming into his own at center. The front five has allowed a mere 14 sacks on the year and just 100 tackles for loss. LSU is way too good up front to get shoved around too often, but the Buckeye front five will win its share of battles.
5. The OSU defensive front should be able to get into the backfield
The LSU O-line is strong when it comes to powering the ball, but it struggles at consistently protecting the passer. All year long, teams have been able to get to the Tiger quarterbacks, and OSU should be able to pin its ears back and get at least four sacks. Vernon Gholston can get past any tackle in America.
4. LSU's defense might not be quite as good as advertised
The talent is breathtaking. Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson have Pro Bowl tools. Craig Steltz was probably the best defensive back in the country, Ali Highsmith might have been the best linebacker in the SEC, and Chevis Jackson is one of the nation's premier cover-corners. And there's more NFL talent where that came from.
So why did the Tigers struggle so much when pressed? Darren McFadden might be a transcendent talent and Andre Woodson might be a first-round draft pick, but a defense as good as LSU's shouldn't have allowed 50 points to Arkansas and 43 to Kentucky, even if both games went to three overtimes. The Tigers D wasn't nearly as dominant as it should've been over the second half of the season, but that's because of ...
The time off will help LSU as much as any team in the bowl season, but there's still a variety of bumps and bruises to get over. For a team that went through a tumultuous season, and with all the coaching drama, DT Glenn Dorsey's knee, LB Darry Beckwith's ankle, QB Matt Flynn's shoulder, QB Ryan Perrilloux's finger, and a variety of other issues could contribute to next month being as much about healing as it is about preparing.
2. It's not like LSU has been all-timer special since September
Injuries can only be partly to blame for LSU not blowing teams out over the second half of the season. The standards might be a little high considering the Tigers won the SEC title and is in the national title game, but a team this talented probably shouldn't have struggled so much with Alabama and Ole Miss, and it shouldn't have lost to Kentucky and Arkansas. It took a miraculous play to beat Auburn, a trick play to get by South Carolina earlier in the year, and four wins came by a touchdown or less.
If the LSU that showed up at the beginning of the year against Mississippi State and Virginia Tech is in the Superdome, it's uh-oh time for the Buckeyes. If the LSU that showed up over the last two months of the season gets off the bus, this could be a classic.
1. Florida 41 ... Ohio State 14
Talk about motivation, how sick is Ohio State of hearing about the clunker in Glendale? Florida might have come into last year's national championship with a great game-plan and a mega-chip on its shoulder, but the Buckeyes also came into it off the banquet circuit and figuring the game was a mere formality. Ohio State didn't get to be Ohio State by not being able to adapt and adjust. This was the nation's No. 1 team for a good portion of the season, and technically, it's in the top spot right now. The team really is that good.