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The Early Lead
Posted at 03:57 PM ET, 01/09/2012

BCS national championship: What to watch with Alabama

For the other side of the coin, here’s what to watch with LSU.

The last time Alabama and LSU played, in the Game of the Century back in November, the Tigers were 9-6 winners in overtime. Can Alabama reverse the tide tonight and beat LSU in the BCS national title game tonight? Here are five things to watch with Bama:

The quarterback, silly. Last time out, A.J. McCarron threw an interception that allowed LSU to tie the score at 6-6 in the third quarter. If LSU’s plan is to try to take away running back Trent Richardson, that puts more pressure on McCarron to measure up. He passed for 2,400 yards and 16 touchdowns in his first season as starter. Against LSU the last time, he passed for 199 yards..

The aforementioned Richardson. He was in the Heisman Trophy conversation for a reason and is one of the top players in a game that may feature as many as 23 player who will be drafted into the NFL. Watch how well Alabama establishes the run and gets sophomore Eddie Lacy into the mix. Richardson rushed for 1,583 yards and 20 TDs, finishing third in the Heisman voting. Lacy rushed for 1,037 yards and 13 TDs. Against LSU in November, Richardson had 89 yards on 23 carries (with 80 yards in receptions); Lacy gained 19 yards on five carries.

Can the Tide keep the ball out of the hands of defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, another of those Heisman finalists? He has forced six fumbles, returning two for touchdowns. He’s a force on returns, too, so the Tide must not kick to him. He has two returns for TDs.

Special teams must live up to the word “special.” Jeremy Shelley and Cade Foster made two of six field-goal attempts in the first game. On returns, will Marquis Maze and/or Richardson give ’Bama good field position and perhaps more?

Will Nick Saban go to the gimmicks again? In the November game, Maze had six receptions for 61 yards and attempted a pass that was intercepted on the goal line. A senior, Maze has caught 136 passes for 1,844 yards and eight TDs.

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By  |  03:57 PM ET, 01/09/2012

 
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