Things To Ponder During The Wait

As I wait for Sunday and the announcement that Alabama will get a second chance at LSU in the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans on Jan. 9, I have time to ponder some things about this Crimson Tide team and the Alabama football program. And apropos, because it is so cold today, I think how much it is going to frost the Bama-haters.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban doesn't think the Crimson Tide is in the BCS clubhouse yet. I do. I can't think of anything that any team behind Bama can do to overcome the Tide lead in the BCS standings. I also think that LSU's resume is so strong that the Tigers are in the title game even if Georgia does pull the unlikely upset in Atlanta in the SEC Championship Game Saturday.

Think about this for a moment: Although the best poll, the Associated Press poll, isn't a part of the BCS calculations, it is made up of people who know something about football (mostly sportswriters and a few sportscasters). For the past two weeks, all 60 AP voters have had LSU number one and all 60 have had Alabama second.

(Alabama has now been ranked in 62 consecutive AP polls, which is best in the nation.)

Presumably, voters in the Harris Poll and in the Coaches' Poll have roughly the same knowledge and prejudices, as do those who program the six mysterious computers used in the BCS calculations. (Dear God, how did we get into this convoluted predicament of choosing a college football champion?)

Anyway, now that we've got that out of the way:

This will be a rematch. On Nov. 5, LSU defeated Alabama in overtime in Tuscaloosa in a game in which there was not a touchdown. It was LSU 9, Alabama 6. So Bama, which lost in its home state to the Fighting Tigers, will have to beat LSU in its home state to even the slate this season. In this case, it will be better to win the second game than the first, if a team can win only one.

If Alabama can defeat LSU in New Orleans, it will be the Crimson Tide's 14th national championship, and second in three years.

If Alabama wins, it will give this year's senior class a record of 48-6. Only the Nebraska seniors of 1997 (49-2) will have had more victories in a four-year period.

Most people consider a great game one that comes down to the wire, Personally, I like to get a big lead early and then expand it. But if it comes down to the fourth quarter, Bama has shown that the Tide has the stuff to get the job done in the final 15 minutes.

In the fourth quarter this year, Alabama has outscored its 11 opponents by 105-21, a margin of 84 points. Bama has scored 13 touchdowns, opponents 2. The Tide has out rushed its opponents by 1,048 yards to 320, a difference of 728. Alabama has had to pass only 29 times in the fourth quarter – completing 20 (69 per cent). Opponents have completed only 38-80 (47.5 per cent) and had five intercepted.

Great coaches believe in discipline. Alabama demonstrates that in averaging only four penalties per game, which ranks third in the nation. Bama has been penalized an average of only 33.67 yards per game, which ranks fourth in the nation.

It's old news that Alabama leads the nation in scoring defense (8.8 points per game), rushing defense (74.9 yards per game), passing defense (116.3 yards per game), pass defense efficiency, and total defense (191.2 yards per game). Here are some other tidbits to think about:

When Alabama won the national championship in 2009, the Tide led the nation in holding opponents to three downs and out with 5.61 per game. This year, Bama is doing even better. Alabama is again first in the nation in three-and-outs with 73 in 12 games, 6.1 per game.

The Alabama defense has allowed just 12 touchdowns in 12 games, also best in the nation. In part, that's because Alabama allows just 10.5 first downs per game, also best in the nation.

The Tide is surrendering only 3.39 yards per play, which also leads the nation.

Opponents have run 676 plays against the Crimson Tide defense and managed to make five or more yards (running or passing) on only 158 of them, 23.3 per cent. Alabama, by contrast, has made five or more yards on 307 of 796 plays, 38.6 per cent. The Tide defense has given up only 66 plays (9.8 per cent) of more than 10 yards and only 25 plays of more than 15 yards (3.7 per cent). Alabama has allowed only five rushes of more than 20 yards the entire season and only 20 plays of more than 20 yards (2.9 per cent).

Most of the attention to Alabama detail is on the defense, but there's an interesting comparison of offensive efficiency in the 2009 national championship season with Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and a first year quarterback in Greg McElroy and this season with a Heisman Trophy hopeful in Trent Richardson and first year quarterback A.J. McCarron.

In 2009 Bama averaged 32.1 points compared to 36 points per game this year. Two years ago the Tide rushed for an average of 215.1 yards per game compared to 219.8 yards per game this season. Passing in 2009 averaged 187.9 yards per game compared to 213.6 per game this year. And total offense in 2009 was 403 yards per game, while this season it is 433.4 yards per game.

There is more, of course, but I've got to spread it out. The BCS National Championship Game is nearly six weeks away.

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