The Dye-Gest: Big Games And the BCS

Hall of Fame Coach Pat Dye writes about the SEC and the Bowl Championship Series in this column.

It is going to be interesting to see how the BCS rankings shake out for choosing the teams for this season's national championship game. There are a lot of interesting potential scenarios and this week's SEC game matching No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama will be big part of the equation.

One of the more interesting involves Boise State, a team from a non-BCS conference. If Alabama beats LSU and moves to No.1 in the rankings, what is going to happen if Boise State stays unbeaten, LSU wins the rest of its games, Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma and Stanford gets beat by Oregon? All of those things certainly could happen and at the end of the regular season you are sitting there with Alabama and Boise State being the only unbeaten teams, or if LSU beats Alabama it would be LSU and Boise State as the two unbeatens. If that happens, what are the polls going to do in picking the teams to play for the BCS title won by the Auburn Tigers last January?

If Boise State is the only unbeaten team in addition to the winner of the LSU-Alabama game, I believe the computers will have the two SEC teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 if the loser of the LSU-Alabama game finishes the regular season with one loss. You have got the human element in it with the polls and a lot of voters aren't going to want to see Alabama and LSU play again so they a lof of them would vote to set up a Boise State matchup vs. the SEC champion.

If that happens the college football world will be watching closely to see how Boise State stands up in that situation. Although the Broncos don't play anything close to an SEC schedule, they have an interesting team with a great quarterback plus lots of experienced players who have had success in big games in recent seasons. Of course, if Boise State was playing in a top BCS conference the odds of the Broncos producing unbeaten seasons would drop dramatically.

Another SEC game this week with BCS implications features SEC East co-leader South Carolina traveling to Arkansas in a matchup of Top 10 teams. Even though South Carolina has a better record, I think Arkansas will win the game because the Razorbacks are the more stable team at quarterback and I think Arkansas will be good enough defensively, at home, to get stops against South Carolina. I also think the Arkansas offense is good enough to score on a South Carolina defense that is playing well.

Tyler Wilson has to be one of the toughest guys in college football. The Arkansas quarterback has taken so many big hits this season, but he has managed to keep on playing week after week. I expect him to be a difference-maker vs. South Carolina.

The game matching LSU and Alabama is getting a lot of attention and should be a good one. Almost everybody in the country has LSU ranked number one although I think Alabama looks to be the better team. Alabama is ranked at the top of almost every SEC defensive and offensive category this week. LSU has impressive statistics, too, and has played a tougher schedule than Alabama so that is probably why so many people have the Tigers ranked ahead of Alabama.

From what I have seen LSU and Alabama look to be pretty evenly matched. LSU's defense may play a little faster than Alabama's and it also plays a little wilder, scheme-wise, than Alabama, which is pretty predictable. You just have to got out there and block Alabama, but that is not easy to do with the talent on that defense when those players aren't making mistakes.

John Chavis, the coordinator at LSU, is a great defensive coach and he has got the talent to do whatever he wants to do. Like LSU, Alabama has had an extra week to get ready for this game so you know that Nick Saban will have his defense playing great, too.

I think both teams will work hard to run the football, but will have to throw it to consistently move the football. My expectation is there will be a lot of no-gainers, or even plays for lost yardage, when the teams try to run it at those defenses. I think Alabama's running back, Trent Richardson, is probably more capable of breaking the long run than LSU's backs are and the same is true of Alabama's other back, Eddie Lacy.

LSU's backs run the ball differently than Alabama's. They are so big and are running so hard with so much body lean they are difficult to stop at the line of scrimmage, but a lot of times after they break through the line their momentum causes them to fall forward preventing them from making long runs. Richardson and Lacy are more upright runners, hunting for soft spots in the defense, trying to make the right cuts.

Alabama has two good safeties to put up close to the line to stop the running game, but LSU doesn't care about that. They will just put another big guy in the game to block and Alabama is the same way. If the running games are neutralized, who wins the game will come down to the play of the quarterbacks. Will Alabama's A.J. McCarron be able to outplay LSU's seniors, Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson?

The quarterbacks are going to have to make big plays to keep drives alive and their offensive lines are going to have to give the QBs time to make plays. Whoever does the best job of that will likely win. In a big game like this one if the teams are as evenly matched as they appear, pressure on the quarterback will make huge difference in determining who wins the game.

(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to

Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns for Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.
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