LSU Tigers: Barrett Jones
The biggest question mark among the 13 players LSU has headed to the combine is left tackle Chris Faulk who, despite missing all but the season opener with a torn ACL, opted to forgo his senior season at LSU and try for the NFL. He's one of two offensive linemen the Tigers have attending the NFL combine, along with center P.J. Lonergan.
Well, Nick Saban and his gang of future NFL ballers proved to us once again that it is indeed Alabama's world, after claiming their second consecutive national title and third in four years Monday night. That ringing in your ears is just the sound of "Roll Tide" being repeated over and over in your head. I've learned there's nothing we can do about it.
But will 2013 bring college football a team that can really stop the Tide? I mean, REALLY stop Alabama from winning a third straight national championship? Well, ESPN's Mark Schlabach seems to believe that the road to Pasadena is paved in crimson and white, as he has Alabama No. 1 in his Way-Too-Early-Top 25 for 2013.
It's hard to blame him at this point. Sure, Alabama's offensive line won't be nearly as good with Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack leaving. And it will take even more of a hit if/when D.J. Fluker decides to turn pro. But with quarterback AJ McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon (we're assuming Eddie Lacy and his sweet spin move are headed to the NFL), wide receiver Amari Cooper and a host of studs on the defense returning, Alabama will again be the team to beat.
John David Mercer-USA Today SportsJohnny Manziel and Texas A&M, ranked fifth by Mark Schlabach, host way-too-early No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 14 in the SEC opener for both teams.
But there are some quality teams in the SEC that will fight to dethrone Alabama, and Schlabach has four in his top 10. Texas A&M, which returns the Heisman-winning Johnny Football, ranks fifth, Georgia is sixth, South Carolina is seventh and Florida is 10th. The thing about all those teams is that they all return their starting quarterbacks, with Georgia's Aaron Murray being one of the best in the country alongside Johnny Manziel.
South Carolina will be one of the more balanced teams in the SEC next fall, and if Florida can actually find a passing game in 2013, watch out because that defense will still be fierce, even with a few junior defections.
LSU, checking in at No. 13, is the only other SEC team in Schlabach's top 25. The Tigers are expected to have a better offense, especially with Zach Mettenberger finally finding his comfort zone under center, but a poor offensive showing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl defeat to Clemson and the loss of junior running backs Michael Ford and Spencer Ware create an uneasy feeling around the offense. Plus, the defense just took a beating as a result of juniors departing for the NFL, especially up front. All-American punter Brad Wing also left.
The good news for LSU is that running back Jeremy Hill is returning, and he'll only be a sophomore.
It's a good list to start off with, but where in the world is Vanderbilt? The Commodores are coming off of a historic season in Nashville. There were nine wins that included a bowl victory, five conference wins and a seven-game winning streak. The quarterback and running back spots might be up for grabs, but Jordan Matthews is coming back, along with fellow receiver Chris Boyd. And most of the rest of the offense remains intact.
There was room for Vandy in there somewhere ...
During Muschamp's second season at Florida, he helped lead the Gators to an 11-1 record and a 7-1 record in SEC play. Florida ended the season No. 3 in the BCS standings and will play Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Gators also defeated four teams that finished the season ranked in the top 12 of the BCS standings.
As for Sumlin, in his first year at Texas A&M, the Aggies went 10-2 (6-2 SEC) and upset No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. A&M also owned the SEC's No. 1 offense and quarterback Johnny Manziel broke the SEC record for total offense in single season and is a Heisman Trophy finalist. The Aggies are headed to the AT&T Cotton Bowl to take on Oklahoma.
The coaches also named Manziel, who threw for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns to eight interceptions and rushed for an SEC-high 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns, the SEC's Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year.
Here are the individual awards voted on by the SEC's coaches:
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
CO-SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
*Caleb Sturgis, Florida
*Ace Sanders, South Carolina
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Barrett Jones, Alabama
JACOBS BLOCKING TROPHY
Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
CO-COACHES OF THE YEAR
*Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
*Will Muschamp, Florida
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Leading up to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, we'll take a daily look at a key LSU player. We'll examine how he has done and what his challenges are for the Clemson game.
P.J. Lonergan, C, Senior
Accomplishments: A three-year starter at center, Lonergan is the heart of an offensive line that overachieved after being down three starters for the second half of the season. He learned the position after arriving at LSU (he was a high school tackle at Archbishop Rummel High in suburban New Orleans) and he has turned himself into a technician who calls the blocking assignments and helps get the young line pointed in the right directions.
Shortcomings: Lonergan has had a solid, if unspectacular career. If there is any one factor that has held him back, it's been a sometimes troublesome back. He missed one start this season, giving way to his heir apparent, Elliott Porter, for a game while he rested his back (he did play some that game). He's not quite Barrett Jones, the celebrated Outland Trophy winner at Alabama, but there's little for LSU to complain about from its steady senior.
Against Clemson: Playing against an ACC opponent, LSU will undoubtedly try to impose its "SEC dominance" in terms of physical play. Look for the Bayou Bengals to test the middle of the Clemson defensive front with its physical, SEC running game against a Clemson defense that allows 4.2 yards per carry. Lonergan will be right in the middle of that scrum, getting his hands dirty in what will be his last college game.
But AJ McCarron's masterful drive down the field for the game-winning touchdown can't overshadow all. It can't overshadow the litany of three-and-outs on offense, the missed tackles on defense and the poor execution all around.
"I don't think we played our best game" coach Nick Saban said. "I think (LSU) played an outstanding game."
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Alabama coach Nick Saban isn’t sure he has ever been prouder of a football team.
Saban’s senior center, Barrett Jones, isn’t sure he has ever seen his coach happier after a football game.
“He gave me a big, old bear hug,” Jones beamed. “This is one we’ll all remember forever.”
As well they should.
Alabama’s thrilling come-from-behind 21-17 victory over LSU on Saturday night answered emphatically what everybody around college football has wanted to know about the Crimson Tide.
How would they respond when they finally found themselves in a close game and with their backs to the wall?
After all, Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) had trailed for all of 15 seconds this season, and nobody had come within 19 points of the Crimson Tide. They’d won their previous eight games by an average margin of 32.5 points.
“We knew a game like this was coming somewhere along the way, and we were going to be ready for it,” Alabama senior safety Robert Lester said. “We pride ourselves on being ready for any situation, and tonight we created another part of our identity.
“We showed the world that we can overcome hard situations.”
It certainly wasn’t Alabama’s best game. Not even close, really. The Crimson Tide looked like they might be on the verge of putting the game away late in the third quarter, but freshman running back T.J. Yeldon lost the handle on a handoff and fumbled at the LSU 10.
Not only that, but junior quarterback AJ McCarron missed his first five passes to start the second half, and Alabama’s normally suffocating defense was on its way to giving up 435 yards in total offense, the most the Crimson Tide have allowed since Saban’s first season in 2007, when they gave up 475 yards to LSU in a 41-34 loss.
“I don’t feel like we could have played any worse in the second half. We were just sloppy,” Jones said. “But we never panicked.”
Instead, the Crimson Tide demonstrated why they’re the No. 1 team in the country and why they’ve won 22 of their past 23 games dating back to the end of the 2010 season.
Tiger Stadium was so loud that it was literally quaking after LSU took a 17-14 lead early in the fourth quarter and seized all the momentum.
Alabama got the ball back on its own 28 with 1:34 to play and no timeouts remaining.
As the Tide players huddled, Jones looked at his teammates and said, “Guys, we have a chance to make history right here. Who wants to make history?”
Sure enough, McCarron completed four of his next five passes, and five plays later, Yeldon was celebrating in the LSU end zone after a 28-yard touchdown catch on a perfectly executed screen pass.
“A lot of things didn’t happen right, and a lot of things were out of character for us,” Jones said. “But we made plays when we had to.”
Saban knew what his team was in for, and he also knew that LSU would find a way to make it a four-quarter game.
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert"I've never been prouder of a bunch of guys to overcome adversity," Alabama's Nick Saban said.
In just about every championship season, there are going to be games where you don’t play your best, but you find a way to win.
Saban’s message to his team at halftime was simple.
“I told our guys that we’re going to have to keep fighting in this game and keep punching until we knock them out,” Saban said.
It was LSU, though, that did most of the punching coming out of the break and rallied from a 14-3 deficit. Alabama went three-and-out on its first two possessions, which set the tone for the Tigers to climb back into the game.
“We told our players, and it’s kind of ironic, that we would have to overcome a lot of adversity to win a game here,” said Saban, who’s won eight of his past nine games against nationally ranked teams.
“And when things went bad and the momentum of the game changed, that’s what we kept talking to them about. They kept their poise, and they kept playing and they kept competing. I’ve never been prouder of a bunch of guys to overcome adversity.”
When you play for Saban, it’s never wise to get caught up in reflection during the course of the season. In his world, there are no rearview mirrors.
But Jones did allow himself one brief moment of reflection before leaving the field late Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
“It was surreal being a part of this game,” Jones said. “One day I’ll be watching [TV] and the greatest games ever played, and this one will be on there.”
The Tide hope their great escape is only a prelude to something bigger and better, like a third national championship in the past four years.
And maybe even another bear hug for Jones.
When talking about the atmosphere he's anticipating for Saturday's BCS championship game rematch between his No. 5 LSU team and No. 1 Alabama at Tiger Stadium, Miles compared the potential atmosphere to Superstorm Sandy.
"I think there are a lot of negative ions being forced, which are positive things, into this area," he explained, "and I think the atmosphere will be charged."
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Alabama and LSU each had three players selected.
Center Barrett Jones, offensive guard Chance Warmack and noseguard Jesse Williams are the Crimson Tide players on the team.
The LSU players who made it are defensive end Sam Montgomery, safety Eric Reid and punter Brad Wing.
South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks and LSU punter Brad Wing round out the SEC representatives.
So much to do. Yet, he makes it look so easy.
It hasn't always been that way for Lonergan, who enters his third year starting at center for LSU, making him the most experienced of a veteran starting LSU offensive line. Lonergan moved from offensive guard at New Orleans/Archbishop Rummel High School to center during his redshirt freshman season in 2008 and now enters his senior season a master of his craft.
"If you really want to play center, you really have to embrace the position," said Lonergan, a second-generation Tiger whose father and uncle both played at LSU. "I like the position now. I wouldn't want to play anywhere else."
It should be noted that the media has only picked the correct SEC champion four times since 1992. Those correct picks were Florida in 1994 and 1995, LSU in 2007 and Florida in 2008.
Here are some notes from the league on the All-SEC team:
- The 222 voters is an all-time high for SEC media days. The previous high was 177 voters in 2010.
- South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was the leading vote-getter this season with 201 of 222 votes. He is the fourth running back in the past six years to be the highest vote-getter (2007 – Darren McFadden, Arkansas; 2008 – Knowshon Moreno, Georgia and Percy Harvin, Florida; 2009 – Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes, Florida; 2010 – Mark Ingram, Alabama; 2011 – Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina).
- Lattimore (2012) and Jeffery (2011) have been the leading vote-getters the last two seasons.
- Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones is a three-time member of the SEC media days first team
- South Carolina has had a sophomore make the media days first team for the third straight season – Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, DE (2012); Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina, RB (2011); Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, DB (2010).
- Since 2000, Arkansas’ Darren McFadden is the only unanimous selection to the SEC media days All-SEC team, collecting all 80 votes.
- LSU had the most first-team selections this season with seven. Since 1992, the most players on a first team were nine by Alabama in 2011 and eight by Alabama (2010) and Florida (2009).
- LSU leads with the most overall selections this season with 13. The total is the second highest ever, behind Alabama’s 16 last season. Prior to last season, Alabama (2010) and Florida (2009) had the most overall selections with 12.
- LSU is predicted to win the SEC championship by the media for the first time since 2007. It is the second time since 1992 that LSU has been predicted to win the league title. LSU did win the SEC title in 2007 and went on to win the BCS title.
Daniel Shirey/US PresswireSEC members are expecting big things this season for South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore.
Here is what the complete first team looks like:
Here are all 19 SEC players on the Nagurski Trophy list:
- Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
- Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
- Matt Elam, S, Florida
- Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
- John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
- Nico Johnson, LB, Alabama
- Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
- Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn
- Robert Lester, S, Alabama
- Rob Lohr, DT, Vanderbilt
- Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
- Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
- Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
- Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
- C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
- Eric Reid, S, LSU
- Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina
- Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
For the complete Nagurski Trophy watch list, go here.
The SEC also leads the country with 19 players on the 2012 preseason watch list for the Outland Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation's top interior lineman. Alabama leads the SEC with four players on the list, including reigning Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones.
Here are all 19 SEC players on the Outland Trophy watch list:
- Alvin Bailey, OG, Arkansas
- Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi State
- Chris Faulk, OT, LSU
- Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
- D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
- Alex Hurst, OT, LSU
- Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
- John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
- Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
- T.J. Johnson, C, South Carolina
- Wesley Johnson, OT, Vanderbilt
- Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
- Bennie Logan, DT, LSU
- Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
- Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
- Dallas Thomas, OG, Tennessee
- Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
- Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
- Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
For the full Outland Trophy watch list, go here.
Here are the seven SEC players who made the Mackey watch list:
- Chase Clement, Sr., LSU
- Chris Gragg, Sr., Arkansas
- Malcolm Johnson, So., Mississippi State
- Philip Lutzenkirchen, Sr., Auburn
- Mychal Rivera, Sr., Tennessee
- Jordan Reed, Jr., Florida
- Michael Williams, Sr., Alabama
For the full Mackey watch list, go here.
The SEC leads the nation with 10 players on the 2012 preseason watch list for the Rimington Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation's most outstanding center.
Here are the 10 SEC players:
- Dillon Day, RSo., Mississippi State
- Reese Dismukes, So., Auburn
- Jonotthan Harrison, RJr., Florida
- T.J. Johnson, Sr., South Carolina
- Barrett Jones, Sr., Alabama
- Patrick Lewis, Sr., Texas A&M
- P.J. Lonergan, Sr., LSU
- Matt Smith, Sr., Kentucky
- Travis Swanson, Jr., Arkansas
- Evan Swindall, Jr., Ole Miss
For the full Rimington watch list, go here.
QB: Connor Shaw, South Carolina: Shaw didn't seem to feel the pressure of a bowl game, as he completed 11-of-17 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 42 yards and another score in the Gamecocks' win against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. He even gave South Carolina all the momentum in the second half with a touchdown on a Hail Mary to end the first half.
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyMississippi State's Vick Ballard rushed for 180 yards against Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl.
RB: Onterio McCalebb, Auburn: As Auburn's lead back in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, McCalebb had a game-high 109 rushing yards, including a long of 60. He also recorded a 3-yard touchdown run and caught two passes for 53 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown in Auburn's win against Virginia.
WR: Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina: Jeffery's day would have been even better if he hadn't been ejected. However, he still caught four passes for a game-high 148 yards and snagged Shaw's Hail Mary touchdown pass at the end of the first half. He also had a 78-yard reception.
WR: Tavarres King, Georgia: King tried his best to get Georgia a victory in the Outback Bowl against Michigan State. He was Aaron Murray's best friend, catching six passes for a career-high 205 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown pass that at one point stood as the longest play in Outback Bowl history.
TE: Brad Smelley, Alabama: The Crimson Tide got its passing game going with Smelley in Monday's Allstate BCS National Championship win against LSU. He was AJ McCarron's safety net when plays broke down, and the young quarterback also used Smelley on rollouts. Smelley finished the game with seven catches for 39 yards.
OL: Barrett Jones, Alabama: Behind one of the most versatile linemen in the entire country, Alabama's line held back LSU's defensive front for most of Monday night's game. Alabama ran for 150 yards against LSU's vaunted defense. He also kept McCarron safe, as the youngster was only sacked twice and threw for 234 yards.
OL: Alvin Bailey, Arkansas: He just keeps looking better and better for the Razorbacks. In Arkansas' AT&T Cotton Bowl victory against Kansas State, he helped Arkansas churn out 129 rushing yards, including 4.3 yards per carry, and helped a line give quarterback Tyler Wilson enough time to pass for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
OL: Kyle Nunn, South Carolina: The Gamecocks' offensive line gave up four sacks to Nebraska, but Shaw was still able to throw for 230 yards and two touchdowns. With Nunn's help, the Gamecocks also rushed for 121 yards against the Cornhuskers.
OL: Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State: Ballard's outstanding performance for the Bulldogs wouldn't have been possible if not for some solid line play. Jackson had one of his best outings, as he helped Mississippi State rush for 253 yard and pass for another 129. Mississippi State gave up just one sack to Wake Forest.
C: William Vlachos, Alabama: Vlachos had his hands full with the interior of LSU's defensive line, but he more than held his own. He battled all night with LSU's Michael Brockers and allowed him to assist on just one tackle for loss. He provided a ton of protection in the passing game and helped Alabama rush for 150 yards on LSU's defense.
DE: Jake Bequette, Arkansas: Bequette said before Arkansas' bowl game that the Hogs' defense needed to make a statement. Bequette certainly made a few in his final game with the Razorbacks, registering two sacks, forcing a fumble and totaling three tackles.
DE: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina: The freshman put a nice bow on his first season with the Gamecocks. He put a ton of pressure on Nebraska's backfield with two sacks for a loss of 13 yards, and finished the game with four total tackles.
DT: Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State: Cox wanted to make a lasting impression in his final game with the Bulldogs and he certainly did by totally disrupting Wake Forest's offensive line in the Music City Bowl. He finished the game with seven tackles, including two for loss and a sack, and blocked his fifth career kick, which is a Mississippi State record.
DT: Michael Brockers, LSU: Brockers had a tough time with Vlachos in the middle, but that didn't stop him from making plays. He did a tremendous job of clogging holes in the middle for the Tigers and finished the game with seven tackles, assisting on one for loss, and blocked a field-goal attempt.
LB: Courtney Upshaw, Alabama: It came as no surprise that Upshaw was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game. He was nearly unblockable for LSU on Monday night. He put immense pressure on LSU's backfield and finished the game leading Alabama with seven tackles, including a sack.
LB: Archibald Barnes, Vanderbilt: Barnes was a true rover for Vanderbilt against Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl. He had a game-high 10 tackles, assisted on one for a loss, and blocked a field goal attempt in the fourth quarter that gave Vandy some life late.
LB: Alec Ogletree, Georgia: Georgia might not have come up with the win in the Outback Bowl, but it wasn't because of how Ogletree played. He was all over the field for the Bulldogs, grabbing a game-high 13 tackles, including two for loss, breaking up two passes and getting a sack.
CB: Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt: Yet again, Hayward was tremendous in coverage for the Commodores. He grabbed two interceptions and broke up another pass. He was also second on the team with eight tackles, including one for loss. Cincinnati threw for just 80 yards against the Commodores.
CB: Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina: Gilmore ended his South Carolina career on a very high note. He recorded five tackles, including one for loss, and an interception. He also returned a blocked extra point for South Carolina's first points of the game. Nebraska threw for just 116 yards on the Gamecocks' secondary.
S: Mark Barron, Alabama: Barron recorded just two tackles, including a sack, but he was outstanding in coverage. He roamed the back part of the field for the Crimson Tide and didn't allow LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson stretch the field at all because of his positioning. Jefferson threw for just 53 yards on Alabama.
S: Matt Elam, Florida: Elam was Florida's most consistent player during the regular season, and he was all over the field for the Gators in the Taxslayer.com Outback Bowl against Ohio State. He finished the game with six tackles, two for loss and a sack.
PK: Jeremy Shelley, Alabama: Talk about redeeming the position that spoiled Alabama's first game against LSU. Shelley hit five of his seven field-goal attempts against the Tigers and even rebounded to hit four of his last five after having his second attempt blocked in the second quarter.
P: Dylan Breeding, Arkansas: He punted four times for an average of 46.8 yards per kick. He had a long of 63 yards and dropped two inside the 20-yard line against Kansas State.
RS: Joe Adams, Arkansas: Surprise, surprise, Adams made another special teams unit look silly. Against Kansas State in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, Adams got things started for the Hogs with a nifty 51-yard punt return for a touchdown. His return sparked a 16-point second quarter for the Hogs.
AP: Brandon Boykin, Georgia: Boykin found a way to put points on the board three different ways in the Outback Bowl. He forced a safety when he stuffed Michigan State's Keshawn Martin on the Spartans' first offensive play, returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown, and caught a 13-yard touchdown late. His punt return was the longest play in Outback Bowl history.
If Alabama should beat LSU, particularly in a close game, then the vote in the final Associated Press poll in the hours following the game could get really interesting.
Can you say split national championship?
Nobody has really wanted to talk about the possibility the last week in New Orleans, and that includes both sides.
“The only thing on our minds is this game,” LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson said. “This is the BCS championship game. It’s not about what we’ve done this season or anything that’s happened in the past. This is the game that counts.”
One by one, the Alabama players have also shrugged off the possibility that they might have to share the national championship if they win on Monday night.
The only time that has happened in the BCS era, ironically, was in 2003 when LSU beat Oklahoma in New Orleans to win the BCS national championship and USC was voted No. 1 in the Associated Press poll after beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
“All we can do is play this game,” Alabama running back Trent Richardson said. “They’re going to remember who wins this ballgame, nothing else. It’s just like a lot of people saying we didn’t deserve to be in the game. Well, we are, and we plan on proving to everybody that they got it right by putting us here.”
The winner Monday night is automatically crowned the BCS national champion, but the AP poll is no longer part of the BCS equation.
And, already, a sampling of AP voters have said they would seriously consider keeping LSU No. 1 even if the Tigers lose to the Crimson Tide in a close game.
Oklahoma State (12-1) is also sitting there and would warrant some consideration, especially if it’s a sloppy game and Alabama barely squeaks by. The Cowboys were just 18 points behind the Crimson Tide in the final AP regular-season poll.
LSU’s overall body of work is what’s so impressive, and the thinking among some AP voters is that the Tigers would be as deserving as anybody at 13-1 when you consider that they’ve already beaten eight nationally-ranked teams, including three top-5 teams, and took down Alabama the first time in Tuscaloosa.
If Alabama were to win handily on Monday night, the talk of a split national title would die down considerably.
Either way, the Crimson Tide’s Outland Trophy winner, offensive tackle Barrett Jones, said nobody on the team has spent any time worrying about having to share the championship with anybody.
“Whoever wins the national championship game is the national champion,” Jones said. “I understand how a lot of people are saying that they’ve already beaten us once, and they have.
“But this is the game for the national championship. They know that, and we know that. No matter what side you’re on, this is the game you wanted to be in when the season began.”
The LSU players didn’t even want to broach the subject of what happens if they come up short on Monday night.
Rather, their focus is on making history. They could become the first unbeaten national champion since the advent of the AP Top 25 poll in 1937 to beat four top 5 teams on their way to the title.
“We want to be remembered as the best team ever,” LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “When you mention LSU, we want people to remember this team.”