I'm kidding. Well, actually I'm not. Anyone who caught American Gladiators last night had to have enjoyed it. Brought me back. It was a quality watch. It's up against the National Title game tonight (well, you know kickoff won't be until at least 8:30, Gladiators is on from 8-9). But I digress. It should be a great game. The chip on their shoulder Ohio State Buckeyes against the gambler Les Miles and his LSU Tigers. Last year, the Buckeyes were stunned by Florida's speed and had their doors blown off. This time around, you think they will know what to expect.
Analysis: I've seen both teams several times during the regular season. I don't know what it is, but LSU's offense doesn't excite me one bit, yet they put up 38 points per game. Tailback Jacob Hester is the kind of kid you will always remember is a great college player who you never understood why he was so great. He doesn't have blazing speed, but whenever the game is on the line, you want Hester toting the rock for you. He is so tough. QB Matt Flynn isn't spectacular, but one thing he is good at is staying away from the killer mistake. Keep in mind, in both of LSU's losses, Flynn led the offense to 85 points combined. With the way Ohio State's defense attacks, do not be surprised one bit to see more of backup Ryan Perriloux than normal. He is like Illinois QB Juice Williams, who torched the Buckeyes in their only loss of the season. The threat of his running ability may open up Wide Receivers Early Doucet and Brandon LaFell for a big play deep. Speaking of Doucet, he is one of, if not the best WR in the country. He battled injuries all year and is finally 100%
Ohio State offensively has to do one thing, pound the rock to Beanie Wells. The way he wore down Michigan in the regular season finale and the way LSU was dominated by Arkansas' Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in their regular season finale is the recipe OSU will most likely follow. You can bet LSU will stack the line with eight, even nine guys in the box and dare QB Todd Boeckman (who has a smokin hot girlfriend by the way) to beat them. Starting WR's Brian Robiske and Brian Hartline have sick hands and are as reliable as you can get on the outside.
Defensively, The two teams are amongst the tops in the nation. Ohio State's #1 D has three absolute studs in Linebacker James Laurenaitis, cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, and Defensive end Vernon Gholston. I said it the day of the game, the show Gholston put on against Michigan was overshadowed by Beanie Wells on the other side of the ball. It was jaw dropping how easily he took over the Michigan offensive line. Jenkins is a lock down corner who will no doubt be in charge of trying to stop Doucet. Laurenaitis is the emotional leader and heart and soul of the D. He is the type of sideline to sideline guy he predicessor AJ Hawk was. He is the biggest reason this defense hasn't skipped a beat in the last two years.
LSU's got a healthy Glenn Dorsey for the first time since the Virginia Tech blowout. That gives the Tigers Defense a whole new dimension. He is the most dominant defensive player in the college game. Don't believe me? Look at the awards he won playing half speed all year long. The key will be how the Tigers run defense, which has been poor in several games this year, handles Beanie Wells. If Wells gets off, it could spell doom for the Tigers. The LSU corners Chevis Jackson and Jonathon Zenon can be beaten. Safety Craig Steltz is a beast against the run, but slow against the pass. If there is a spot LSU is vulnerable, it's on the deep ball. The guy I love on this unit is Linebacker Ali Highsmith.
Prediction: LSU has one major advantage that cannot be overtstated: this is a home game for them. The stadium will be at least 75% Purple and Gold. While Ohio State travels as well or better than any school in the country, this is far from a neutral site. I think LSU goes up early, the crowd stays up the entire game. Beanie Wells will keep the Buckeyes in the game as Jim Tressel will stay patient with the running game. In the end, LSU's talent coupled with the home crowd will be too much for the Buckeyes to handle. LSU 24 Ohio State 14