LSU, Alabama to Meet Again for College Football’s Championship

Alabama coach Nick Saban
“Our team is very deserving of the opportunity to play in a national championship game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said in a televised interview with ESPN. Photographer: Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Louisiana State and the University of Alabama will play for college football’s national championship next month in a rematch of a Nov. 5 regular season game won by LSU 9-6 in overtime.

The national title game will be played Jan. 9 at the Superdome in New Orleans, about 80 miles southeast of LSU’s campus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

While LSU finished No. 1 in the BCS standings with a 13-0 record, Alabama topped Oklahoma State for the No. 2 spot after both teams went 11-1. It will be the first time in the 14-year history of the Bowl Championship Series that two teams who met in the regular season will face each other in the title game.

“Our team is very deserving of the opportunity to play in a national championship game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said in a televised interview with ESPN. “I think there’s a lot of people out there that think these are the best two teams in the country and want to see them play again.”

This will be the first time the BCS title game is contested by teams from the same league, guaranteeing the Southeastern Conference a sixth straight national champion.

“The upside is you understand your opponent, you’ve studied them before,” LSU coach Les Miles said about the rematch with Alabama, which missed three field goals and had another blocked in last month’s game in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “We’ll go right to that game and study and see what adjustments to the game plan we can make.”

LSU improved to 13-0 with a 42-10 win over the University of Georgia two days ago in the SEC championship game. The Tigers finished No. 1 in the final BCS standings, a spot they’ve held since the first rankings came out in October.

Alabama Finishes No. 2

Alabama (11-1) claimed the No. 2 spot in the BCS ahead of Oklahoma State (11-1) even though the Cowboys routed Oklahoma 44-10 on Dec. 3 to capture the Big 12 Conference title.

While Alabama’s lone loss came at home against LSU in a game in which the SEC rivals combined for five field goals, Oklahoma State’s only blemish was a 37-31 double-overtime defeat at Iowa State on Nov. 18. Alabama had dropped to third in the rankings behind Oklahoma State following its loss and then moved back to No. 2 when the Cowboys were beaten.

“We had a tough loss, but we came back and did everything we could do to dominate the game against Oklahoma,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy told ESPN.

The BCS standings determine the championship game participants and incorporate the USA Today coaches’ poll, Harris Interactive poll and six computer rankings.

Close Finish

LSU finished with a 1.000 BCS rating, while Alabama was at .942, followed by Oklahoma State at .933. BCS executive director Bill Hancock said it was the closest finish between the second-and third-place teams under the current formula, which has been in place since 2004.

Oklahoma State will face fourth-ranked Stanford University (11-1) in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2 in Glendale, Arizona.

Fifth-ranked Oregon meets No. 10 Wisconsin in the Jan. 2 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. In other BCS games, Virginia Tech plays Michigan at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and Clemson faces West Virginia at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

Arkansas, which finished sixth in the BCS, will meet No. 8 Kansas State in the Jan. 6 Cotton Bowl.

Seventh-ranked Boise State (11-1) is headed to the Dec. 22 MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas against a 6-6 Arizona State team after being passed over for an at-large spot in a BCS bowl.

Ninth-ranked South Carolina plays No. 20 Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 2 in Orlando, Florida.

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