Quarterbacks could decide LSU-Alabama winner

Ed Daniels    In the game of the year in college football next Saturday night, the winner will be the team with the best quarterback play.
    Think about it.
    LSU and Alabama have so many similarities.
    Both coaches love to run the football, play outstanding defense and strive to win the turnover battle and the kicking game. Both LSU’s Les Miles and Alabama’s Nick Saban know that with their outstanding talent, if they don’t give the game away, it will be very tough for any team in college football to take it away from them.
    The most impressive stat for both teams is this: LSU has turned the football over four times all season, Alabama five.
    Ball security, ball security, ball security.        
    If you don’t think so, ask LSU running back Michael Ford. Since his fumble early in a 35-7 win over Kentucky, Ford’s carries have diminished considerably.
    Both teams have outstanding defenses. Alabama is No. 1 in the nation in total defense, allowing only 180 yards per game. LSU is No. 3, allowing 251 yards a game. That 70 yards appears to be a large disparity. But there’s no doubt LSU has played the tougher schedule, which probably contributed to the wide gap in those numbers.
    So, I say it will come down to the quarterbacks.
    In the 24-21 win over Alabama in 2010, Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee were a combined 14-of-20 passing for 208 yards. The passing game provided the two biggest plays of the game.
    Early in the third quarter, LSU trailed 7-3. The Tigers played a first-and-10 at the LSU 6. Jefferson completed a 19-yard pass to Terrence Tolliver to the Alabama 25.
   In the biggest play of his LSU career, Jefferson then found Rueben Randle over the middle. Randle caught the ball in stride and outraced Alabama safety Mark Barron to the end zone to complete a 75-yard scoring strike.
    Late in the fourth, with LSU leading 24-21, the Tigers played a third-and-13 on the LSU 20. Lee found Randle open for a 47-yard completion. Alabama got the ball back on its own 14 with 18 seconds left on the clock.
    The pass from Lee to Randle didn’t get a ton of press after the game, but I think it was one of the bolder calls of Les Miles’ LSU tenure. If Lee is intercepted, LSU likely loses. And, Miles would have been skewered.
    But Les Miles has never coached afraid. And his team knows it.
    The image of tight end Deangelo Peterson running in the open field on a fourth-down reverse is still vivid in the minds of the Alabama faithful.
    But, still, it will come down to the quarterbacks. And, perhaps this question: Can Alabama redshirt freshman A.J. McCarron make a handful of plays in the passing game to keep the LSU defense honest?
    If he can’t, Tigers win.
    Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. he can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .