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BCS title game

January 07, 2008|Peter Yoon

FACTS

* Who: Ohio State (11-1) vs. Louisiana State (11-2).

* When: Tonight, 5:15 PST, Superdome, New Orleans.

* On the air: Channel 11.

* Payout: $17 million per school.

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How they match up

*--* OS CATEGORY LSU 32.0 Scoring 38.7 10.7 Points given up 19.6 196.4 Passing offense 229.2 200.7 Rushing offense 218.9 397.1 Total offense 448.2 148.2 Passing defense 180.8 77.1 Rushing defense 103.1 225.2 Total defense 283.8 *--*

* LSU rushing offense vs. Ohio State rushing defense: Tigers running back Jacob Hester is more of a fullback than a tailback, but he gets the bulk of the carries for an attack that is 11th in the nation with 218.9 yards rushing per game. Speedy slot receiver Early Doucet, who has had time to recover from a groin injury that kept him out five games, could get a few carries. Whatever the Tigers pull out, Ohio State will be ready with a defense that gave up only 77.1 yards rushing a game to rank third in the nation. All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis spearheaded a unit that gave up only two rushing touchdowns. Edge: Ohio State.

* LSU passing offense vs. Ohio State passing defense: The Tigers will use a combination of Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux at quarterback -- a combination similar to the Chris Leak-Tim Tebow tandem that the Buckeyes had trouble containing against Florida last year. Flynn is more of a pure passer and Perrilloux is a dual threat with a big arm, but the Tigers averaged a mediocre 229.2 yards passing. Ohio State gave up only 148.2 yards passing per game, the least in the nation. Pressure was key, as defensive end Vernon Gholston was fourth in the nation with 13 sacks to lead a unit that had 42 sacks. Speedy defensive back Malcolm Jenkins will be counted on to shut down Doucet, the Tigers' big-play threat. Edge: Ohio State.

* Special teams: LSU kicker Colt David and punter Patrick Fisher were selected All-SEC. David has made 25 of 32 field-goal attempts, and Fisher averages 43.9 yards per punt and has put 12 inside the 20. The Tigers' return units may be the team's biggest weakness, ranking 106th in the nation on punt returns and 88th on kickoffs. Ohio State ranks 117th on kickoff returns, but punt returner Brian Hartline is 19th in the nation. Ohio State kicker Ryan Pretorius made 17 of 21 field goals and was six for seven from beyond 40 yards. Edge: LSU.

* Ohio State rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense: Buckeyes running back Chris Wells averages 121.9 yards a game and the Buckeyes line can wear out defenses, but they'll be up against three defensive All-Americans in LSU tackle Glenn Dorsey, linebacker Ali Highsmith and safety Craig Steltz. Dorsey won numerous national defensive awards and his run stuffing was a key reason why LSU gave up only 103.1 yards rushing a game and Arkansas All-American Darren McFadden was the only back to gain 100 or more yards rushing against the Tigers. Edge: LSU.

* Ohio State passing offense vs. LSU passing defense: Todd Boeckman isn't flashy, but he's efficient, ranking 13th in the nation with a 150.25 rating. He has a strong arm and gets good protection from a solid line anchored by Kirk Barton, but the Buckeyes playbook is conservative, so they are 88th in the nation in passing offense. The Tigers held opponents to 180.8 yards passing a game and had 21 interceptions -- both among the top 10 in the nation. Steltz led the SEC with six interceptions and led LSU with 97 tackles. Edge: LSU.

* Coaching: Jim Tressel has taken Ohio State to BCS bowls in five of his seven seasons, and three of them have been the national title game. He is 3-1 in BCS games and 1-1 in national title games, winning against Miami in 2002 and losing last season to Florida. Les Miles is in his third season with the Tigers, and there was speculation he would leave LSU for Michigan, where he was an assistant for 10 seasons. He's 33-6 at LSU, but critics say he's done it with players recruited by his predecessor, Nick Saban. Edge: Ohio State.

* Intangibles: LSU is playing only 80 miles from its campus and is playing a bowl game in the Superdome for the fourth time in seven years. The Tigers are 3-0 in those games. Ohio State hopes to counter that home-field advantage with experience. The Buckeyes are in the national-title game for the second consecutive year and 17 players on this year's roster were with the team when it lost to Florida last year. Whoever wins will become the first school to win a second BCS championship game. Edge: LSU.

* Prediction: Ohio State, 24-23.

-- Peter Yoon

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