LSU and Alabama To Meet for Allstate BCS National Championship on Jan. 9 in New Orleans park
For the first time in the history of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), two teams from the same conference will meet for the national championship as Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama, both from the Southeastern Conference, will play in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship on Monday, Jan. 9, 2012 in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The game is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m. (CT) and will be televised by ESPN.
It is fitting to have the national title battle between SEC teams hosted by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans as the SEC's relationship with the bowl dates back to the original Sugar Bowl Classic in 1935 and the city has also hosted 22 National Champions in the Sugar Bowl's 78-year history.
"We are very excited to have the opportunity to host two Southeastern Conference teams for the Allstate BCS National Championship," said Sugar Bowl President Lance Africk. "Our long and storied history with the SEC makes it appropriate that this historic match-up will be right here in New Orleans. We're very much looking forward to welcoming these tremendous fan bases back to our city and to show them the hospitality for which our bowl is famous."
LSU, the No. 1 team in the final BCS Standings, is the only undefeated team in the nation with a perfect 13-0 record, which includes three victories over top three teams. Alabama, meanwhile, is No. 2 in the country with its only loss a 9-6 overtime defeat at the hands of the top-ranked Tigers. This will be the first rematch for a National Championship since the 1996 season when Florida State defeated Florida, 24-21, in their regular-season meeting, followed by the Gators rolling to a 52-20 win in the 1997 Sugar Bowl to earn the national title.
LSU will be making its third appearance in the BCS National Championship – the other two were also in New Orleans as the Tigers defeated Oklahoma, 21-14, in the 2004 Sugar Bowl and then upended Ohio State, 38-24, in the 2008 Allstate BCS National Championship. Alabama captured the national title in the 2010 BCS Championship, when it held off Texas, 37-21, in Pasadena, Calif. Both teams are also very familiar with the Sugar Bowl as they have each made 13 appearances (the most of any schools) – the Tigers have a 6-7 all-time record in the Sugar Bowl, while the Crimson Tide has registered an 8-5 record in its Sugar Bowl appearances.
"Having the opportunity to host the Allstate BCS National Championship is a true honor for the Sugar Bowl and for New Orleans," said Paul Hoolahan, chief executive officer of the Allstate Sugar Bowl. "This has been another great season for college football, from the first weekend right through today's announcements, and we're excited that the top two teams for this year's championship game are two storied programs that have great tradition with us at the Sugar Bowl."
Both teams come into the National Championship game with outstanding defenses. Alabama is rated No. 1 in the nation allowing just 191.25 yards and 8.83 points per game. LSU is second in the nation, allowing 252.08 yards and 10.54 points per game. Both defenses are also stacked with star players. LSU has two players that are finalists for major national defensive awards – Tyrann Mathieu is up for the Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year) as well as the Walter Camp Award (nation's top player) while Morris Claiborne is a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (nation's most outstanding defensive player) and the Jim Thorpe Award (most outstanding defensive back). Alabama's Dont'a Hightower is a finalist for the Bednarik Award, the Butkus Award (most outstanding linebacker) and the Rotary Lombardi Award (lineman of the year), while Courtney Upshaw is also up for the Butkus Award and the Rotary Lombardi, and Mark Barron is a finalist for the Nagurski and the Thorpe.
Offensively, the Crimson Tide has the most-decorated star in the game in Heisman Trophy candidate Trent Richardson, who is also a finalist for the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Award, which both honor the nation's top player. The junior has rushed for 1,583 yards and 20 touchdowns this year. However, the Tigers counter with one of the most productive offensive backfields in the country – four standout running backs who have combined to rush for 2,314 yards and 30 touchdowns.
LSU head coach Les Miles is in his seventh year in Baton Rouge, having posted a 75-17 (.815) record. This will be his second appearance in a BCS Championship game and he has all but assured his fifth top-10 finish during his Tiger tenure. This will also be his seventh bowl appearance, having posted wins in five of those games, including the 2008 Allstate BCS National Championship over Ohio State and the 2007 Allstate Sugar Bowl over Notre Dame in New Orleans. The 58-year old Miles is a product of Elyria, Ohio, and a 1976 graduate of Michigan. He spent four years as the head coach at Oklahoma State prior to taking the LSU position.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban has the unique challenge of going against one of his former schools in this year's championship game. In his five years in Tuscaloosa, the 60-year old Saban has posted a 54-12 (.818) record, including a BCS National Championship following the 2009 season. He has directed the Crimson Tide to bowl appearances in all five of his seasons, including a trip to the 2009 Allstate Sugar Bowl. A West Virginia product, Saban graduated from Kent State University and was the head coach at LSU from 2000-04. He has also served as the head coach with Michigan State, Toledo and the Miami Dolphins.
For more information about the Allstate Sugar Bowl please log on to its website allstatesugarbowl.org.