Which team will win Monday night's Bowl Championship title game between Louisiana State and Alabama? For the fifth year in a row, the Wiz went to distinguished members of the news media and blogging community for the answer. Opinions vary, but nearly everyone agrees that one of these teams will actually score a touchdown in this Rematch of the Century.
At the bottom of the post, readers are invited to vote in two polls. The first asks which team will cover the spread. At the time of this post, Alabama is favored by 1.5 points. The second asks if the total number of points will go over or under 40.5.
Let's get to it (Twitter feeds are linked off names):
Larry Brown of Larry Brown Sports: Bama 20, LSU 17. Even though they lost, Bama appeared to be the better team in the first meeting between the squads. It moved the ball slightly better than LSU and lost because it couldn't make a field goal. I don't think LSU will get that lucky this time.
Yost of the Michigan blog M Zone: 'Bama 21, LSU 17. I just think it's going to be too hard for LSU to beat 'Bama twice in a season. Plus, unbeknownst to LSU, Nick Saban has probably signed 42 additional players since the end of the regular season.
Ty Hildenbrandt of Solid Verbal: LSU 17, Alabama 10. In a game where neither defense has a real chink in its armor, I like the better special teams unit (and the under). LSU will win yet another big game in a way that leaves fans feeling like it "got lucky," despite the fact that it has consistently won games like this all season. I have yet to find a really good reason to bet against LSU.
Tom Dienhart of the Big Ten Network: Alabama 17, LSU 15. The defenses will cancel each other out. The difference? Bama running back Trent Richardson, who will be the best offensive on the field in this epic throwback battle of SEC heavyweights that only will be missing leather helmets.
David Payne Purdum of Covers.com: LSU 23, Alabama 17. I've heard people talk about how Alabama outplayed LSU in the first meeting. I just didn't see it that way. Yes, the Tide moved the football between the 20s, but every team moves it between the 20s. Today's game is all about the red zone. LSU has scored 44 touchdowns in 61 trips to the red zone. Alabama has scored 32 tuchdowns in its 55 red-zone drives. Plus, the Tigers have a glaring advantage on special teams. That hasn't changed since November.
Jim Weber of Lost Lettermen: I like LSU, 17-13. Yes, the Tigers were outplayed in the first game. But the last two contests have shown just how dominant LSU can be when they are on. They can't afford to have another slow start against Alabama but I don't envision that happening with the Superdome going crazy. I expect the Tigers to play loose and come out swinging as they know a loss would probably still earn them a split of the national title.
Sean Callahan of Husker Online: LSU was fortunate to win the first time these two teams met, as Alabama missed multiple field goals. I think both teams have elite defenses, but the Crimson Tide have the edge on offense. I'm taking Alabama 23-17.
Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead: Alabama 19, LSU 17. Tough for LSU to beat such a great team twice in one season. Saban has the coaching edge with 35 days to prepare. Alabama should have won the prior meeting, if not for kicking miscues.
Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette: Alabama 45, LSU 42. It's unimaginable that either of these teams' defenses are equipped to stop the other's offense. Look for a lot of missed tackles and some shoddy defensive strategizing.
Brett McMurphy of CBS Sports: LSU 24, Alabama 14. I already saw this movie a couple of months ago and know how it ends. LSU improves to an amazing 14-2 vs. AP ranked opponents in the past two seasons.
John Witzke, aka Jihadist John: L$U 24 Roll Tide 13. While the arcade offenses of Oregon and West Virginia are fresh on your mind, take a step back and appreciate what the Bayou Bengals did to them on a neutral field and in a hostile road venue, respectively. This is an historic defensive unit that we're gonna tell people about for the rest of our lives. If Patrick Peterson had come back to school and joined Claiborne, Mathieu and Reid, they would be against the law. Get out the gumbo and salute the mad hatter, just like you've known you'd end up doing all season.
Jon Miller of Hawkeye Nation: LSU 21, Alabama 10: This would qualify as an offensive explosion, considering their 9-6 affair in November. This may be the least personal interest I have for a BCS title game during the BCS era, given how dull the first game was. Were this Oklahoma State-LSU? I'd be all over it. Now, the only compelling reason I have to tune in is because it's the only thing on Monday night worth watching.
Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports: LSU 21, Alabama 17. Three things — LSU has been the better team (marginally) since the (Scoring) Shame of the Century; LSU's running back depth is better than Alabama's; the game is on turf which is the X factor in terms of LSU's team speed.
Kyle Veazey of the Memphis Commercial Appeal: LSU 4, Alabama 2: In a game that shines the brightest light ever on the safety, the Tigers record one late in the fourth quarter for the dramatic win. LSU finishes with -55 yards total offense. Alabama, -56. (Seriously, though? I'll take LSU 16-13.)
Lisa Horne of Fox Sports: LSU 24 Alabama 16. While I expect both teams' defenses to be solid again, I also expect the offenses to be a little looser. LSU should have the upper hand in special teams (Tyrann Mathieu and Brad Wing) and that should be the difference-maker in the game.
Sam Chi of BCS Guru: Many pundits would pick Alabama over LSU based on Nick Saban's superior coaching, and that makes me laugh. Miles is the best big-game coach in college football and his record proves it. He's 5-1 in six bowl games at LSU, with five blowouts and a narrow loss to Penn State. In contrast, Saban is only 6-3 in bowl games at LSU and Alabama, including losses to Utah and Iowa, and some unimpressive wins despite overwhelming talent advantage. Taking a cue from their coach, the Tigers will play this game with a chip on their shoulder, and prove their win in the first meeting was no fluke. LSU takes this one going away, 31-14.
Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune: LSU 19, Alabama 14. The Tigers are underdogs for reasons only sports bettors can explain. LSU has a better quarterback — perhaps two better quarterbacks — superior receivers and game-changers on special teams. Maybe people can't fathom Nick Saban losing twice to the same team in the same season. I can.
Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News: LSU 21, Alabama 14. You'll actually see some TDs. Alabama moved the ball better than LSU the first time and is highly motivated for another chance. But LSU is the more complete team and has added motivation by being an underdog in New Orleans.
Pete Thamel of the New York Times: Alabama 21, LSU 13. The Tide will figure out how to stop LSU's only effective play (other than the punt), as they'll be prepared for Jefferson's option runs. Bama dominated the last game, and the 50-50 ball this time will go to the Tide.
Adam Neft of 97.1 The Fan in Columbus: Alabama 17, LSU 10. There's no way this game is going to become a field goal fest like the first matchup two months ago, is there? Nah. Although these two teams are fairly close in talent, watching the first game I really felt like Bama was better. Control the ball better, don't turn it over, get decent QB play and let Trent Richardson handle the rest. Nick Saban may even crack a smile while holding the crystal football.
Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Alabama 20, LSU 16. I love Les Miles as a coach but I'm betting he does at least one goofy thing in this game that he didn't do the last time the teams played, and it will backfire.
Drew Deener of WKRD Louisville: LSU 20-12. The Tigers are a much better team than the one that went into Tuscaloosa and won. At some point, the Mad Hatter is going to have to get some credit for being a pretty good coach.
Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: Alabama 17, LSU 13. In a defense-optional bowl season, plenty of D will be played in this game. But in the end, they'll still double the total points from their first meeting — with a different winner this time.
Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News: LSU 28, Alabama 17. The Crimson Tide will not be at home this time and the Tigers' defense might be the best in college football history. Nick Saban will be even surlier than usual late Monday night.
Jim Dunaway of host of WJOX Roundtable and anchor at CBS Birmingham: Alabama 20, LSU 13: The second bite at the apple is advantage Crimson Tide. First-year QB AJ McCarron gets a second chance at moving Alabama's offense. Nobody could simulate LSU game speed before the first meeting. AJ now knows what fast is. Besides, does anyone think Les Miles beats Nick Saban 3 straight times?
Ralph D. Russo, college football writer for the Associated Press: LSU 20, Alabama 16. LSU has more options offensively and has improved with Jefferson. That plus the special teams edge is enough for LSU.
Peter Burns of Fox Sports Radio: Nothing says crowning a champion almost 40 days after the last snap for the best two teams in college football. With that said, I didn't see anywhere that Alabama signed a new QB to play in New Orleans, so it's going to be more of the same one dimensional Alabama football. LSU has too many playmakers on both sides of the ball to see a different result than the "Game of the Century". LSU 20 Alabama 13.
Chris Huston of Heisman Pundit: LSU 20, Alabama 14. Alabama has more talent, but LSU has more magic. A tight game gets broken up a bit by the usual stuff — a defensive or special teams score — and the Tigers hold on.
Darren Smith of XX 1090 San Diego: Compared to November's "Game of the Century", the rematch might seem like the Alamo Bowl on the scoreboard. I think LSU wins 23-14. Les Miles is the perfect anti-Saban and has had success against his counterpart, winning three of five meetings. The Tigers free spirit coach leads his free spirit team to a championship in one of America's great free spirit cities.
Phil Burnett, defensive consultant at North Carolina Pembroke: LSU 13, Alabama 10: Love to be ringside for this heavyweight bout. Both teams have the best ranked defenses in America (Alabama #1 in total defense; LSU #2) so moving the ball will be very challenging. Special teams will be a huge factor. Brad Wing, LSU's punter, is a huge weapon. He can change field position as fast as returners Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu can. Plus LSU kicker Drew Alleman is 16/18 on field goals and 62/63 on extra points. Another edge LSU has is their front seven. Defensive lineman Sam Montgomery, Michael Brockers, Barkevious Mingo, Kendrick Adams and Bennie Logan plus linebacker Ryan Baker will make it hard on Alabama’s Trent Richardson to run the ball. If QB Jordan Jefferson can protect the ball and extend plays when needed, LSU wins by 3 points.
Brian Foley of College Baseball Daily: Alabama 27, LSU 24. The Crimson Tide get revenge for the early season OT loss by getting a late Jeremy Shelley field goal to defeat the Tigers. I also think Trent Richardson will have a huge game with 2 TD's and over 150 yards rushing. I think the luck of the Mad Hatter finally catches up to him with several "risks" backfiring on him.
Jimmy Shapiro of Sports Radio Interviews: Alabama 17, LSU 13. I truly have no desire to see this game again. I would have preferred to see Oklahoma State or even an Oregon/LSU rematch. I just like more of a contrast of styles. I remember watching the first game, enjoying it, and then saying I don't need to see any more 9-6 games where the #1 team in the country can't find anyone that can actually kick a field goal. Plus that frickin' kicker cost me money on the game. In all honestly, I'm just glad to see this college football season end. It was rarely about the game this year. It was more about the seedy nature of presidents, coaches, boosters and many of the so-called adults that say they have the players interests at hand. Plus there's way too many bowls. It's embarrassing to see 6-6 teams in bowl games in stadiums that are 50% empty. Ok, I just took my meds. Sorry for being so much of a Debbie Downer. I can't see Alabama having as many turnovers and missed field goals in this one as they did in the first one and I while I think the defenses are pretty even, I give a slight edge to the Alabama offense.
Ben Maller of Fox Sports Radio and The Dish: LSU 17, Alabama 13. America will be shocked to see both Alabama and LSU find this magical place called the end zone. In the end the better team, LSU, will take advantage of the still suspect Bama special teams to bring a title back to Baton Rouge.
Ben Koo of Bloguin and Awful Announcing: I'll give the nod to LSU due to two key competitive advantages. They'll be more successful passing on third downs and in the red zone in addition to superior special teams. Having a mobile quarterback will also allow help the TIgers with field position and time of possession, which will be crucial. In the end Bama is a good team, but they just don't have the offense to win a close game against an LSU team that seems to always have an answer or a late-game push in their backpocket. 23-16 LSU.
James Brooks of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: As someone writing from the only truly neutral state in college football, I've got to go with LSU over Alabama. The Tigers have a stronger schedule and beat Alabama head-to-head in a difficult environment. The only thing working in Alabama's favor is "Nobody Believes In Us" syndrome. LSU 27, Alabama 13.
Adam Kramer of Kegs 'n Eggs: Alabama 20, LSU 16. There will be a touchdown scored in this game, (well, hopefully) and it'll be interesting to see the wrinkles and tricks each coach brings to the table after more than a month of preparation. I still feel that Trent Richardson will find a way to win this for Alabama, whether it's running the ball or catching it out of the backfield. Hate going against LSU in this spot, but believe 'Bama will get revenge in the rematch of The Game of The Century of the Week of the Year.
Trent Condon of 1700 The Champ Des Moines: Alabama 27, LSU 17 A season of high scoring concludes with the two best defenses in the land. Points will be scored though, in bunches compared to the last worm burner. It's tough to beat Nick Saban twice in a season, unless his quarterback is Cleo Lemon. Tide rolls.
Julie Buehler of Colts.com and Planetpigskin.com: LSU 24, Bama 21. While a rematch tends to lean toward Alabama in a revenge grudge match, Les Miles' unpredictability will create opportunity for the Tigers. Their juggernaut of a secondary and explosive offense (12th in scoring in the nation) point to a big day... But the biggest difference between these teams is turnover margin. LSU #1 in the country, Bama, a distant 25th. Tigers celebrate, Tide keeps rolling.
Jay Christensen of The Wiz of Odds: LSU 3, Alabama 2. The Tigers get a field goal on their first possession and make it stand up in arguably the biggest story to hit the Southeast since Wal Mart decided to reinstitute the sale of firearms.
Thanks to 30fps.