Bama – LSU II: A First Look at the Differences Since Nov. 5th

The does a pretty fair job summarizing the differences between Bama – LSU I and II (highlights and emphasis added):

The BCS National Championship Game between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama is just two weeks away, and between now and then, much time and space will be spent analyzing the Tigers’ 9-6 overtime victory against the Crimson Tide on Nov. 5 — and understandably so.

But when these teams meet again, the context will be much different, and not just because this one will be for the BCS title and the other one was just a really big regular-season game.

First off, these teams know each other better now. Sure they play each other every season and they had two weeks to study one another the last time thanks to strategically placed open dates. But LSU now has first-hand knowledge of just how strong Bama’s defense is, and Bama has first-hand knowledge of just how fast LSU’s is.

Now the Tigers have the confidence of a head-to-head victory inside of them, and the Tide has the sting of losing a game it easily could have won.

Bama has had an extra week since its last game compared to LSU because of the Tigers playing in the SEC Championship Game. Does that mean the Tide will be better rested and healthier? Or does it mean the Tigers will be sharper? No one knows, but it’s another change from the first meeting.

The most obvious difference will be the venue — the Mercedes-Benz Superdome rather than Bryant-Denny Stadium. So weather won’t be a factor. It was a breezy night in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5, though it didn’t appear the wind caused any of the Tide’s three missed field goals that weren’t blocked.

There will be a lot more purple and gold and a lot less crimson in the stands than there was the last time.

Bama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain will become head coach at Colorado State after this game. Whether the dual responsibilities will affect the Tide’s offense remains to be seen, but McElwain certainly has more on his plate than he did the first time.

Jordan Jefferson is LSU’s starting quarterback and likely will play the whole game. He entered the first game as a change of pace to starter Jarrett Lee and took over after Lee threw his second interception of the game.

Jefferson has been the starter ever since. This time the Tigers will have a dual threat for the entire game, but the Tide knows who it’ll be facing throughout.

And finally, Tyrann Mathieu is back. He played in the first game all right, but he was at the midst of a mid-season drought of big plays. In LSU’s last two games, Mathieu has made a handful of big-time plays on defense and special teams.

On Jan. 9, it’ll be LSU and Bama meeting again, but it won’t be the same teams or circumstances as Nov. 5.