OSU football: How would Cowboys have done against LSU
Now that LSU is not the Super Team they appeared to be, maybe we should reexamine how Oklahoma State would have fared in the Big Bowl. Alabama nosed out OSU by .0086 points in the final BCS standings, then the Crimson Tide waxed LSU 21-0 Monday night.
When OSU was relegated to the Fiesta Bowl, I told Cowboy fans it was the best of both worlds. They get to play in a great bowl, the biggest in school history, against a great foe (No. 4-ranked Stanford). So go out to the desert, win the ballgame, celebrate the victory and play the martyr. All the while knowing that if the Cowboys had been sent to New Orleans, their chances of victory were tiny. Beating LSU in New Orleans seemed to be a Herculean assignment.
Not so Herculean for Alabama. The Tide made LSU look downright ordinary. Now, Alabama is uniquely suited to play well against LSU in New Orleans. For one thing, their strength matches well against LSU. The Tigers like to run the ball; the Tide is beefo up front. In two games against Bama, LSU scored six points in regulation, on two field goals, and totaled 19 first downs and 314 yards. That’s less than 10 first downs a game and 157 total yards.
But also, the environment of New Orleans was not as much of a problem for Alabama, as it was for OU in the 2003 title game and Ohio State in the 2007 title game. First off, Bama fans could get to New Orleans easily and help offset LSU’s huge numbers edge. And Bama has been dealing with LSU crazies for a century. They know the routine. Plus, New Orleans is a second home to the Crimson Tide. Been going to Sugar Bowls for 75 years.
OSU would not have been so well-suited. The Cowboys weren’t great run stuffers — the Fiesta Bowl certainly reinforced that. And OSU would have been fresh meat for the LSU/New Orleans frying pan.
But after watching LSU in the Big Bowl, it is clear that the Cowboys would have stood a chance. OSU wouldn’t have run much on LSU (the Cowboys failed to run on Stanford, which is a physical team but not in LSU’s class), but the Cowboys would have thrown it around. Brandon Weeden would have taken his lumps, but Justin Blackmon would have administered some licks himself.
I’m not totally down on LSU. I still think the Bengals were an excellent team. But I can see OSU getting to the end zone three times. I can 21, 24 points. So would LSU have scored 24 or 27 or more on OSU? Probably. I assume Jordan Jefferson wouldn’t produce the clunker of a game we saw Monday night if he had been playing a normal defense. Alabama made Jefferson look bad, and Miles showed humanity in not inserting fellow veteran Jarrett Lee. No reason to spread the misery.
But it’s not for certain. If Jefferson made some of the poor decisions he made Monday night, OSU absolutely would have taken advantage. The Cowboys, national leaders in takeaways, got two from Stanford, which had a quarterback, Andrew Luck, in another stratosphere from Jefferson. A turnover or two could have swayed the game.
LSU’s kicking game was dominated by Alabama’s. OSU’s special teams have been excellent all year. No reason to think that wouldn’t have been an edge for the Cowboys, too.
In LSU’s behalf, I think it’s only fair to point out that it’s difficult to beat a good team twice. As I’ve written several time, the history on rematches is about 50-50. Half the teams sweep, half the teams don’t. So that put the Tigers at a disadvantage. I think they would have better off mentally against OSU.
In December, when the BCS pairings came out, I would have guessed that LSU would beat OSU something like 31-21 in the Big Bowl. After watching both teams in January, I’m not as confident. I would probably pick LSU, but something like 27-24, with the game really going down to the fourth quarter.
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