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Is Alabama the Reason Nobody Wants to Watch LSU vs. Georgia?

Alex Groberman

They say that you really need to be an SEC fan to be able to digest SEC football. Well, if ticket sales are any indicator, even SEC fans can’t stomach the prospect of an LSU Tigers versus Georgia Bulldogs SEC Championship showdown.

Saturday’s match-up between undefeated LSU and winners of 10-straight Georgia is widely expected to be a LSU rout, with odds makers listing the Tigers as 13.5 point favorites at the time of this piece.

As noted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, prices and interest are taking a serious nosedive leading into this weekend’s outing.

“We’ve actually seen a fairly dramatic decline in ticket prices to the game … within the last week,” said Will Flaherty, spokesman for SeatGeek.com, a ticket search aggregator.

How much are the prices dropping? Since peaking at an average of $463 back on Nov. 20, prices have fallen to an average of $135. And, interestingly enough, the biggest price drop came between this past Saturday and Sunday after LSU and Georgia officially clinched their spots in the game.

The general sentiment as to why prices are dropping like a stone at this point was echoed by Flaherty. Alabama Crimson Tide fans likely bought up a lot of tickets and were hoping that the Arkansas Razorbacks would hand LSU its first loss of the year. If that had happened, Alabama would find itself in this game. When things didn’t pan out, Crimson Tide fans flooded the market with excess tickets thereby driving down the price.

Moral of the story: blame Alabama for no one caring about Saturday’s LSU vs. Georgia battle.

Get more great sports analysis over at Opposing Views

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LSU vs. Georgia: No Lack Of Confidence On Either Side

Alex Groberman 

Heading into this week’s SEC showdown between the LSU Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs one thing is for certain: there is no lack of confidence on either side.

During a recent interview regarding the looming game, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones fired the first shot in what promises to back an interesting back-and-forth when he said that his team’s defense was “just as good, if not better” than LSU’s. Needless to say, given the fact that the Tigers have largely hung their hats on the notion that they are the best defensive team in all the land (even though the Alabama Crimson Tide is, if you go by stats), the remark was expected to generate a response.

But it didn’t.

If anything, LSU players appear so secure in the strength of their calling card that they don’t mind being a little humble – with reporters around, at least.

“He may have a point,” Tyrann Mathieu said. “I know those guys are going to go out there and play hard. I know he’s going to go out there and play a little bit extra hard. It’s just about us playing our style of football.”

It’s not as if Georgia doesn’t have a reason to be confident. Whereas the Tigers currently allow nearly 249 yards per game, the Bulldogs aren’t far behind with a similarly impressive 271 yards. The two teams rank at No. 2 and No. 5 in the nation, respectively. LSU also allows 86 yards per game rushing, whereas Georgia allows nearly 95 yards. The rank breakdown is fourth and sixth when it comes to rushing yards given up, respectively. The only real asterisk by Bulldogs’ stats is that they haven’t played as a tough a schedule as their Louisiana-based counterparts.

Then again, earning 10 consecutive wins, lighter schedule or not, is still impressive. And while defense has been absolutely instrumental in that, Georgia has also been firing on all cylinders offensively as of late. Quarterback Aaron Murray currently leads in the SEC in both touchdown passes and efficiency, and if anyone can challenge an LSU secondary that has intercepted 16 passes on the year it’s definitely him.

Not that he’s going to admit that, of course.

“It’s amazing, just how many plays they make,” Murray said. “You talk about Mathieu, you’ve got to worry about him on special teams. They’re great athletes.

“You put them in the category, when I was watching the film, of just athletes like Jarvis Jones on our team. They’re football players. They know how to go out there and make plays, and they’re exciting to watch.”

That obvious respect for what the LSU defense can do is appropriate, given the fact that it has allowed 12 touchdowns in 12 games. That, coupled with a nose for interceptions makes the unit a nightmare for any quarterback, including one as efficient as of late Murray.

The biggest question for the Tigers in this one is how their offensive production will counteract the production of the opposing offense. Both tremendous defenses notwithstanding, quarterback Jordan Jefferson’s ability to play above his 18-of-29, 208-yard, one touchdown and one interception effort versus the Arkansas Razorbacks will be key. While LSU clearly proved that they knew how to put points on the board in a hurry following an early 14-0 Arkansas lead, Jefferson remains relatively unproven this year because how dominant his team has been on the other end.

A repeat of last week’s performance from running back Kenny Hilliard — who had 102 yards and a score on 19 carries — will also be instrumental in earning a win this time around.

Ultimately, if the Tigers play the game their way and don’t allow the Bulldogs to pressure them, they should emerge victorious in this one.

As admirable Georgia’s confidence is, and as impressive as the 10-game winning streak undeniably has been, the better team typically wins in college football.

LSU is that better team.

The game kicks off at 4:00 p.m. eastern time, Saturday.

Get more sports analysis over at Opposing Views.

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Les Miles Doesn’t Need Two Quarterbacks

Alex Groberman

Can we put an end to this ridiculous charade already? LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles clearly does not want, nor particularly need to play two quarterbacks. The only reason he has been resigned to doing so is because of the hand he was dealt before the year even started – what with Jordan Jefferson’s untimely preseason incident.

As we all saw in LSU’s 42-9 rout of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Saturday, Jefferson always was and always will be the quarterback of choice for Miles. In that particular outing, Jefferson made his first official start and played 42 of 59 total snaps.

His counterpart Jarrett Lee, on the flip side, only got into the game with about 12 minutes left. He played the last 17 plays – the epitome of garbage time.

Going into the game versus Western Kentucky, Lee had been announced as the supposed pregame starter. When that didn’t end up happening, the natural assumption was that he was replaced by Jefferson as a reprimand for something that had occurred.

According to Miles, however, that was not the case. Rather, he pulled Lee in favor of Jefferson because of “practice performance,” and not any sort of disciplinary action.

So be it.

With the team sitting on a 10-0 record and the BCS title game so clearly within grasp, though, maybe it’s time to stop politicking with the players. Obviously Miles doesn’t want to create any tension in an otherwise harmonious locker room by picking one passer over the other. At the same time, the uncertainty that comes with not knowing who your leader is from week to week grates on an offense’s nerves – and LSU’s offense is no exception.

Look, Lee has been solid in his unexpected role this year – there is no denying that. Up until the Tigers’ win versus the Alabama Crimson Tide, you could easily make the case that he had earned the starting spot. But when he only got 11 snaps to Jefferson’s 47 in that absolutely vital season-making game, the writing was on the wall.

Jefferson isn’t perfect. He’s not a great passer and his more lengthy attempts — while continuously improving — still aren’t up to par. He also seems intent on holding on to the ball way too long, as most mobile, evasive quarterbacks tend to do.

At the same time, he does exactly what the LSU offense needs him to do. He can be moderately efficient as he was against Western Kentucky with his eight-of-14, 168 yard showing. He can evade the pass rush. And, most importantly, the players trust him more in crunchtime situations than they do Lee, as has been made clear time after time this season.

On Monday, Miles played the usual games with reporters, building up both quarterbacks’ self-esteems.

“We need both,” Miles said. “We’ll use both.”

LSU certainly doesn’t need both. LSU hopefully won’t use both. And, the quicker everyone realizes that this is true, the less unfortunate tension there will be in the locker room of this year’s probable national champions.

 Get more great analysis over at Opposing Views

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Les Miles On Penn State: “I Know They’ll Do The Right Thing”

Alex Groberman

The current alleged child molestation scandal rocking Penn State is like radioactive waste that nobody really wants to get near.

If you approach the matter rationally and admonish the school and its operatives for their complete and total incompetence, you’ll probably get your media van turned over by these nutjobs. If you try to play Devil’s Advocate for a school and group of people who — by all accounts — at best idly sat back and watched and at worst covered up alleged child rape – then you’ll feel the rest of the world’s wrath.

So with that lose-lose proposition, is it any wonder that coaches and various college football big name figures are doing their best to avoid discussing the matter? Of course not.

Fortunately, LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles isn’t one to shirk away from the limelight. Understanding his duty and responsibility, as a representative of the university for whom he coaches to comment on the matter, Miles had this to say on the happenings at Penn State:

“The only thing I can tell you is that I think everybody in America — football coach or not — is probably first and foremost concerned with the well being of the young people that were involved,” Miles said. “And if there’s any way that that can be addressed first and foremost, that might well take precedence over any other piece. I think that the great coach at Penn State (Paterno) certainly has a distinguished coaching career. The only thing I hope is that all is done right as best as they can from this point forward.”

If only Penn State had a guy with some character working for them when you-know-what hit the fan. What a foreign concept Miles introduced in his brief commentary – think of the victims. In 58 words, the LSU head coach said everything that Penn State officials should have said following the scandal breaking, and a mantra they should have lived by 10 years ago when they were first allegedly made aware of what was going on under their very noses.

“It’s a great school and a great tradition and there’s a wonderful backdrop to Penn State, but the game is not necessarily as important as the things that went on there,” Miles added. “I wish them well. I know they’ll do the right thing.”

As endearing as Miles’ optimism is, it’s probably misplaced. If Penn State has proven anything thus far, it’s that its concerns on anything and everything start and end between the two endzones at Beaver Stadium.

Get more great analysis over at Opposing Views.

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