New Orleans - The College Football Championship Capital

00:00 December 15, 2011
By: Kristal Blue
[Courtesy of Jonathan Bachman]

New to the four-year Bowl Championship Series rotation, a bowl tradition and a young bowl that always presents interesting games, New Orleans is the capital of the college football universe and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is the Mecca.

No other city in the country can match the three bowl games that New Orleans has to offer.
The city's bowl trifecta all started with the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl between Louisiana-Lafayette (9-3) and San Diego State (8-4), which was played on Dec. 17, the first day of bowl competition.

The first New Orleans Bowl was played in 2001 when Colorado State defeated North Texas 45-20 in front of 27,004.
The All-State Sugar Bowl will be played on Jan. 3 between traditional powerhouses Michigan (10-2) and Virginia Tech (11-2).

After a few seasons out of prominence, Michigan, the winningest program in NCAA FBS history, is back under first-year coach Brady Hoke. Quarterback Denard Robinson is one of the top running and passing threats in the country. The Wolverines haven't won a bowl game since 2007.

Virginia Tech is making its fourth Sugar Bowl appearance since 1995. Running back David Wilson, who rushed for 1,627 yards and nine touchdowns, was named Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year.

And then there is the BCS championship game between No. 1 LSU (13-0) and No. 2 Alabama (11-1) on Jan. 9 that has the entire country talking and the state of Louisiana buzzing.

There have been years when the teams playing in the BCS championship game was very debatable, but this time few can argue against LSU and Alabama being the best two teams in the country.

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is the head of the college football universe.

New Orleans is the only city in the country with three bowl games during the holiday season

BCS Title Fight
The Tigers VS. The Crimson Tide

If life and the movies have taught us anything it is this: Greatness is never guaranteed when it comes to sequels.
For every "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" there is "Staying Alive." "The Godfather Part II" is offset by "Caddyshack II." And as great as "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" was, who wants to remember "Blues Brothers 2000" unless they are still receiving royalties from the venture.

The Bowl Championship Series is giving college football fans a sequel in Alabama-LSU II in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to decide the national championship, and, well, cross your fingers.
LSU coach Les Miles voted for a rematch in the coaches' poll.

"I had to vote for Alabama, because I felt that was the honest vote," Miles said.

Needless to say, Alabama coach Nick Saban cast his vote in the coaches' poll for a rematch.

"Our players and everyone associated with our program are very excited about the opportunity to play in the national championship game," Saban said. "We are very appreciative of the chance to play an LSU team that we have tremendous respect for and we are looking forward to the challenge."

There is little arguing that LSU (13-0) and Alabama (11-1) are the two best teams in the country. All of the human and computer polls are in agreement on that, and they have been for weeks.

Alabama (191.25 yards per game) and LSU (252.08) even rank first and second, respectively, in total defense in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision statistical rankings.

Both teams have had great seasons.

LSU is off to its first 13-0 record in school history. Sophomore cornerback/return specialist Tyrann Mathieu, who played at St. Augustine High School, was one of the finalists for the Heisman Memorial Trophy. Miles was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. Defensive coordinator John Chavis even became the first LSU assistant coach to win the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach.

The Tigers won 12 games by 10 points or more.

Alabama is trying for its second BCS National Championship since finishing 14-0 in 2009. Junior running back Trent Richardson was selected as a finalist for the Heisman. Junior offensive lineman Barrett Jones won the 2011 Wuerffel Trophy, which is named in honor of former University of Florida and New Orleans Saints quarterback Danny Wuerffel and goes to the FBS player that best combines exemplary community service with academic and athletic achievement.

But it's LSU's 9-6 overtime victory against Alabama on Nov. 5 in Bryant-Denny Stadium that casts kind of a shadow over this game for the national championship.

That game will affect how both teams play in the rematch.

"The first place we start is the first game where we played them," Miles said. "It might be rendered as different. I think there will be some similarities and some contrasting styles."
So, what if Alabama-LSU II isn't as good as the original?

Who cares? The only thing LSU and their fans care about are winning the national championship - that's the bottom line.

And ultimately the bottom line is how all sequels are judged.

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