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2008 BCS Championship Position Breakdown

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 6, 2008


The two programs are dead-even record-wise over the last five years, and after Monday night, one team will be the first to own two BCS championships. How do the two teams match up? Here's the unit-by-unit breakdown of the two powerhouses.

BCS Championship Breakdown

Ohio State vs. LSU, Jan. 7, 2008


QUARTERBACK
Ohio State
- Todd Boeckman had a solid season taking over for Troy Smith with 23 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions, but he threw four interceptions in the last two games including a three-pick effort in the loss to Illinois. He's not a runner, but he's not immobile and should be able to move around a little bit against the LSU pass rush.
LSU - Matt Flynn gutted it out late in the year despite being hurt. While not flashy, he's rock-solid in the clutch (the two losses were hardly his fault) and it a rushing option the Buckeyes will have to pay attention to. Interceptions are an issue throwing at least one in seven straight games before tightening up late. No. 2 man Ryan Perriloux is hardly a backup having gone 20 of 30 for 243 yards and a touchdown with an interception in the SEC Championship win over Tennessee.
ADVANTAGE: LSU, by a little. The two options give the Buckeyes more to worry about while Boeckman has to prove he can handle himself in the face of a steady pass rush. Boeckman will have to do more than the LSU quarterbacks to win.

RUNNING BACK
Ohio State
- Chris "Beanie" Wells was one of the nation's steadiest, most productive backs throughout the year, even if he somehow flew under the radar. With an NFL-perfect blend of speed and power, the 6-1, 235-pound sophomore a do-it-all back who can hit the home run and pound away as a workhorse. Maurice Wells is a veteran reserve who can catch, but he likely won't be used unless disaster strikes.
LSU - The star of a crowded backfield is bruising fullback Jacob Hester, who can kill a defense by pounding away for yards in chunks. Keiland Williams is a speed back with 226-pound size. Charles Scott was little used, but has the ability to breakout with a few carries. 5-5 Trindon Holliday might be the fastest player in college football. He'll get the ball in a variety of ways to get him into space.
ADVANTAGE: LSU, by a little. It's all about options. Beanie is the most talented back in the game by far, but LSU has a slew of runners who can be effective in a rotation. If Wells isn't on, Ohio State doesn't have any other viable options.

RECEIVERS
Ohio State
- While they might not be Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez, Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie are solid and steady. They were able to come up with big plays against average teams, but they need to prove they can light up a secondary as good as LSU's. Rory Nichol is a good blocker and a decent receiver, but the junior tight end wasn't used in the passing game late in the year.
LSU - Long on talent and short on big-time production, the receiving corps didn't take off until Early Doucet got over a groin injury late in the year. He's the gamebreaker who could change the game all by himself. Leading receiver Brandon LaFell is fine, but nothing special, while junior Demetrius Byrd, who led the team with seven touchdown catches, could be the unsung weapon if the Buckeyes worry about Doucet. Tight end Richard Dickson was a nice, unheralded target who caught 28 passes for 331 yards and three scores.
ADVANTAGE: Ohio State, by a little. If Doucet is on, LSU could have the advantage. Hartline and Robiskie will be great if things are going well and Todd Boeckman has time, but they'll disappear for stretches.

OFFENSIVE LINES
Ohio State
- Tremendous all season long, this is easily one of the five best lines in the country. Tackles Kirk Barton and Alex Boone are special, with the 6-6, 300-pound Barton the better of the two, while the interior grew better and better as the year went on. Few lines were better in pass protection.
LSU - It wasn't as good as it should've been. Massive 6-7, 356-pound junior Herman Johnson is a killer at left guard, and Ciron Black will grow into an NFL caliber tackle, but the line, overall, should have problems with Ohio State's speed up front. If this group isn't pounding away for the running game, it could potentially be the weak link. If the line dominates, LSU will win in a walk.
ADVANTAGE: Ohio State. The Buckeyes have to at least hold even with the terrific LSU defensive front, while LSU's front five has to figure out how to keep Vernon Gholston out of the backfield and has to control the running game from the start.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Ohio State
- Vernon Gholston single-handedly destroyed the Michigan offense and cranked out four sacks against Wisconsin, but consistency was a problem. The young front four got into the backfield, and held firm throughout the year against the run, but it got pushed around late by Illinois and has to prove it can old up against LSU's massive O line.
LSU - Glenn Dorsey and USC's Sedrick Ellis were the two best tackles in the country, and Dorsey was doing it with a bad knee and back. Now that he's healthy, this could be the jaw-dropping, Miami-must-take-him performance everyone's been waiting for since the cheap shot on his knee against Auburn. Tyson Jackson has all the NFL tools, but had a disappointing junior year. DT Marlon Favorite and DE Kirston Pittman should shine with all the attention paid to a healthy Dorsey.
ADVANTAGE: LSU. If Gholston is neutralized, Ohio State's defense could have problems. A healthy Dorsey makes the already tremendous LSU line truly scary.

LINEBACKERS
Ohio State
- James Laurinaitis has been saying he's coming back for his senior year, but that could quickly change. Likely a top ten pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, if he comes out, he'll have to clean up several messes if the LSU running game is rolling. Don't blame him for the loss to Florida; he cranked out 15 tackles and was one of the few playmakers. Marcus Freeman and Larry Grant don't get their due publicity with all the attention paid to Laurinaitis, but they're disruptive forces.
LSU - Ali Highsmith is a slightly undersized terror in the backfield. With all the attention paid to the LSU defensive line, Highsmith has to be accounted for on every play. Darry Beckwith is finally healthy after being banged up over the second half of the year, and he should have double-digit tackles in the middle. The combination of players on the strongside are average.
ADVANTAGE: Ohio State. Highsmith and a healthy Beckwith will be fantastic, but the Buckeye linebacking corps is special.

SECONDARY
Ohio State
- Malcolm Jenkins is the star of the nation's best pass defense with size, fantastic closing speed, and first round talent. Donald Washington, back in the mix after his suspension, isn't too far behind. The safeties, Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell don't get much press, but they're strong hitters.
LSU - Craig Steltz might have been the nation's best defensive back this year. With a nose for the ball both in the air and on the ground, he's always making big plays and is always around the ball. The corners are great, but they're not as good as they get credit for. Senior Chevis Jackson will be an NFL starter, but he can be beaten.
ADVANTAGE: Ohio State, by a little. Was the secondary so good because of the pass rush or was the pass rush effective because the secondary was closing everyone down? A little of both. This will be one of the key areas for OSU; can the safeties handle the LSU deep speed?

SPECIAL TEAMS
Ohio State
- PK Ryan Pretorius is among the best in the country. Three of his four misses were blocks. Punter A.J. Trapasso is a weapon who can bail the offense out of any bad situation. Brian Hartline is an effective, but not sensational punt returner, while kickoff returns have been a disaster.
LSU - The kicking game is one of the few in America good enough to match up with Ohio State's, but as good as PK Colt David was, will the coaching staff trust him to hit a 40-yarder in crunch time? The return game was miserable, but Trindon Holliday and Early Doucet have the speed to break open any game with a little bit of room to move.
ADVANTAGE: Ohio State. The kicking game is a little bit better and the punt return game is a wee bit more effective.

COACHING
Ohio State
- Jim Tressel remains one of the elite of the elite big-game coaches. The Florida loss was a major blemish on an otherwise spotless record, and he and his staff aren't going to let that happen again.
LSU - Les Miles might be the best coach-from-the-gut game managers around. Not given much credit as an X and O guy, almost all his big gambles paid off this year. Now that the Michigan soap opera is in the past, he's been able to focus on the task at hand.
ADVANTAGE: Ohio State. Miles has been terrific since showing up in Baton Rouge taking what Nick Saban started and making the program even better, but Tressel has grown into an all-time great.