The temperature is always pretty high in this league.
But with the rematch now a reality, let’s take a closer look through our Hot and Not lens:
Alabama angst: Outside the state of Alabama, the Crimson Tide aren’t exactly riding a wave of popularity right now around the college football world. Never mind that Alabama has an outstanding football team. Nick Saban and the Tide are sort of seen as the villains of the college football world because Alabama is getting a second shot at LSU in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game without winning its conference championship. The unwritten rule is that a team shouldn’t even factor into the national championship equation if it doesn’t win its conference title. But, then, if it was such a big deal, why is it an unwritten rule? Why is it not part of BCS policy? The answer: Because the BCS’s only purpose is to match the top two teams in college football and not the top two teams who won their conference championships.
The Honey Badger: Has there ever been a better nickname in college football? Has there ever been a player who has a better knack for finding the ball and making things happen? LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu has four touchdowns in 12 games and hasn’t played a snap of offense this season. He truly is a special football player.
Unreasonable Georgia fans: Before the SEC championship game was even over last Saturday, some so-called Georgia fans started venting about how Mark Richt simply wasn’t the guy to take the Bulldogs to that next level. The last time I checked, Georgia has a chance to win 11 games, won 10 in a row this season and will be a top 15 team to start next season. I’d say Richt has earned a chance to stick around for a while.
LSU coach Les Miles: Not only has he done a masterful job of getting the Tigers to the BCS National Championship game despite a killer schedule and a rash of off-the-field issues, but he was as stand-up as it gets about having to play Alabama for a second time. Miles said simply, “If you have to be picking No. 1 vs. No. 2, I think they’ve done that best.”
LSU’s first-half offense: Senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson struggled to complete anything, and the Tigers were held without a first down in the first half of the SEC championship game. Give credit to Georgia’s defense, which was rock-solid. But a similar offensive performance in the first half against Alabama might be too much for the Tigers to overcome on Jan. 9.
AT&T Cotton Bowl: The Arkansas-Kansas State pairing looks like one of the most intriguing matchups of the bowl season. It’s the only SEC vs. Big 12 matchup of the postseason, and one of only four top 10 matchups.
No Boise State: There’s a lot of whining and belly-aching concerning the BCS right now and some of the bowl selections, and a lot of it’s justified. But Boise State has the biggest gripe. It’s a total crock that the Broncos aren’t playing in a BCS bowl this season.
SEC love: I can still hear a former coach in this league saying, “The wind always blows the hardest at the top of the flagpole.” Well, it’s whipping pretty good out there right now, and the SEC is sitting squarely on top of that flagpole. It’s the same position the league has been in for several years now, and the rest of the college football world has had all it can stomach with the SEC. And, now, to see the BCS National Championship Game become one big SEC party? You can bet that the SEC haters will only multiply. Meanwhile, so will the league’s collection of national championship rings.