Everybody already knows about players like Trent Richardson and Tyrann Mathieu, and they are sure to play a major role when the No. 1 LSU Tigers meet the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide in the BCS National Championship Game. It isn't always a big-name player that decides a big game, however.
In every sport there have been anonymous players who have either come up big or small in a title game in important moments. In all likelihood, one or more unheralded players will have that type of chance on Jan. 9. Here are three little-known players that will be major deciding factors in the BCS National Championship Game.
RB Alfred Blue, LSU
While the two-headed monster of Michael Ford and Spencer Ware have carried the LSU offense for much of the season, a new player has emerged in recent weeks. Sophomore running back Alfred Blue is a 6'2", 215-lb. bruiser who has rushed for 287 yards and three touchdowns in his past three games played. The impressive thing is that he has done so without getting more than nine carries in a game.
With so many great players in the backfield, Blue often gets lost in translation. Blue wasn't used at all when the Tigers beat the Tide 9-6 earlier in the season, but I think that will change in the national championship game. If anybody can run through the rough-and-tumble Alabama defense it's Blue, and I believe he will get a chance to prove it.
K Cade Foster, Alabama
When it comes to field goals from less than 40 yards, the Crimson Tide have one of the most accurate kickers in college football in Jeremy Shelley. The issue, however, is that Shelley simply doesn't have the range to kick field goals much longer than that. Because of that, Alabama likes to use Cade Foster from long range.
Foster may have the range to get the ball there from beyond 40 yards, but his accuracy is severely lacking as evidenced by his 22 percent conversion rate this season. His biggest failure came earlier in the year against LSU as he made one of two field goals from 40 to 49 yards, and missed both attempts from beyond 50 yards. Because of how good LSU's defense is the Tide will likely have to settle for some long field goals, that means that Foster will have to be much better.
Which player will have the biggest impact on the National Championship Game?
P Brad Wing, LSU
He may not have been a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, but I don't think it is a stretch to call Brad Wing the best punter in college football. Wing averaged over 44 yards per punt this season and routinely pinned opponents inside their own 20. As good as the Tigers' defense has been all year long, one of the reasons for that is Wing putting them in a position to succeed.
In what is sure to be a defensive battle, field position will be of the utmost importance in the title game. This puts Wing at the forefront since he can flip the field in LSU's favor and force Alabama to start deep inside its own territory. If Wing kicks the way he has all season long, then it will give the Tigers a major advantage that could be invaluable.