The BCS National Championship Game will have a lot of key plays and players that go into deciding the eventual outcome. However, no player will have a bigger say, by the plays that he will make, than LSU’s cornerback, Tyrann Mathieu.
Mathieu, or should I say the Honey Badger, will have such a big game in helping the LSU Tigers capture their second BCS National Championship Game and third BCS National Championship since 2003, that it will make him the favorite to win next year’s Heisman Trophy.
Coming into the title game, Mathieu’s last two games have seen the talented cornerback have 12 solo tackles. However, what is more impressive is that he has two punt returns for touchdowns that sprung the Tigers to victories over Arkansas and Georgia in the SEC Championship game.
Those punt returns to lead the Tigers to finish the 2011 regular season with a perfect 12-0 record and helped the sophomore earn a trip to New York City for this year’s Heisman Trophy presentation.
Mathieu didn’t win the trophy, finishing fifth among the final voting. However, Mathieu was the only sophomore to be among the 11 finalists and is the only person, aside from Matt Barkley, who is guaranteed to come back to compete for the Heisman next year.
In the first meeting between Alabama and LSU, Mathieu didn’t have a breakout game.
He actually stayed rather quiet with only five total tackles, four solo, and no punt returns.
While Mathieu did not have a chance to break the game open in Tuscaloosa, he still found a way to lock down Alabama receivers by helping the LSU secondary to not allow an Alabama wide receiver to gain over 70 yards.
The only Alabama player to crack over 70 yards in that game was running back Trent Richardson, who had 80 yards in the game. However, 39 of those yards came on one play. So if you take away that long play, Richardson was held to a pedestrian 41 receiving yards.
Mathieu will have one of those games where he finishes with six total tackles, five of them being solo, with a forced fumble.
That would be enough to make him the hottest Heisman candidate coming into the 2012 season. However, Mathieu will break the game open in the second quarter with a punt return that ignites the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
After that punt return, the Honey Badger phenomena will be what everyone is talking about coming into the next college football season as the favorite to win the Heisman over USC’s Matt Barkley.