LSU vs. Alabama Rematch: 10 Players Who Will Make a Difference

Dan VastaSenior Writer IIIDecember 23, 2011

LSU vs. Alabama Rematch: 10 Players Who Will Make a Difference

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    Although we are still a few weeks away from the BCS National Championship, it only allows us more time to break down and analyze this heavyweight matchup.

    There are over a dozen NFL-caliber players just on defense, and I could give you an NFL perception at some other time, but that is not what is going to decide this game.

    There are several X-factors in this game, and I here are 10 of them. I list five studs from each team in the BCS National Championship who will ultimately decide whether their team will be enjoying the thrill of victory or suffering the agony of defeat!

A.J. McCarron, Alabama

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    Throwing for 2,400 yards and 16 TDs are not great numbers by any means, but the Alabama signal caller has not needed to do much this season.

    A.J. is fully capable of threading the needle and taking what the Bayou Bengals defense gives him. We shouldn’t be all shocked if he plays a lot better than he did in the first matchup, because he has since improved severely since the early part of November.

    A turnover-free game from Alabama’s quarterback could make the difference in winning the national championship.

Brad Wing, LSU

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    The AP, CBS, Scout and SI All-American could make a huge difference once again. He booted an 80-yard punt in the first meeting between the Tigers-Tide, and he can flip the field on any given punt.

    Wing ranks 13th in the nation, averaging 44 yards per punt, and has been sensational pinning teams inside the 10-yard line.

    One single Wing punt could arguably put the Crimson Tide in an awful situation that could lead to a game-changing moment.

Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

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    One of the finer corners in the game will be overlooked because LSU has not one, but two first-team All-Americans.

    Kirkpatrick is not thrown to very often, and his nine pass deflections/breakups do not tell half the story. He can explode into the backfield to make a big defensive stand and is lanky enough to make up a ton of ground.

Rueben Randle, LSU

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    The leading receiver on the Tigers is Rueben Randle, as he leads the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns. The numbers are not even close as he has over 400 yards, four TDs and 14 receptions more than the next player on the team.

    Randle is an NFL prospect despite only being a junior, and he is going to need to win individual battles against a talented Alabama secondary to help LSU avoid eight-to-nine-man fronts. 

Michael Williams, Alabama

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    Williams played a large role as he was unable to come down (so it appeared it was taken away) with a pass at the goal line.

    Eric Reid took it away and it was easily the single most important play of regulation since the game did go into overtime. Williams is one of McCarron’s top targets and is the security blanket that could give LSU some across the middle of the field. 

Morris Claiborne, LSU

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    Mathieu may be more explosive, but Mo can bring back kicks as well, and he is without a shadow of a doubt the best defensive back in the entire country.

    He will be matched up against Mr. Maze for most of the night, and they could be in great position to win their third BCS National Championship if they can come away with a turnover or two.

Mark Barron, Alabama

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    Another first-team All-American, Barron lays the wood wherever he ends up being. He loves to come off the edge and light up a ball carrier or the quarterback.

    He is the king of bone-crushing hits and can knock you out. He can jar a ball loose when thrown over the middle, and it is not safe to attempt to run over the superstar safety.

    If Barron gets a clean hit on LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson, he not only could bring him down, but force a fumble and turn around the entire game. Barron is one of the ultimate game-changers who can be the lone difference in this heavyweight matchup.

Kenny Hilliard, LSU

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    Hilliard has been a bulldozer and he has been unstoppable down the stretch of the season.

    LSU uses three other ball carriers besides Hilliard, but he is the touchdown vulture that has helped avoid LSU from being forced to kick field goals.

    If Kenny keeps running downhill against a stout Crimson Tide defense, the fourth-quarter touchdown or long run could give LSU the slightest of edges.

Trent Richardson, Alabama

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    The Doak Walker winner had a great game against LSU despite reaching paydirt. He accounted for 169 yards of offense and is the vital part of the Alabama offense.

    The Tide do not have many game-breakers going for them right now, and Richardson would easily be your top candidate to carry this offense.

    Outside of a swing pass where he almost headed for daylight, he was held in check against LSU. Both defenses do not give up home-run plays, but Richardson may be due for a long run.

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

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    The “Honey Badger” is arguably the most explosive player on either side of the ball, and he can make a large impact on any given play.

    He could bring back a punt or make a huge strip and/or sack. Even if he cannot bring back a punt to the house, he can give the Bayou Bengals great field of position based on the fact that Alabama may kick away from him.

    Assuming Mathieu does not have the opportunity to do much on returns, LSU should win the battle of field position. Ohio State-Miami and USC-Texas were legendary games, but this one could rank high up on the list as well.