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Preview Of BCS Bowl Game


So tomorrow night for the first time in the history of the Bowl Championship Series, two teams from the same conference, the Southeastern Conference, the two best teams in college football, Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama, will face off in the BCS National Championship in New Orleans. Who's going to win? Well, to help us answer that question, Mike Pesca joins me now.

Mike, these two teams actually played each other back in November. LSU beat Alabama back then. So this has got to be the rematch that Alabama's been waiting for.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Well, sure, because there was some question whether Alabama would be invited to play in this game, and there were two arguments against it. One argument was they already had their shot, but there's another argument about it, and that's made by computers. And the computers, not the human voters, they actually said that Oklahoma State should have been playing in this game. But so many human voters said, you know what, that game between Alabama and LSU was so close, and we happen to think that Alabama has the next best team.

I kind of like the fact that it's a rematch just because we have a frame of reference. And NFL games, you know, Super Bowls, sometimes they're a rematch, but at least everyone plays the same group of 31 other teams. This time, they know each other very well, and I think that adds to the drama.

RAZ: So, Mike, tomorrow night, who should we be looking out for?

PESCA: Guy, I like cake, and I like steak. But I don't want just eat cake.

RAZ: Right.

PESCA: And so far, in these bowl games, I have gotten cake. I have gotten dessert, which is offense. And all the college football fans have gotten so many games where the scoring has been so high - Oklahoma State and Stanford, those two teams totaled for 79 points. We just saw West Virginia put up 70 points. It's so sweet that I'm not even getting the sustenance of defense.

RAZ: Yeah. This is like a glucose overdose. This is going to be a low-scoring game?

PESCA: It will. The last one was. And one of the reasons it was low scoring was Alabama missed three field goals. But I would say having watched that game, it did seem that Alabama was better at moving the ball against LSU.

RAZ: Ha.

PESCA: Although once Alabama got into - deep into LSU territory, the majority of their plays went for negative yards.

RAZ: Mike, let me ask you about this conference, this Southeastern Conference, because I believe - and correct me if I'm wrong - this is one of the most lucrative football conferences in the country. They signed a huge TV deal. You've got two teams from that conference playing against each other. People who run that conference must be thrilled about that from a financial perspective.

PESCA: Right. The SEC is geographically a hotbed of football with teams in the South. Now they're actually stretching their tentacles to - in the future, include teams from the Midwest and the Southwest. Right now, the SEC is sort of like the Goldman Sachs of college football.

RAZ: Every year, of course, there's always the question of whether the BCS system is the right way to go, or should college football go towards a system like college basketball where you've got brackets and teams play against each other, there's an elimination and a final four and a winner. What do you think? I mean, is this system ever going to be reformed?

PESCA: It might never be reformed. The biggest argument that people use to defend the system is that it makes every regular season game meaningful. So with college football, they say, every game is meaningful.

RAZ: Ah.

PESCA: The season could be lost in week two. But look at this game. Alabama lost already. How is that game meaningful? They got their second chance. You know, this is standing what is usually the best argument for this system on its head.

RAZ: All right. So cake, but probably more steak tomorrow night. That's NPR's Mike Pesca in New York for us. Mike, thanks so much.

PESCA: Bon appetite. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.