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A debated rematch

Play it again, LSU and Alabama.

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The Crimson Tide edged out Oklahoma State in the final round of voting Sunday and will play the top-ranked Tigers in the BCS national championship game on Jan. 9 in New Orleans.

Undefeated LSU is the only team to beat Alabama, and the top BCS official sees a do-over as a perfectly good title game.

"Absolutely, if they're 1 and 2, and they are in all the polls released today," executive director Bill Hancock said.

Still, it's not exactly a game the public was clamoring for — at least outside of SEC territory. And it will do nothing to quiet the critics or the calls for a college football playoff.

The SEC will run its streak of national titles to six in a row. The last time a national title was decided by a rematch of a regular-season game was 1996, when host FSU beat Florida in its final regular-season game then drew the Gators in the Sugar Bowl. Steve Spurrier's Gators beat Bobby Bowden's Seminoles 52-20 to win UF's first national championship.

The Cowboys made a late surge by beating Oklahoma 44-10 on Saturday night, and closed the gap with Alabama in the polls. But it was not enough to avoid the first title game rematch in the 14-year history of the BCS.

The Tigers (13-0) beat the Tide 9-6 in OT on Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa.

"This team loves the big stage," LSU coach Les Miles said.

"This could be a totally different type of game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "There's so many good players on both sides of the ball for both teams.

"There's so much opportunity for this game to play out completely different and have a completely different flavor."

Alabama (11-1) finished second in both the Harris and coaches' polls by a wide enough margin to make up for the fact that Oklahoma State was ahead in the computer ratings.

The Cowboys (11-1), champions of the Big 12, will play in the Fiesta Bowl against Stanford.

No BCS busters made it into the big games, teams such as Boise State, TCU or Houston, which had a chance but lost in the C-USA championship on Saturday to Southern Mississippi.

As the power-brokers begin to plot how top-tier bowls will be set up in the future, the 2011 season is exposing flaws.

Oklahoma State and Alabama, two teams with good arguments to play for a national championship, wound up fighting over one spot, with subjective voters and computer ratings — the formulas of which are not even publicly known — doing the choosing.

Alabama, with the nation's No. 1 defense, won out and will play for its second BCS crown in three years.

Oklahoma State, with one of the most potent offenses in the country, gets its first BCS appearance as a consolation prize.

"We wanted the opportunity to settle the debate that has gone all year about the offense in the Big 12 and the defense in the SEC," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "It didn't work out that way."

penn state falls to lower bowl: Penn State discovered what it had feared since former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was indicted last month on child sexual-abuse charges — that bowl committees would be reluctant to invite the Nittany Lions because of the controversy.

Though they finished tied for the fourth-best record in the Big Ten at 9-3, the Nittany Lions had to wait until the TicketCity Bowl, seventh on the list of games affiliated with the conference to select, chose them for its Jan. 2 game, against Houston in Dallas.

In a normal year, the Lions probably would have gone to the Insight Bowl, fourth in line on the list, in Tempe, Ariz. But there was no way to predict what the bowls were going to do following the Nov. 5 indictment against Sandusky.

The Lions were bypassed by three bowls that selected teams they defeated during the regular season — Iowa (Insight), Ohio State (Gator), and Northwestern (Meineke).

In a statement, Lions interim head coach Tom Bradley called the invitation "a fitting acknowledgment of the hard work, dedication, and perseverance our student-athletes have exhibited this especially challenging season."

A debated rematch 12/04/11 [Last modified: Sunday, December 4, 2011 11:46pm]
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