There has been much debate over the Allstate Bowl Championship Series title game between LSU and Alabama. About the pitfalls of a system that pits two teams from the same conference together; whether it's right that the college football season should be decided by rematch; and if it's going to be more exciting in New Orleans than during the Tigers' 9-6 overtime win over the Tide in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5.
Chris Fowler is in the Big Easy with the acclaimed College GameDay crew for ESPN's coverage of the title tilt on Jan. 9. He believes fans will see a different kind of game on Monday night in the Superdome.
"I think you'll see more offense," Fowler said during a recent interview. "I like games like that [on Nov. 5], how precious each yard is. Still, it was also about bad offense that night."
Fowler said the quarterbacks and receivers on both sides "had opportunities, they didn't take advantage of."
He reminded how Alabama missed four field goals, and "a 6'6" tight end [Michael Williams] was out-jumped by the 6'1" [LSU] safety Eric Reid at the goal line. They missed Trent Richardson on a wheel route. If they make some of those plays, maybe Albama wins comfortably," he said.
Fowler, though, also had high praise for the Tide's opponent, which overcame a very slow start against in the SEC championship game on Dec. 3.
"You hear all week that the game doesn't mean anything [that they had a berth in the BCS championship game locked up, even if they lost], so I wasn't surprised that LSU came out sleepwalking against Georgia," said Fowler. "It's a testament to how good they are, that they ran off, what, 42 straight points."
All that being said, Fowler thinks there could be a few more points on the board this time around: "I expect both schools will have more opportunities to make plays."
Even with those prospects and the fact the SEC regular-season matchup drew over 20 million viewers for CBS, the most for a college football game on the network since 1989, Fowler, who emphasized that he doesn't make his living via Nielsen prognosticating, doesn't necessarily foresee a record ratings performance for the rematch.
"I'm curious to see. The sport is a juggernaut, but the teams have already played," said Fowler. "I love the SEC: it has earned its place atop the sport in recent years. But in my trips around the country and on social media, there is definitely some fatigue. Some people are tired of the conference."
He also mentioned that last year," there was the possibility of a high-scoring championship between Auburn and Oregon, which is a good ratings team. You had the season-long polarizing effect of Cam Newton, and the hype of his Heisman Trophy. The teams were from two different parts of the country. There seemed like there were a lot of factors that came together for that game, which was decided in the final minute. I'd be surprised if LSU-Alabama outperforms Auburn-Oregon."
The over/under on last season's championship game: ESPN scored 27.4 million viewers on Jan. 10, 2011, making it the biggest telecast in cable history.