Alabama vs. LSU, The Sequel: Score one for the insomniacs


Photo by Getty Images | LSU kicker Drew Alleman, No. 30, was the hero in the Tigers’ 9-6 overtime win against Alabama on Nov. 5, 2011. If the national championship rematch plays out similarly, Alleman’s leg may once again be the deciding factor.

Back on Dec. 1, coming off a forgettable November, my bankroll stood at $6,572. At that point, I promised to deliver a December to remember. Well, I’m happy to report that over the last four weeks, I posted a 29-15-1 record, boosting my bankroll to … $6,575.

That’s right: I picked winners at a 64 percent clip over a four-week stretch—for a handicapper, that’s as remarkable as Andy Reid, Norv Turner and Jim Caldwell combining to hit 64 percent of their replay challenges—and walked away with a whopping three bucks. That’s only $599,997 less than Kim Kardashian reportedly earned for shaking her assets at a New Year’s Eve party at Tao.

Yep, looks like I’m going to have to add “visit shrink weekly” to my list of 2012 resolutions, which already include eat less and exercise more. When exactly is the world supposed to end again?

On to this week’s picks, starting with college football’s so-called national championship game.

$550 (to win $500) on LSU-Alabama UNDER 40: Like most people who reside outside Louisiana and Alabama, this BCS Championship Game excites me about as much as watching paint dry … in an exam room … of a proctologist … who has the shakes. Seriously, we’ve seen this movie already, and it was a complete dud, as the Tigers prevailed 9-6 in overtime as a 4½-point road underdog.

Look, I’ve got nothing against great defense, but two months ago these teams played 60 minutes plus two overtime possessions and managed five field goals. By comparison, Oregon and Wisconsin combined for five touchdowns in the Rose Bowl … in less than 20 minutes!

Anyway, here’s what we know about this game: Both teams, being from the SEC, know each other very well. Both have been idle for more than a month (Alabama hasn’t played since Nov. 26; LSU has been off since Dec. 3), so the offenses figure to be rusty. Both teams obviously have incredible defenses (Alabama surrenders 8.8 points per game; LSU 10.5 ppg). Both have quarterbacks that their coaches, if you hooked them up to a polygraph, would admit they don’t completely trust. And those coaches know that one mistake will probably decide this game.

One final point: Last year, two explosive teams—Auburn (42.7 ppg) and Oregon (49.3 ppg)—met for the national title. Auburn prevailed, 22-19. Two years before that, Tim Tebow of Florida (45.2 ppg) and Sam Bradford of Oklahoma (54 ppg) met up in the big game. Florida prevailed, 24-14. In other words, break out the Red Bull and put on a pot of coffee, as we’re in for another Alabama-LSU snoozer. Final score? 14-13. Who wins? Who cares.

$440 (to win $400) on Steelers -8 at Broncos: Fully aware that the only thing screwing up my golf game was a driver that’s essentially an oversize 3-wood—seriously, Phil Mickelson would struggle to get 200 yards out of this thing—my wife and kids got me a sweet TaylorMade Burner for Christmas. It was the best gift I received this holiday season … that is, until the NFL gods lined up this playoff matchup of Tebow vs. the Steelers defense!

In the last 11 quarters of the regular season, Denver got outscored 81-27 … and that’s the good news. The bad: In those three games against defenses that ranged from mediocre (Kansas City) to horrendous (Buffalo and New England), Tebow put up the following stat line: 30-for-73 (that’s 41 percent) for 439 yards and one TD pass with four picks and five fumbles (three lost).

Pittsburgh is 6-1 since mid-November, with the always-stout defense yielding just 65 points over that span (9.3 ppg). Shockingly, that defense ranked dead last in takeaways this season with 16. Think Troy Polamalu & Co. are eager to rectify that against Tebow? Also, Pittsburgh is 9-2 against the spread in its last 11 playoff games.

$220 (to win $200) on Saints -10½ vs. Lions: The Saints finished the season with eight straight victories and—more impressively—eight straight spread covers. They went 8-0 at home, and—more impressively—8-0 ATS. One of those home wins: 31-17 over Detroit a month ago.

The Lions defense has surrendered 30 ppg over the last eight weeks, and in the season finale at Green Bay—a game it had to win to avoid a return trip to New Orleans—Detroit let the Packers’ quarterback (playing in frigid conditions) throw for 480 yards and six TDs in a 45-41 win. That quarterback? Aaron Rodgers’ backup, Matt Flynn. Gee, just what Drew Brees needs this season: more passing records!

BEST OF THE REST: Falcons +3 at Giants ($88); Kansas State +7½ vs. Arkansas, Cotton Bowl ($66); Lions-Saints OVER 59 ($55); Texans -3 vs. Bengals ($44).

DEC. 15 RESULTS: 3-0 (+$640); DEC. 22 RESULTS (with one play pending): 8-6 (-$716); Bankroll: $6,575.