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 NEW ORLEANS (AP) -LSU played like a juggernaut when the season began, defeating eventual bowl teams Mississippi State and Virginia Tech by a combined score of 93-7 in its first two games.
Even while hampered by key injuries in midseason, the only games LSU lost were in triple overtime to Southeastern Conference foes with winning records.
The Tigers have had five weeks to get healthy for the BCS title game on Monday, meaning they'll be too much for Ohio State.
Here's why:
es guessing. Perrilloux threw for 694 yards and 8 TDs and rushed for 203 yards and 2 TDs.
RBs: If they're lucky, most teams have two effective running backs. LSU has five: Jacob Hester, Keiland Williams, Charles Scott, Richard Murphy and the small but incredibly fast Trindon Holliday. Hester is the man with over 1,017 yards and 11 TDs, and with the other four helped LSU average 219 yards on the ground.
WRs: This group needed experience and got it when Early Doucet went out with a groin injury early in the season. Junior college transfer Demetrius Byrd developed into a legitimate big-play threat, as he showed in LSU's comeback against Alabama and with his game-winning catch against Auburn. Meanwhile, Doucet is back healthy for one last game before heading to the NFL as a likely first-round draft choice. Don't overlook tight end Richard Dickson (28 catches, three TDs). Flynn loves throwing to him.
Line: Junior center Brett Helms (6-2, 270) leads an experienced and powerful offensive front that includes Herman Johnson (6-7, 351), Carnell Stewart (6-5, 320) Ciron Black (6-5, 320) and Lyle Hitt (6-2, 299). Hester credits their development with the running game's effectiveness.
Offensive summary: LSU is very balanced and very deep. When the Tigers are on, it's a busy night for the scoreboard operator.
Secondary: Very experienced and very good. Senior cornerbacks Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon can handle a lot of man-to-man coverage, while senior safety Craig Steltz has a nose for the ball and comes up in the running game to deliver pad-cracking hits. All of them are NFL prospects and together they intercepted 13 passes this season.
Linebackers: Senior Ali Highsmith was a second-team All-American and a Butkus Award semifinalist. Junior Darry Beckwith has been in on more than 130 tackles in the past two seasons.
Line: Despite missing parts of games this season because of injuries, Glenn Dorsey was a first-team All-American and he won the Outland, Lombardi, Lott and Nagurski trophies. Is there any need to say more? Senior DE Kirston Pittman is in his second title game with LSU. After missing two seasons with injury, he returned and had a team-leading seven sacks.
Defensive summary: When they were healthy early in the season, the Tigers knocked starting quarterbacks out of the game in each of their first five contests. They'll make it a long night for OSU quarterback Todd Boeckman.
Special teams: Holliday returns kickoffs, with speed - he was second in the NCAA 100 meters, which he has run in an LSU record 10.02 seconds - to go the distance if he gets daylight. He had a 98-yard TD return this season. Sure-handed Doucet is available for punt returns. Colt David made six field goals longer than 40 yards and was first-team All-SEC.
Coach: Les Miles is known as a gambler because he runs fake field goals and likes to go for it on fourth down, but he picks his spots and has the athletes and senior leadership to execute. True, they lost two games in triple overtime, but the Tigers are tested in pressure-packed games.
Intangibles: This is the Tigers' fourth bowl game this decade in the Louisiana Superdome - a 90-minute drive from the LSU campus - and they have won the previous three. In his two seasons as head coach, Miles has led LSU to a 40-3 win over Miami in the Peach Bowl and to a 41-14 win over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. Flynn also has bowl experience, having started for then-injured JaMarcus Russell in the Peach Bowl.
Bottom line: By trouncing Ohio State in last season's title game, Florida showed the SEC holds key speed and talent advantages over the Big 10. Ohio State is 0-8 against SEC teams in bowl games. LSU will continue that tradition.
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