James Laurinaitis of Ohio State James Laurinaitis of Ohio State

It was a season where the rankings were shaken up more than a snow globe on Christmas Eve and no team could hang on to the No. 2 spot (seven losses, six to unranked teams). The topsy-turvy campaign comes to an end Monday as LSU (11-2), the first team with two losses to play in the title game, takes on top-ranked Ohio State (11-1) in the BCS Championship Game (Jan. 7, 8:15 pm/ET, Fox) in New Orleans. “It’s actually been an unbelievable year,” says Fox analyst Charles Davis, who’ll be joined in the booth by Thom Brennaman. “This all started with Boise State knocking off Oklahoma last Jan. 1" in the '07 Fiesta Bowl.

At the end of the regular season, there were a number of teams that thought they deserved a berth in this game over Louisiana State. One of them, Oklahoma, went down — hard — to West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl last Wednesday, but two others (Southern Cal and Georgia) came up with convincing cases in lopsided wins at the Rose and Sugar Bowls, respectively, on New Years Day. Davis has no complaints with this year’s Bowl Championship Series line-up. “Based on the system we have, they got the right teams,” he says.

The strength of both squads is defense: the Buckeyes rank first nationally and LSU third. But Davis believes the key to the game is LSU’s ability to recuperate, both physically and emotionally. “They dominated at the start of the season, but with the wars in the SEC they had a murderer’s row of opponents; and they thought they were out of this thing two different times.” Meanwhile, the Buckeyes, 0-8 all-time against the SEC in bowl games, and routed by Florida in last year’s BCS title game, get a chance to quiet their critics after hearing for a year that they can’t compete with speedy, athletic teams. Says Davis: “I think that has to work to OSU’s advantage."

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