Louisiana State University

Recently, Student Government, at the urging of government senior Alexander Dickey, began deliberating a proposal to make the Flawn Academic Center, currently open 18 hours a day Monday through Thursday for most of the semester, a 24-hour building. This is not without precedent, as the building — previously known as the Undergraduate Library — once indeed opened its doors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Back in February, we even ran a letter from Dickey lamenting the apparent decline in student services resulting from the elimination of an all-hours student center. Today, sadly, no building on campus is open to all students throughout the day and night.

Although the Perry-Castañeda Library is open 24 hours on weekdays in the middle of the semester and 24/7 closer to final examinations, a perpetual place for nocturnal and otherwise up-at-4 a.m. students to congregate is absolutely vital. We commend Student Government for bringing renewed attention to this important matter. 

A section of the library at the University of Houston already opens its doors around the clock, while Texas A&M at least does so throughout the academic week. Just in the past few days, Louisiana State University announced plans to make its library 24 hours. 

But the beauty of a 24-hour FAC study space is that the facility can easily accommodate the transition, easing resource requirements for the more expansive PCL. Students merely need a quiet space for preparation, or even just a computer. For the students who lack ownership of our electronic staple, or perhaps have checked it into a repair shop, university facilities can often be the only way to engage with the online world. For all of us who have checked our emails or text messages in the middle of the night, we should be able to empathize.

Keeping a building open for six more hours while the vast majority of us are sleeping or engaged in other nocturnal activities likely will not mean much at all to most. But it will mean the world to those who truly need the expanded service. For the sake of the 3 a.m. studier or for the student who just wants to chat with friends a few minutes after midnight, extending the hours at the FAC would change our University for the better.

Vice Provost Judith Langlois will serve as the permanent dean of the UT Graduate School. Langlois, who was appointed Thursday, has served as interim dean of graduate studies since January 2012 and will retain her post as vice provost in addition to her new appointment.

The UT Graduate School is home to more than 100 programs and more than 11,000 graduate students. It is one of the largest Ph.D.-producing institutions in the country, and is frequently ranked as the largest Hispanic Ph.D.-producing graduate school.

Langlois received her Ph.D. from Louisiana State University and went on to join the UT faculty in 1973. She was appointed vice provost in 2007, and then interim dean of the graduate school after former dean Victoria Rodriguez stepped down 18 months ago. Before her time as interim dean of graduate studies, Langlois served once as associate dean and twice as interim dean for the College of Liberal Arts.

“I never learned how to behave like an interim,” Langlois said. “I always approached interim jobs as if we’re [going to] move full steam ahead. In that sense, I don’t think anything will be different in terms of my attitude about moving things forward.”

Langlois was appointed by Provost Gregory Fenves, who said he has received immediate positive feedback from almost every dean at the University about the appointment.

“She has a vision for graduate students,” Fenves said. “She is very caring and approachable … She also worked exceptionally well with the deans of the graduate schools and colleges.”

Both Fenves and Langlois said they are excited to work together in continuing to make the graduate school competitive enough to attract the best graduate students.

“I very much look forward to working with Provost Fenves,” Langlois said. “I think he has a great vision for the University, as does President Powers. Being a part of their leadership team is very exciting, and I really look forward to working with them.”

Columbia Mishra, president of Graduate Student Assembly, has worked with Langlois since she began her tenure as assembly president last year. She said she considers Langlois a very important collaborator with the assembly.

“She definitely cares for graduate student needs,” Mishra said. “She’s a very good coach. She gives good feedback to us as we reach toward different goals … She has a good vision and passion for graduate students and graduate studies.”

Langlois said she is looking forward to taking graduate programs to the next level of excellence. Her plans to move forward include enhancing graduate school career services and creating more informative benchmarking measures. Langlois said that by providing professional development workshops and career counseling to graduate students, she hopes to inform corporate America about the wealth of talent she believes UT graduate students have. According to Langlois, creating better benchmarking measures will involve implementing external reviews to assess strengths and weaknesses of graduate programs.

“I’m excited,” Langlois said. “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

Hearings for Fisher v. University of Texas are scheduled to be given for the second time on Nov. 13 in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case was initiated by Abigail Fisher, who sued UT in 2008 after she was denied admission into the University. Fisher, who has since graduated from Louisiana State University and currently lives in Austin, claimed the University violated her right to equal protection because its admissions policy considers race as a factor for students who do not automatically qualify under the Top 10 Percent Law.

Judges Carolyn King, Patrick Higginbotham and Emilio Garza will hear oral arguments from both sides. The judges heard the case when it last reached the Fifth Circuit Court in 2009 and the appeals court originally determined the University could use race as a factor in its admissions policy.

After hearing the case in October 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in June that the Fifth Circuit Court did not apply strict scrutiny to UT’s admissions policy when it ruled in the University’s favor. In the 7-1 decision to relegate the case to a lower court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg provided the only dissent.

Applying strict scrutiny will require the court to look into whether the University’s diversity goals can be achieved without using race as a factor in admission decisions, according to Gregory Vincent, UT law professor and vice president for diversity and community engagement. 

“[UT has] to demonstrate that there are no other race-neutral ways to meet that [goal],” Vincent said. “The University feels that it met the strict scrutiny standard.” 

UT law professor Joseph Fishkin said the Supreme Court decision means the appeals court will have to more thoroughly analyze UT’s admissions policy.

“The Fifth Circuit thought it was applying strict scrutiny,” Fishkin said. “The Supreme Court basically concluded that the Fifth Circuit had been too deferential to UT about the question of whether this kind of program was really needed.” 

Fishkin added that the Fifth Circuit Court might send the case further down to the district court so that UT’s admission policy can undergo even further analysis before the Fifth Circuit makes another ruling.

Vincent said the case eventually could reach the Supreme Court a second time.

“Once the Fifth Circuit has determined those questions, I am sure there will be an appeal in whatever they decide,” Vincent said. “I am sure that the Supreme Court will have to consider that again.”

According to Vincent, the use of race in admissions has long been a point of debate in federal courts. 

In the 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case, the Supreme Court decided institutions of higher education could consider race in their admission decisions. In 1996, the Fifth Circuit ruled in the Hopwood v. Texas case that Texas universities could not use race in their admissions policy. The Hopwood ruling was overturned by a 2003 Supreme Court ruling in the Grutter v. Bollinger case. UT has since used race as a factor in its admissions policy.

In discussing the history of affirmative action cases, Vincent noted that race is not the only factor used by universities in admitting students.

“One of the things that we note from Bakke, as well as the Grutter decision, is that race is just one among many factors,” Vincent said.

According to UT spokesman Gary Susswein, law firm Latham & Watkins will again defend the University at the Fifth Circuit hearing, as it did before the Supreme Court. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott defended the University when the case first reached the Fifth Circuit.

Edward Blum, director of the Project for Fair Representation, which has represented Fisher in the case, could not be reached for comment. 

Student Government president Horacio Villarreal said the Fisher case could impact the demographical make-up at universities.

“Not only is it a case that could potentially affect students across the nation, but it could change the diversity on our campus,” Villarreal said. 

 

President William Powers Jr. stands in front of the the United States Supreme Court building with the family of Heman Sweatt. After successfully winning a lawsuit against the University in 1950, Sweatt became the first black law student to attend the University of Texas. His case would form the basis for Brown v. Board of Education for years later.

Photo Credit: Andrew Messamore | Daily Texan Staff

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court pressured UT to justify its use of race in admissions Wednesday as the justices picked apart the meaning of racial diversity in court.

Arguments in Fisher v. Texas centered on whether UT’s use of race creates essential and meaningful diversity on campus. Supporters of affirmative action, including civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton, convened in the capital to show support for UT’s position during the proceedings.

The hearing kicked off the last stretch of the legal saga of Abigail Fisher, now a graduate of Louisiana State University. UT rejected Fisher in 2008 and she later sued the University, claiming her right to equal protection was violated because race was a factor in her application.

Fisher attended the hearing and issued a brief statement supporting her case when arguments concluded. A decision on the case is expected sometime next year.

Bert Rein, Fisher’s counsel, said he did not intend to challenge the current precedent that race may be used to further diversity — a position affirmed in the court’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003.

Instead, Rein said he intended to challenge Grutter’s “unlimited mandate” to use race classifications that discriminate against some applicants without creating measurable diversity.

“What we are concerned about is universities like UT that have read [Grutter] to be a green light to use race with no discernible target — critical mass,” Rein said.

Answering questions from Justice Anthony Kennedy, who may be the swing vote in this case, Rein said UT did not pursue race-neutral alternatives that would have furthered diversity.

Kennedy took aim at this point in his dissent in Grutter and said diversity goals could be achieved through race-neutral methods.

“Race should have been a last resort and it was a first resort,” Rein said.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Rein was attempting to “gut Grutter.” By requiring UT and other universities to set specific targets for admissions, colleges would make their own policies unconstitutional, she said.

“Boy, it sounds awfully like a quota to me, which Grutter said you should not be doing,” Sotomayor said. “[Grutter said] instead you should be setting an individualized assessment of the applicants.”

UT factors an applicant’s race into admissions decisions for students not automatically admitted based on high school class rank. UT admits close to one-quarter of its students under its race-conscious holistic review process.

Gregory Garre, UT’s counsel, said UT’s data shows the University met legal precedents set under Grutter because the University’s race-conscious admissions benefit all groups and do not set any sort of target.

UT admits more white students than any other racial group under its race-conscious admissions policy, UT records show. The University has admitted lower percentages of black and Hispanic students through race-conscious admissions than through race-neutral admissions every year since 2007.

Garre said there was no way to quantify a critical mass of students from a particular group.

“I think the standard you would apply is to look to whether or not the University reached an environment in which members of underrepresented minorities do not feel like spokespersons for their race, an environment where the benefits are realized,” Garre said.

Garre also said UT did not rank students in ways where race could be a “tie-breaker” between two applicants, but Justice Samuel Alito questioned the feasibility of his comment.

Justice Antonin Scalia was critical of UT’s admissions records — especially reports showing that the majority of race-conscious admits came from households with incomes above $50,000.

“Does the United States agree with Mr. Garre that African-American and Hispanic applicants from privileged backgrounds deserve a preference?” Scalia said when questioning Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who spoke on behalf of the United States government in support of UT.

Verrilli said UT’s admissions policy was tailored to create diversity within different racial groups, not just between broad racial categories by only selecting underprivileged applicants.

“[UT] will look for individuals who will play against racial stereotypes just by what they bring,” Verrilli said. “The African-American fencer, the Hispanic who has mastered classical Greek.”

Verrilli also stated the opinion of the United States government that educational diversity is necessary to prepare soldiers and government officials for the diverse work environment they encounter after college.

Chief Justice John Roberts expressed concern about the amount of faith the court would need to place in UT’s claim that its policy is being used effectively without any numerical analysis.

“The compelling interest you identify is attaining a critical mass of minority students at the University of Texas, but you won’t tell me what the critical mass is,” Roberts said.

On the steps in front of the court, representatives from several UT student groups strove to place their own mark on the arguments cut in the courtroom. Those in attendance included Bradley Poole, president of the Black Student Alliance, and Joshua Tang, coordinator of a student campaign to support UT’s admissions policy.

Printed on Thursday, October 11, 2012 as: Supreme court investigates UT

As a spike in bomb threats at major universities continues across the country, many schools are preparing for the possibility that they will be the next target.

Since Friday’s bomb threat at UT, bomb threats have targeted Arkansas State University, Louisiana State University, UT-Brownsville, North Dakota State University and The University of Mississippi football players’ cars. As a result, major universities are taking notice, sending out safety messages and reviewing their emergency procedures in case they are the next target, said Allan Baron, Texas A&M Universtiy Police Department spokesperson.

“It’s a really difficult situation to deal with,” he said. “So, that’s the whole thing. I think a lot of these colleges and universities are taking an in-depth look.”

Baron said Texas A&M University has taken measures to increase campus awareness and review emergency plans of action.

“In light of the recent threats, we have made our staff and faculty aware of what the procedures are for reporting these incidents,” he said. “Also, we have discussed the different options that are available, that can be utilized in a situation such as what The University of Texas had on their campus, so that we can adequately deal with the whole situation.”

During UT’s evacuation, not everyone moved at least 300 feet away from evacuated buildings, which is the minimum evacuation distance listed in UT’s emergency plans. The alerts UT issued did not specificy the minimum evacuation distance listed in UT’s security plans.

Baron said he hopes Texas A&M University is able to properly evacuate people, should it recieve a bomb threat. He said, like UT, Texas A&M University also has a 300-foot minimum evacuation distance in case of possible hazards.

“That 300-foot radius, that’s really hard to control,” Baron said. “A lot of time and man-power has to be put into a situation like that, and it has to be done in a relatively short amount of time.”

Erik Vasys, spokesperson for the FBI office in San Antonio, said investigations into all recent bomb threats are ongoing, and he is not able to say whether there is a connection between any of the threats at this time.

“It could just be copy cats,” he said.

Officials said arrests have been made in connection with the threats to Louisiana State University, Arkansas State University and UT-Brownsville, but not in connection with the threats targeting UT, North Dakota State University and University of Mississippi football players’ cars.

Officials with the Oxford, Mississippi, Police Department said a man called 911 at 7:46 a.m. Tuesday and told the operator there were bombs in cars belonging to University of Mississippi football players. Police then tracked down all the players, searched their cars and deemed the threat false. No one has been arrested in relation to the Miss. bomb threat, said Mike Martin, Chief of the Oxford Police Department.

Kimberly Dandridge, student body president at the university, tweeted a copy of the University of Mississippi’s emergency-situation instructions Monday morning as a precaution. She said she couldn’t believe it when a threat was called in later that day.

Vasys said penalties for the individuals making these threats will be severe if they are caught.

A terroristic threat charge under Texas state law would be classified as a third degree felony in these cases. That comes with a penalty of 2 to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $10,000. Other states have varying penalties for the crime. Civil implications could exist as well.

University spokesperson Rhonda Weldon said she is unsure of the direct financial cost of Friday’s threat for UT, as it would be difficult for the University to calculate.

Printed on Thursday, September 20, 2012 as: Universities respond to bomb threats

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge received a bomb threat that was called into 911 around 10:30 a.m. Monday, a spokesperson said. The university sent an emergency text alert ordering the campus to be evacuated, and police were still clearing many of the buildings on campus Monday evening. No explosives have been discovered so far.

“We’re checking the residence halls first,” spokesperson Ernie Ballard said.

Ballard said one of the residence halls, Evangeline Hall, was cleared so the 6,000 students who live on campus would have somewhere to go. He said the investigation is ongoing, so the school has not yet determined if the threats were false. He said he does not know how many of the university’s 29,000 students and 2,700 faculty and staff members were on campus, and that he did not know of any prior LSU campus evacuations larger than Monday’s.

LSU mass communications junior Kevin Thibodeaux said he was on campus when the text alert reached his inbox at 11:32 a.m. He walked into a building and someone told him the campus was being evacuated.

“Most people are taking it not too seriously,” Thibodeaux said. “The traffic over here is probably the craziest part.”

Thibodeaux said many people were stuck in traffic near Tiger Stadium immediately after the evacuation was ordered.

LSU campus evacuated after bomb threat

 

Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge received a bomb threat that was called into 911 around 10:30 this morning, a spokesperson said. The university sent an emergency text alert ordering the campus to be evacuated. 

 

“Everybody has been asked to evacuate campus,” spokesperson Holly Cullen said.

 

LSU mass communications junior Kevin Thibodeaux said he was on campus when the text alert reached his inbox at 11:32 a.m. He walked into a building and someone told him the campus was being evacuated.

 

“Most people are taking it not too seriously,” Thibodeaux said. “The traffic over here is probably the craziest part.”

 

Thibodeaux said many people are stuck in traffic by Tiger Stadium.

This 2011 photo provided by Donald Waters shows a fish harvested from the Gulf of Mexico with unusual lesions and infections. Two years after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank, touching off the worst offshore spill in U.S. history, the latest research into its effects is starting to back up those early reports from the do

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

BARATARIA BAY, La. — Open sores. Parasitic infections. Chewed-up-looking fins. Gashes. Mysterious black streaks. Two years after the drilling-rig explosion that touched off the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, scientists are beginning to suspect that fish in the Gulf of Mexico are suffering the effects of the petroleum.

The evidence is nowhere near conclusive. But if those suspicions prove correct, it could mean that the environmental damage to the Gulf from the BP disaster is still unfolding and the picture isn’t as rosy as it might have seemed just a year ago.

And the damage may extend well beyond fish. In the past year, research has emerged showing deep-water coral, seaweed beds, dolphins, mangroves and other species of plants and animals are suffering.

“There is lots of circumstantial evidence that something is still awry,” said Christopher D’Elia, dean of Louisiana State University’s School of the Coast and Environment. “On the whole, it is not as much environmental damage as originally projected. Doesn’t mean there is none.”

Reports of strange things with fish began emerging when fishermen returned to the Gulf weeks after BP’s gushing oil well was capped during the summer of 2010. They started catching grouper and red snapper with large open sores and strange black streaks, lesions they said they had never seen. They promptly blamed the spill.

The illnesses are not believed to pose any health threat to humans. But the problems could be devastating to some prized types of fish.

There’s no saying for sure what’s causing the diseases in what is still a relatively small percentage of the fish. The Gulf is assaulted with all kinds of contaminants every day. Moreover, scientists have no baseline data on sick fish in the Gulf from before the spill. The first comprehensive research may be years from publication.

Still, it’s clear to fishermen and researchers alike that something’s amiss.

A recent batch of test results revealed the presence of oil in the bile extracted from fish caught in August 2011, nearly 15 months after the well blew out on April 20, 2010, in a disaster that killed 11 men.

“Bile tells you what a fish’s last meal was,” said Steve Murawski, a marine biologist with the University of South Florida and former chief science adviser for the National Marine Fisheries Service. “There was as late as August of last year an oil source out there that some of those animals were consuming.”

Bile in red snapper, yellow-edge grouper and a few other species contained on average 125 parts per million of naphthalene, a compound in crude oil, Murawski said. Scientists expect to find almost none of the substance in fish captured in the open ocean.

Last summer, a federally funded team of scientists conducted what experts say is the most extensive study yet of sick fish in shallow and deep Gulf waters. Over seven cruises in July and August, the scientists caught about 4,000 fish, from Florida’s Dry Tortugas to Louisiana.

About 3 percent of the fish had gashes, ulcers and parasites symptomatic of environmental contamination, according to Murawski, the lead researcher. The number of sick fish rose as scientists moved west away from the relatively clean waters of Florida, and also as they pushed into deeper waters off Alabama, Mississippi and especially Louisiana, near where the Deepwater Horizon rig sank.

About 10 percent of mud-dwelling tile fish caught in the DeSoto Canyon, to the northeast of the well, showed signs of sickness.

“The closer to the oil rig, the higher the frequency was” of sick fish, Murawski said.Past studies off the Atlantic Seaboard found about 1 percent of fish suffering from diseases, Murawski said. But he said that figure cannot really be used for comparisons with the Gulf, whose warmer waters serve as an incubator for bacteria and parasites that can cause lesions and other illnesses.

Laboratory work over the past winter on the USF samples indicates the immune systems of the fish were impaired by an unknown environmental stress or contamination. Other researchers say they have come to similar conclusions.

“Some of the things I’ve seen over the past year or so I’ve never seen before,” said Will Patterson, a marine biologist at the University of South Alabama and at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. “Things like fin rot, large open sores on fish, those were some of the more disturbing types of things we saw. Different changes in pigment, red snapper with large black streaks on them.”

Teasing out what might have been caused by the spill and what is normal will be tricky, and that’s the challenge scientists now face. Deformities, diseases and sudden shifts in fish numbers are regular occurrences in nature. For example, scientists are not sure what to make of reports from fishermen of eyeless or otherwise deformed shrimp and crabs.

“I’ve heard everything but shrimp with two heads,” said Jerald Horst, a marine biologist retired from LSU AgCenter who writes books about the Gulf. “I listen respectfully. Reports can be useful but are not proof in themselves of cause and effect.”

Even if oil were pinpointed as the cause, it could be difficult to definitively tie the problem to the BP spill. The Gulf is strewn with wells, pipelines, natural oil leaks from the seafloor, and pollution from passing ships. And muddy, contaminant-laden water flows constantly into the Gulf from the Mississippi River.

Still, the more scientists look — thanks to millions of dollars in research money, much of it coming from a fund set up by BP for independent research — the more they’re finding that may be off-kilter.

For example, last year scientists with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette took cruises in search of crabs, lobsters and seaweed they had been studying in the waters not far from the BP well. They found a surprising lack of diversity.

There saw less seaweed and fewer crabs, lobsters and other forms of life. Also, crustaceans they pulled up had lesions, lost appendages and black gunk on their gills, said Darryl Felder, a biologist at ULL. He said the black coating may be associated with the large amounts of drilling mud used to try to plug the leaking well.

In Barataria Bay, which was hit hard by the spill, scientists say they found dolphins that were anemic and showing signs of liver and lung disease. Those problems have not been linked to the spill. But in the same bay, scientists say they have linked oil contamination to genetic changes in bait fish known as killifish.

Near the BP well, scientists have found a dying community of deep-sea coral. The scientists recently published findings linking its demise to oil that was chemically fingerprinted as having come from the BP well.

Last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advised fishermen to throw suspicious-looking fish back, and fishermen say they have been doing that. At the same time, the Food and Drug Administration and state agencies say they have tested Gulf seafood extensively and found no problems, and researchers agree there is little cause for concern.

“It’s not a people issue, and people should not be concerned about fish entering the market,” Murawski said.

For the second year, fishermen like Wayne Werner, who catches red snapper commercially, are calling in with reports of lesions. He and others said they want to get to the bottom of the problem, which is forcing them to take longer trips to fishing spots outside the spill zone and making them fear for their livelihoods.

“Every time we talked about bad fish, everybody kind of went nuts on us. Just like, ‘You’re hearsaying,’ you know? And we’re saying, ‘Well, they’re there,’” the Louisiana boat captain said this week. “They’re still there. Now that the water is getting warm again, we’re starting to see more and more again.”

Printed on Friday, April 20, 2012 as: Mutated fish in Gulf two years after spill

The Game to Watch

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object? The country just might find out on Saturday when No. 1 Louisiana State University meets No. 2 Alabama.

The two teams are so similar it’s almost impossible to tell who will come out ahead, but here is a quick breakdown of some of the pairs similarities: great defense, a game manager at quarterback, a defense that makes up for its quarterback, a national title-winning head coach, a national title banner in last five years and a legitimate claim to the No. 1 ranking. What does all this equal? For fans of college football the “game of the century.”

When the Tigers meet the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa on Saturday evening it will be the first regular season matchup of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country since No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 2 Michigan in 2006. This game is also the first time in the SEC’s regular season history where the two top-ranked teams in the nation will square off.

These two teams feature stifling defenses, with NFL talent on the field wherever you turn. It’s hard to tell which one is better, as they both rank in the top five in total yards allowed. While Alabama is first allowing a marginal 6.9 points a game, it has played a much easier schedule then the Tigers, who feature a defense that has only allowed 11.5 points a contest against the likes of Oregon, West Virginia and Auburn.

However, the edge between these two juggernauts goes slightly to the Crimson Tide who give up a crazy low 6.9 points a game. That’s lower than a touchdown a game, their defense is incredible and looks like it is playing high school teams at times.

While the offenses on these teams aren’t nearly as great as their teammates on the other side of the ball, they are still talented.

Alabama’s running game is one of the best in the country thanks to Heisman contender Trent Richardson. Richardson has broken out this year into a full-fledged star after sitting in the shadow of former Alabama great Mark Ingram for two years. Now that Ingram has moved his talents to the NFL, Richardson is on fire. He already has 989 yards and 17 touchdowns this year, rushing against some of the best defenses in the country in the SEC. Richardson carries the majority of the offensive load for the Crimson Tide, keeping the pressure off of AJ McCarron, a first year starter at quarterback. McCarron has been good for Alabama this year, managing the game much like Greg McElory did for the Tide in their national title season in 2008.

LSU, on the other hand, has a much more balanced offensive game that relies on an above average running game and a downfield passing attack. The rushing game is led by a pair of solid running backs, Spencer Ware and Michael Ford, each of whom have six touchdowns this year and at least 441 yards on the season. The passing game relies on play action and Jarrett Lee’s ability to push the ball down the gridiron to get the ball to any weapon in his super talented receiving core, that is led by Russell Shepard and Rueben Randle.

Both teams average 39 points a game, but the advantage goes to LSU by the slimmest margins because they can trust their senior quarterback in the toughest situations. Alabama might have to put the ball in the hands of a first year starter, that hasn’t seen this kind of spotlight yet.

After taking a look at the defensive and offensive sides of the ball the game is still too close to call and both teams excel at special teams, so neither have a clear advantage.

However, there is one aspect of the game neither team can control that may make all the difference — the location. This year’s game takes place in Alabama’s famously loud home confines, and that will make the difference by the slimmest of margins in this “game of the century.”