NEW ORLEANS - It was too easy.
Second-ranked Louisiana State danced, dodged and darted its way into the end zone last night, turning the BCS national championship game into a horrible replay for top-ranked Ohio State. It was over early, with Matt Flynn throwing four touchdown passes in a 38-24 win.
Playing at its home away from home in the Big Easy, LSU (12-2) became the first two-loss team to play for the title. Shouts of "SEC! SEC!" bounced around the Superdome as the Tigers won their second BCS crown in five seasons. They are the first school to win a second title since the Bowl Championship Series rankings began with the 1998 season.
And in a season of surprises, this was hardly an upset: Ohio State once again fell apart in college football's biggest game. A year after the Buckeyes were routed by Tim Tebow and Florida, 41-14, in the Arizona desert, they barely did better.
Jacob Hester bulled for a short touchdown, Early Doucet wiggled loose for a score, and all-American Glenn Dorsey led a unit that outplayed the top-ranked defense in the nation. Ohio State (11-2) had little to celebrate after Chris "Beanie" Wells broke loose for a 65-yard touchdown run on the fourth play of the game.
Yet while LSU got to hoist the $30,000 crystal trophy, certainly many fans around the country were peering into their crystal balls, wondering if someone else was worthy of the title. Southern Cal, Georgia, West Virginia, Kansas and Missouri all put on impressive shows in bowl games, and will be among the favorites in 2008.
The final Associated Press poll was to be released early today.
LSU became just the fourth favorite to win in 10 BCS championship games. Coach Les Miles probably got a little extra satisfaction, too. Though he turned down a chance to return home to Michigan, he did something his alma mater hadn't done recently - beat the Buckeyes.
The loss left Ohio State at 0-9 overall in bowl games against teams from the Southeastern Conference.
The Tigers rallied from an early 10-0 deficit, taking a 24-10 lead that held up. Two big plays on special teams kept them ahead - they blocked a field goal, and later took advantage of a roughing-the-kicker penalty.
Flynn hit Doucet with a 4-yard toss with 9 minutes, 4 seconds left for a 31-10 lead, and the celebration was on in earnest. The Buckeyes made the score more respectable on Todd Boeckman's 5-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to Brian Robiskie, only to have Flynn come back and throw his second touchdown pass to Richard Dickson.
As the clock wound down, Boeckman threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Brian Hartline.
Ohio State was trying to win its second BCS title in six years, adding to the one coach Jim Tressel captured by upsetting Miami, 31-24, in double overtime for the 2002 championship.
The Buckeyes were perhaps the most-maligned No. 1 team in recent memory, with critics attacking them all season. Tressel gave his players a 10-minute DVD filled with insults hurled at them by television and radio announcers, hoping it would motivate his team.
Bowl Championship Series officials are going to have serious discussions in the coming months about going to a plus-one format, which could create a four-team playoff in major college football.
Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford, the new coordinator of the BCS, said he intended to lead a "thorough" evaluation of the plus-one format. The BCS must determine in the next nine to 12 months what format it will use for the 2010 season (and the 2011 bowls) so it can negotiate a new television deal.
Swofford, speaking to the Football Writers Association of America, said there was increased support among conference commissioners and university presidents for serious discussions of the plus-one format, which would set the matchup for the national championship game after the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls have been played.
Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese and Big Twelve commissioner Dan Beebe also have said they would like to look more deeply into the plus-one format.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Pacific Ten commissioner Tom Hansen have said the university presidents they work for were opposed to the plus-one format, in part because it could make the Rose Bowl less attractive.
The Big Ten and Pac-10 have a contractual relationship with the Rose Bowl.
The winner of the semifinals would play a week later in the BCS national championship game.
Had such a format been used this season, it still would have left several teams with a good case to be playing for the national title - including Georgia and Southern Cal - out of the mix.
Ohio State would have played fourth-ranked Oklahoma in one game, and LSU would have met third-ranked Virginia Tech. Both Virginia Tech and Oklahoma lost their bowl games.