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Fans who vehemently disputed that Alabama (12-1) did not deserve a rematch against LSU (13-1) were forced to eat their words after Monday night’s Allstate BCS National Championship.
The Crimson Tide’s November 5 9-6 home overtime loss to the Tigers in “The Game of the Century” was completely forgotten after an overwhelmingly dominating 21-0 victory, this time around in New Orleans. As a result, Alabama received 55 of the 60 first-place AP votes following their second title game victory in three years.
One first-place vote was given to #2 LSU, while third ranked Oklahoma State (12-1) earned a total of 4. Alabama head coach Nick Saban became only the 10th coach to ever win three national titles – as well as the first to do so in the BCS era. “We didn’t do a lot different,” said Saban. “We did some things on offense formationally. Our offensive team did a great job. Defensively, we just played well, played the box. Our special teams did a great job.”
Four combined missed field goals by Jeremy Shelley and Cade Foster cost them the previous matchup, but Shelley’s 5-7 night brought about a lot more than just redemption on the biggest stage of all. However, at the end of the day, the ultra-stingy Alabama defense was the focal point.
“This defense is built on stopping them, and that’s what we did,” said Courtney Upshaw, who was named defensive MVP. “We wanted to come out and show the world we beat ourselves the first game. We wanted to come out and dominate from start to finish, and that’s what we did.”
Alabama unquestionably lived up to their billing as the number one defense in the country – surrendering just 53 passing yards to quarterback Jordan Jefferson, along with a measly 39 to him and his entire rushing unit. LSU didn’t even make it into ‘Bama territory or convert a 3rd down until the final quarter. They went a meager 2-12 on 3rd down and had just five first downs in comparison to Alabama’s 21.
The shutout was the most impressive accomplishment of all. Before this game, no team had ever been held scoreless in a BCS Bowl. One would have to look back 20 years to discover the last championship game shutout occurred – Miami over Nebraska in the 1992 Orange Bowl (pre-BCS).
Things got so ugly for the Tigers offense that questions arose as to whether or not head coach Les Miles would eventually pull Jefferson and go with Jarrett Lee instead; though, to the curiosity of many, he never did.
Miles eluded to Jefferson’s athletic ability against the super quick Alabama defense as the main reason for leaving him in. Lee’s one touchdown and seven interceptions in four career games against the Crimson Tide probably had something to do with the decision as well. Alabama went into the half with a 9-0 lead thanks to 23, 34, and 41 yard field goals from Shelley. His only miss prior to halftime came on a blocked 42 yard attempt early in the 2nd.
LSU remained very much in the game even after C.J. Mosely intercepted a Jefferson shovel pass at the LSU 27 with the score 12-0 early in the 3rd. The Tigers gave up nothing off the turnover following a 41 yard missed kick by Shelley. A career long 44 yard field goal by Shelley towards the end of the quarter made it a 15-0 game. LSU finally began to move the ball in the 4th, until a strip sack of Jefferson on 4th and 18 gave Alabama starting position at midfield.
Senior, Trent Richardson’s 34 yard touchdown sprint down the left sideline made it a 3 possession game and ended LSU’s hopes with 4:36 remaining. But it was a sophomore who ironically led Alabama throughout. A.J. McCarron threw the ball much more than expected with 34 attempts. Twenty-three completions, 234 yards, and one Offensive MVP Award later, he became the first underclassman to ever win the BCS Championship.
Elite senior receiver and punt returner Marquis Maze would not return with a hamstring pull suffered on an early 1st quarter return. Sophomore, Kevin Norwood and senior Darius Hanks stepped up though, combining for 136 yards on 9 receptions. And while offense may sell tickets, we learned once again that a relentless defense like this still wins championships. “The whole defense is the MVP,” said Upshaw in front of the crowd. “The whole defense. Roll Tide, baby. Roll Tide!”
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