Ever since the rematch between Alabama and LSU was announced at the conclusion of the NCAA football season, there has been a heated debate as to whether or not these two teams deserved to face each other in New Orleans.
After all, Alabama lost at home to LSU, and they didn’t even play for their conference championship in December. In contrast, Oklahoma State won the Big 12 and only lost one game on the road.
Even with all of that animosity toward their presence in the game, Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide rolled into hostile territory in New Orleans and executed a defensive game plan that was one of the smartest ever displayed on this big of a stage. They held LSU to 92 total yards of offense, and only allowed the Tigers to cross the 50-yard line once en route to a 21-0 shutout victory to claim the school’s ninth national championship. AJ McCarron threw for 234 yards, and Trent Richardson rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown in the victory.
The game was largely a boring one, hearkening back to the 2001 Orange Bowl that saw Oklahoma down Florida State 13-2 in a defensive struggle. That emphasis on defense was reproduced in almost identical fashion in the Superdome on Monday night, as the Tide held LSU to only 39 yards rushing on 27 attempts.
They also kept LSU from converting on third down, only allowing them to get two first downs on 12 opportunities. They also forced two Tigers turnovers, and kept their offense off the field for a large chunk of the game.
Perhaps the most underrated star of this game was Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley, who made five of the seven field goals that he was asked to kick in this one after missing a crucial field goal in overtime against LSU during the regular season. Granted, he did miss an extra point in the closing minutes, but it didn’t matter at that point, as he had already done more than enough to help his team win. It was a heartening story for the Tide, and it was a great representation of the gritty mentality that all of the Tide players carried with them in this title tilt.
As for the Tigers, there was very little that they could point to on the positive side of the ledger. They failed to adequately attack Nick Saban’s defense, as they largely stuck to a more conservative game plan against a defense predicated on hitting the home run. This inability to take Alabama’s aggression and throw it back in their faces made LSU look tentative and weak, and it isn’t much of a surprise that they were able to manhandle the Tigers so easily.
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson had a hideously bad game. He managed 11 completions on 17 attempts, but he only got 53 yards passing out of that effort. In addition, he tried rushing the ball 14 times, and only got 15 yards on the ground. That also includes his 18 yard run in the fourth quarter, so it is pretty apparent that he just didn’t have it tonight.
Whether this loss can be pinned on poor execution or a bad game plan by Les Miles can be debated at length, but there is one thing that is beyond debate: LSU did not deserve to win this football game, and Alabama simply wanted it more, pure and simple. Overall, this game was a testament to how many NFL-caliber defensive stalwarts Alabama has, and even though it may not have been as firework-heavy as an LSU-Oklahoma State matchup would have been, it still proved yet again that there is no defense that has the same tenacity and skill as the defense down in Tuscaloosa.
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