With bland uniforms, a defense loaded with stalwarts and an offense predicated on smash-mouth football, Alabama remains one of the quintessentially old-school programs in college football. In the Bowl Championship Series title game, the No. 2 Crimson Tide showed in their 21-0 victory over No. 1 Louisiana State on Monday night that there is still a place in the national elite for a throwback program in which ingenuity comes in the form of a play-action pass. In Alabama, which claimed its 14th national title in the first shutout in B.C.S. title-game history, they do not need to be reminded that football wins are not graded with style points and that touchdowns are overrated.
Defense might not win titles in most football places anymore but it still does in Tuscaloosa. No. 2 Alabama parlayed suffocating defense and five Jeremy Shelley field goals Monday night into a 21-0 victory over top-ranked Louisiana State in the Bowl Championship Series title game at the Superdome.
Few mentioned that the Crimson Tide actually had a quarterback. His name is A J McCarron. And his charge on Monday night was simple: for Alabama to win the title, he needed not to lose it. So there went McCarron, onto the field, against the second-best defense in college football, against a team considered before Monday as the best around, perhaps in years. McCarron did not lose the game. Just the opposite. Behind his right arm, a series of field goals and an explosive offense — explosive, in this case, being relative — he led the Crimson Tide to victory.
Alabama delivered what everyone expected from the first play of the BCS title game, when a host of red jerseys stuffed LSU running back Michael Ford at the line of scrimmage: a rock 'em, sock 'em affair dominated by defense. The Crimson Tide's was simply better.
Jeremy Shelley redeemed Alabama's kickers. Shelley overcame a few errant kicks to equal a bowl record with five field goals in the Crimson Tide's 21-0 win over LSU in Monday night's BCS championship game, writing a feel-good ending for the little guys with the maligned legs.
The Tigers were outgained 384-92 in total yards, managed a puny five first downs and didn't cross the 50 until there were just 8 minutes left. From there, they went back, back, back - the last gasp ending appropriately with beleaguered quarterback Jordan Jefferson getting the ball knocked from his hand before he could even get off a fourth-and-forever pass. The BCS title belongs to Nick Saban, who is carving out quite a legacy of his own at the school that still worships Bear Bryant as if he just retired yesterday. The Associated Press likely will follow suit by bestowing the title on the Tide when its poll comes out early Tuesday, given the dominance of Alabama's performance.
Boos rained down from a corner of the Superdome dominated by purple-and-gold clad fans as LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson trotted onto the field for a crucial third-quarter drive. One more victory in the final game of his career could have made Jefferson the toast of Baton Rouge and completed a stirring story of personal vindication after an early season defined by trouble with the law and a four-game suspension. Instead, his most memorable play was an unfathomable interception in a 21-0 loss to Alabama (12-1) in Monday night’s BCS title game, marking the first time LSU (13-1) had been held scoreless since the Tide did it to them in 2002.
LSU, humbled. That was the BCS championship game Monday night in a nutshell. Alabama won, 21-0, at the Superdome in New Orleans, and it wasn’t even that close. How can a game be close when the loser crossed the 50-yard line all of once and never came close to scoring? Yes, LSU was humbled, stumbling on offense, managing only five first downs and 93 total yards. The Tigers’ offensive performance shouldn’t be measured in yards, it ought to be done in iotas, and they were unable to move a single one.
It didn't sound like an LSU home game at the Superdome, about 80 miles from its Baton Rouge campus. The dome was deafening on almost every play with a crowd that was much closer to 50-50 than partisan.
Talk about redemption. After Alabama's special teams cost it a victory over LSU in a 9-6 overtime loss Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., kicker Jeremy Shelley made field goals of 23, 34, 41, 35 and 44 to lead the second-ranked Crimson Tide to a 21-0 victory over the top-ranked Tigers in front of a crowd of 78,237 at the BCS championship game Monday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. "We have been through so much with the tornado," Saban said during the postgame celebration. "I hope this lifts their spirits."
Alabama outgained LSU 384-92 as Alabama claimed the Southeastern Conference's sixth straight national championship, the second for Alabama in that stretch. It's also the third national title for Nick Saban, making him the first coach to win three BCS titles. "I told my players I did not see it coming and it's my fault," LSU coach Les Miles said.
What it means: Alabama now enters the offseason with Nick Saban's second national championship as the Tide's head coach. That's No. 13 in the Alabama record books. The Tide will lose some key pieces to this team, especially on defense, but the offense might be better with four of five linemen coming back and McCarron being much improved. Alabama should also have some better play at wide receiver. For LSU, this was a great season until Monday night. But the Tigers return the core of this team and will most certainly get better quarterback play from junior college transfer Zach Mettenberger. Both of these teams will be ranked right at the top of the polls to begin next season.
Led by dominating linebackers Courtney Hightower and Dont'a Hightower, LSU simply couldn't do anything -- running or passing. Kenny Hilliard led the Tigers with 16 yards rushing, while Jefferson was 11 of 17 passing for 53 yards, usually hurrying away passes before he was sent tumbling to the Superdome turf. He was sacked four times and threw a mystifying interception when he attempted to flip away a desperation pass, only to have it picked off because his intended receiver had already turned upfield looking to block.
Alabama, therefore, found itself in a familiar position. The last three times Alabama has played for a national title, it has done so either as the underdog, or at least the target of misaimed criticism. In 1992, Alabama was given nary a chance against Miami. In 2009, Alabama was dogged by criticism that it had never beaten Texas in its history, and that its offense couldn’t possibly score enough to keep up with a Big 12 team. In 2011, Alabama shouldn’t even be here, many cried. There’s another common thread connecting those three years: Alabama won by convincing scores each time.
Kirkpatrick didn’t blink when asked how this Alabama defense would be remembered 15 years from now. "The greatest defense in the world … the greatest defense to ever touch the field," Kirkpatrick beamed. Granted, he was still basking in Alabama’s second national championship in the past three years, and that’s a dizzying label to put on any defense. But in the realm of the best college defenses in modern times, it’s going to be hard to top this bunch.
To those LSU followers who think they got short-sheeted by the BCS … To those Oklahoma State honks who insist their team belonged here Monday night … To those Associated Press voters who said they would keep LSU atop their ballots even if the Tigers lost to Alabama … To all of them I say, "Are you nuts?"
"We've been leaning on No. 3 all year," McCarron said of Richardson, the winner of the Doak Walker Award given to the best running back in the nation. "He's our workhorse. I mean, he's our main guy. And we knew coming into the game somebody else had to step up, and Coach just gave me an opportunity."
Perhaps we should have known Sunday morning, when Nick Saban was both witty and relaxed in his final news conference before he undressed Les Miles. Saban doesn’t do witty and relaxed very often. Maybe once every lunar eclipse. When Saban was making jokes, that might have been the clue that his team was absolutely locked and loaded to take down LSU.
Tonight's BCS Championship Game between Alabama and LSU will re-air on the ESPN family of networks beginning immediately upon its conclusion. Additionally, ESPNU planned to re-air the game at the following times Tuesday: 3 a.m., 6 a.m., 9 a.m.; and noon Wednesday and 2 a.m. Saturday.
After Miles made an opening statement, the moderator opened the floor to questions. The first came from Bobby Hebert, a local broadcaster and former Saints quarterback, whose son, T-Bob Hebert, plays center and guard for L.S.U. Hebert started, according to the transcript: "Coach, did you ever consider bringing in Jarrett Lee, considering that you weren’t taking any chances on the field? Now, I know Alabama’s defense is dominant. But, come on, that’s ridiculous, five first downs. I mean, so it’s almost an approach, I’ll tell you from the fans’ standpoint, that how can you not maybe push the ball down the field and bring in Jarrett Lee?"
OMG I played 3 plays....
Alabama had long since put away the game. The Tide were 4:36 away from a national championship whether or not they scored another point. But for their sake, and for college football's sake, Trent Richardson's 34-yard touchdown run to put the final clamps on LSU was absolutely, positively needed. "That was definitely the most fun touchdown we've ever scored," Alabama tackle Barrett Jones said after his team finished demolishing the previously unblemished Tigers 21-0 to claim its second BCS championship in three years. "After two games of frustration kicking field goals, that's a moment I'll never forget."
Alabama split the games and swept the titles. The Crimson Tide was voted No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll for the eighth time, tying Notre Dame for the most of any team in college football, after winning a rematch with LSU in the BCS championship on Monday night.