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Countdown to kickoff: 10 years ago, midfield was a bridge too far vs. the Alabama defense

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A historic unit closed with a historic night.

Allstate BCS National Championship Game - LSU v Alabama Set Number: X86731 TK1 R1 F196

Alabama has had some historically good defenses in the Saban era, but none matched the sheer dominance of the 2011 unit. Try on these stats for size:

  • 3.3 total yards per play allowed was 20% better than runner up LSU (4.1)
  • 72.2 rushing yards allowed per game was 13% better than runner up FSU (82.7)
  • 111.5 passing yards allowed per game was 15% better than runner up South Carolina (131.7)
  • 8.15 points allowed per game was the lowest in more than 20 years

That defense was simply staggering.

Unfortunately, the offense and special teams failed them when LSU visited Tuscaloosa in November 2011, resulting in a 9-6 OT loss featuring zero touchdowns for either side and potentially leaving the Tide on the outside looking in where the BCS national championship was concerned.

The Tide’s fortunes would reverse when Oklahoma State visited Ames, Iowa, where a controversial missed field goal knocked the Cowboys from the ranks of the unbeaten. When the final vote was tallied, Alabama was allowed a second chance at the #1 Tigers. The national championship game was to be played in New Orleans, affording LSU a virtual home field advantage.

The game, of course, turned out to be “a mauling” in the words of commentator Brent Musberger. Alabama still couldn’t cross the goal line in the first three quarters, but Jeremy Shelley made five field goals to stake the Tide to a 15-0 lead. Finally, with a shade over four minutes to play, Trent Richardson broke one off the left edge and rumbled 34 yards to the end zone to provide the final dagger in a 21-0 whitewashing.

Even better, LSU managed to cross midfield exactly once in the game, in the fourth quarter, and QB Jordan Jefferson was immediately sacked back behind the 50, where he surrendered the football. The Tigers had averaged 40 points per game against everyone but Alabama, but on that night they managed a paltry 92 yards on 56 plays. The 2011 Alabama defense had cemented its place among the greatest in the history of the sport, and none have come close to that standard since.

Relive that historic performance below.

We are now 10 days from kickoff.

Roll Tide.