Alabama humbles LSU with a resounding 21-0 win

Steve Henson
Yahoo! SportsJanuary 10, 2012
Alabama humbles LSU with a resounding 21-0 win
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Nick Saban got his third national title thanks to a nearly flawless defensive performance from the Tide

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 competitive 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 92 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.

Yes, LSU was humbled, bumbling through four quarters of some of the most ineffective, unproductive, futile football seen in a while, especially on such a grand stage, the second week of January, with the national title on the line.

Alabama (12-1) proved it deserves the championship and the crystal football that goes with it. The Crimson Tide defense suffocated LSU (13-1). The Tide offense was just inventive enough, took just enough risks, to allow the defense to win the game. And the Tide kicking game did the bulk of the scoring.

No doubt, Alabama deserves the title, even though it didn't win its division in the SEC. Even though it lost to LSU earlier this season. This was a resounding statement. And it's worth mentioning that LSU scored not a single touchdown against Alabama in either game, winning the regular-season meeting in an exchange of field goals, 9-6.

"I think it was a great team win," said Alabama's Nick Saban, who became the first coach to win three BCS championships. "Our defense was great and our offense controlled the tempo of the game from start to finish."

[Photos: Alabama dominates LSU to win title]

So thoroughly was the thrashing that the primary name that lingered was Jeremy Shelley. Sometimes it's that way in a game dominated by defense. A kicker becomes the focus. Maybe that's not quite fair to Tide defensive stalwarts that included linebacker Courtney Upshaw, to quarterback AJ McCarron, who ran an efficient offense between the 20-yard lines, and to tailback Trent Richardson, who scored from 34 yards with 4:36 to play for the game's only touchdown.

Shelley, an unheralded, unassuming junior kicker from Raleigh, N.C., made five field goals. He scored every point until Richardson's late touchdown. He kicked a field goal from 23 yards in the first quarter, from 34 and 41 in the second, from 35 and 44 in the third. He missed one field-goal attempt, had another blocked and missed his only PAT attempt, but nobody will remember those.

McCarron was chosen offensive MVP after completing 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards and Upshaw was selected defensive MVP after making seven tackles and recording a sack. Yet if the lingering name is Shelley, the lingering memory is LSU's shell-shocked faces. The Tiger team that won 13 games in a row and dominated college football like few teams ever was nowhere to be found.

"We slowed down their run," Upshaw said. "They thought they'd come out and run it down our throats, and we weren't going to let that happen."

No kidding. LSU rushed for 39 yards on 27 carries. The running game was nonexistent. And the Tigers passed for only 53 yards, so no help there. In one of the most anticipated sports rematches in decades, LSU just plain didn't show up.

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LSU Coach Les Miles will be second-guessed for sticking with quarterback Jordan Jefferson and not going to backup Jarrett Lee.

"We felt like with Jordan Jefferson's feet and ability to get away from the rush, it was fair that he finish," Miles said.

As for his team's overall offensive ineptitude, he said, "We couldn't sustain any consistency."

LSU had one first down and 43 yards total offense in the first half. Each of the Tigers' five possessions ended in a punt. They didn't attempt plays down the field and were tentative on third down, failing to convert on any.

Alabama, by contrast, was aggressive and inventive. The biggest play was a 49-yard punt return that set up Shelley's first field goal 10 minutes into the game. Alabama moved with ease across midfield and into LSU territory before stalling near the red zone, settling for two more field goals, a 34-yarder with 4:18 left in the half and a 41-yarder as time expired.

[Related: Wetzel: Bad BCS final befits season of scandal]

Sixteen of the Tide's 18 first-down plays were passes. The second half began no differently, with McCarron hitting Darius Hanks with a 19-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage and Kenny Bell taking a slip screen pass for 16 yards on the next play.

That drive ended in Shelley's fourth field goal, of 35 yards little more than two minutes into the third quarter. And Alabama's next possession began with another big pass play, a 24-yard toss from McCarron to Kevin Norwood.

The rest of the game was more of the same, and Alabama reigns.

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