Bama leaves no doubt who’s No. 1

Bama leaves no doubt who’s No. 1

Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 7:00 pm

By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP National Writer
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Alabama defense took no chances in the rematch.
When Jordan Jefferson dropped back to pass, he was swept under by a tide of crimson. When the LSU quarterback took off running, he must’ve felt like Alabama had a few extra players on the field.
Courtney Upshaw, Dont’a Hightower and Co. sure made it seem that way.
With a smothering display of old-school football, the No. 2 Crimson Tide blew out the top-ranked Tigers 21-0 in the BCS championship game Monday night.
Coach Nick Saban’s Tide also moved into the top spot in the final Associated Press poll for the eighth time, tying Notre Dame for the most of any team in college football.
In this postseason of high-scoring shootouts, one of the greatest defenses in college football history carried another title back to Tuscaloosa.
“They are unbelievable,” said Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones, relieved that he only has to go against them in practice. “That defense is as good as any defense I’ve ever seen. They rush the passer, they have awesome linebackers and they’re great in coverage. They really don’t have any weaknesses. They have to be as good as any defense ever.”
He’ll get no argument from Jefferson and the Tigers (13-1), who had beaten Alabama 9-6 in overtime on Nov. 5 — a game the Tide was still smarting about when it got to the Big Easy.
LSU didn’t cross midfield until there were eight minutes left in the game. The Tigers finished with just 92 yards and five first downs.
“This defense is built on stopping them, and that’s what we did,” said Upshaw, the game’s 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.”
The Crimson Tide (12-1) kept kicking field goals and finally made a long-overdue trip to the end zone late in the game — the only touchdown scored by either team in their two meetings.
Jeremy Shelley tied a bowl record with five field goals and the defense did the rest, posting the first shutout in the 14-year history of the BCS. It was the Tide’s second BCS title in three years.
“That was the message before the game: to finish,” Saban said. “In fact, it was how bad do you want to finish? We certainly didn’t play a perfect game, we got a field goal blocked, we couldn’t find the end zone for a long time, but we just kept playing.”
While only crimson-clad fans will remember this as a thing of beauty, Alabama erased any doubts that it deserved to be in the title game over another one-loss team like Oklahoma State or Stanford.
Then again, one of those teams might have actually scored a touchdown before Alabama finally did, with 4:36 left in the game, long after fans may have flipped to something more entertaining than a one-sided kicking contest. Amazingly, these Southeastern Conference powerhouses played twice in a span of about two months, and never got one of those things that’s worth six points — you know, touchdowns — until Trent Richardson broke off a 34-yard run with 4:36 remaining.
It only took 115 minutes, 34 seconds, plus the overtime period in their first meeting.
LSU had beaten eight ranked teams — including Alabama in early November — to establish itself as the clear No. 1 going into the bowls, but the Tigers didn’t come close to matching their performance from the Game of the Century in Tuscaloosa. Instead of putting up a “Godfather II,” this one was more akin to “Speed 2.” Published in The Messenger 1.10.12

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