But the numbers don’t lie.
Holding the previously undefeated and No. 1 LSU Tigers to 92 total yards, Alabama methodically crippled its opponent en route to a 21-0 victory and the 2011 BCS National Championship.
The most telling stat: It wasn’t until LSU’s second-to-last drive that the Tigers crossed the 50-yard line. Ironically, after four plays, including a strip-sack and Alabama fumble recovery on 4th down, LSU had re-crossed the 50 heading the wrong direction.
For the game, LSU ran 4 plays in Alabama territory for -18 yards. In comparison, the Crimson tide ran 43 plays in LSU territory, totaling 192 yards.
“That was the message before the game: to finish,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said, the first coach in the BCS era to win three titles. “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.”
Finishing is exactly what Alabama did.
Offensively, it wasn’t Alabama’s running game that controlled the title bout; it was Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron. The sophomore played like a champion, completing 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards. True, Trent Richardson (20 carries, 96 yards and the game’s only TD) and Eddie Lacy (11 carriers, 43 yards) helped, but McCarron carved up LSU’s secondary all evening.
Despite floundering in the teams’ first meeting, Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley set a BCS record (and tied a record for all bowl games) with five field goals. Still, with Alabama’s suffocating defense led by linebacker Courtney Upshaw, Shelley didn’t nab the Most Outstanding Player trophy. Quite possibly, the final missed PAT after Alabama’s late touchdown might have done him in.
In a side note, many believe this is the first time Saban has smiled since 1987 (left). That was Michigan State’s last Rose Bowl victory and Saban was an assistant on George Perles’ staff. (Remember, Saban was pretty ticked shortly after Alabama won the 2009 championship because during the Gatorade bath the jug clocked him in the forehead).
The Alabama victory, for most of the new Deuce2Sports audience, meant the most to Aaron Fraser. By winning his final three games and having a low tiebreaker, Fraser claimed the 2011 Bowl Pool Championship and a spot on the spectacular Wall of Champions. Lisa Harkins, who would have clinched the title with a LSU victory, settled for second place, but not before tweeting the following on Twitter: “Hey LSU, I want my $170 back. #bowlpooltragedy.” The numerical reference, of course, is what the egg laid by LSU cost her.
Third place goes to Ed Harkins, known to many as Papa Harks. It wasn’t long ago that Papa Harks said, “I don’t think I’m going to get my $10 back, unfortunately.” Technically, he was right; He got his $10 back plus another Andrew Jackson!
If you’re thinking you might suffer from college football withdrawal, there are no worries; the college basketball season is in full swing and, no joke, the SEC has an Alabama-LSU showdown on Wednesday! It’s a perfect time to get a taste of some college basketball and gear up for the annual March Madness Pool! We look forward to seeing everyone in March!