Alabama Dominates LSU For Crown
In a game in which many had criticized the presence of Alabama, the Crimson Tide dominated in winning its second national championship in three years and 14th overall.
Bama was a convincing 21-0 winner over LSU in the BCS National Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.
Alabama finishes the season 12-1 and was able to avenge its only loss of the year at the hands of LSU. The Tigers had been 13-0 before the loss.
Jeremy Shelley kicked five field goals and Trent Richardson went 34 yards for a touchdown that absolutely iced the game in the fourth quarter, but the lion's share of credit goes to Alabama's defense and to first-year starting quarterback A.J. McCarron.
And, of course, to Nick Saban and his coaching staff. It is Saban's third BCS championship as a coach -- one at LSU and two at Alabama.
Alabama could say it left points on the field. LSU never came close to scoring. The Tigers made only one foray into Alabama territory, that in the final eight minutes of the fourth quarter, and by the time the series had ended the ball was back at midfield in Alabama's possession.
For most of the game it was field goals -- mostly made field goals by Shelley -- as had been the case in the first Alabama-LSU game this season. As in the first game, won by LSU 9-6 in overtime, there were five field goals. But in that game, three were by LSU and two by Alabama. Monday night, all were by the Crimson Tide.
It was 3-0 after one quarter, 9-0 at halftime, 15-0 going to the fourth quarter, and 21-0 when Richardson took it in from 34 yards out with 4:36 to play. That turned the steady exit of purple and gold from the stands into a torrent.
It appeared from the start that Alabama followers were no worse than even and perhaps in a slight majority of the 78,237 in attendance.
Alabama scored three points on the final play of the first half and then took the second half kickoff and drove to another field goal and a 12-0 lead.
Shelley was mostly good on field goals, but missed a couple that would have helped with breathing room. He also missed the extra point following the lone touchdown scored in eight quarters and an overtime between Alabama and LSU this season.
Sophomore quarterback A.J. McCarron was selected as the offensive player of the game as he completed 23-34 passes for 234 yards with no interceptions. Courtney Upshaw, who led the Tide with seven tackles (six unassisted) and had one sack, was the defensive MVP.
The statistical discrepancy was even greater than the final score. Alabama had 21 first downs to five for LSU. The Tide had 35 rushes for 150 yards, the Tigers 27 carries for 39 yards. McCarron's passing totals of 23-34 for 234 yards compared to LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson's 11-17 for 53 yards. Jordan suffered an interception and was sacked four times. McCarron was sacked twice, but did not have an interception.
Alabama's total offense was 69 plays for 384 yards, LSU's 44 plays for 92 yards. Bama had one fumble recovery and one interception and the Tide did not have a turnover. Alabama had only one penalty, an offsides on the final LSU punt of the game.
Almost everyone expected LSU to have an advantage in the kicking game. That didn't happen. Alabama's Cody Mandell punted three times for a 44.3 average and allowed a total of one return for one yard. LSU's Brad Wing, the All-Southeastern Conference punter, kicked 9 times for a 45.7 average, but the Tide had three returns for 67 yards.
Alabama owned the time of possession statistic, 35:26 to 24:34.
Richardson had a solid rushing game, made particularly good by his 34-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He had 20 carries for 96 yards. Eddie Lacy had 11 carries for 43 yards.
Marquis Maze was injured early in the game on a 49-yard punt return and his place was taken by Kevin Norwood, who had four catches for 78 yards. Brad Smelley had seven catches for 39 yards and Darius Hanks five for 58.
Christion Jones replaced Maze on punt and kickoff returns and had a 15 yard punt return and ran back the only LSU kickoff of the game for 32 yards.
An expected option offense from LSU was a non-factor. The Tigers top rusher was Kenny Hilliard with five catches for 16 yards. Jefferson, who somewhat surprisingly went all the way at quarterback for LSU, had 14 rushes for 15 yards.
Alabama had an excellent drive to end the first half with points on the final play of the second quarter and a 9-0 lead at intermission. When Bama got the ball back on a punt at its 24 with 1:59 to play, most expected the Tide to just run out the clock and be content to get the ball to start the second half. But the reasoning on the sideline seemed to be that in a game where points may be hard to come by, go after them.
Three Trent Richardson plays got a first down at the Alabama 37. After a pass to H-back Brad Smelley lost a couple of yards, the Tide called time out with 37 seconds to play. Quarterback A.J. McCarron hit wide receiver Kevin Norwood -- playing in place of an injured Marquis Maze -- for a 20-yard gain into LSU territory. McCarron then connected with tight end Mike Williams for four yards, Norwood for eight, and Darius Hanks for nine to give the Tide four seconds from the LSU 24.
Jeremy Shelley nailed his third field goal of the first half from 41 yards as the half ended for the 9-0 advantage.
The first score of the game was set up by an unlikely event, but had a familiar ring of field goal. LSU had given up six total yards on punt returns all season. On Brad Wing's second punt of the night, a 54-yard boot, Bama's Marquis Maze took the ball at his 25 and returned it up the middle, then down the right sidelines to the LSU 26. Bama got 16 yards on a first down pass from A.J. McCarron to Darius Hanks to the 10. There the drive stalled and Jeremy Shelley kicked a 23-yard field goal with five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Shelley made it 6-0 with a second quarter 34-yard field goal. Bama drove 58 yards in 11 plays to the score. McCarron completed first down passes of nine yards to Darius Hanks for a first down and Richardson had first down runs of seven and 20 yards for first downs to set up the kick.
Alabama also missed a scoring opportunity. The Tide drove from its 11 to the LSU 32 in a drive that started at the end of the first quarter and went into the second quarter. McCarron had a first down pass to Eddie Lacy and Lacy had first down runs of nine and three yards before McCarron connected with Norwood (who made an excellent leaping catch near the sideline) for 26 yards.
It appeared the Tide's Cade Foster would attempt a 49-yard field goal, but a fake -- a shovel pass from holder McCarron to tight end Chris Underwood -- got the first down. Unfortunately for Bama, the Tide couldn't move and tried to settle for a 42-yard Shelley field goal, but it was blocked by LSU's Michael Brockers.
After taking a 9-0 first half lead, the Tide had an explosive drive that ended in a bit of disappointment by not getting a touchdown. Christion Jones returned the second half kickoff to the 32. McCarron hit Darius Hanks for 19 and Kenny Bell for 26 and in two plays Bama had moved to the LSU 23. But three plays came up short of the first down and Shelley kicked his fourth field goal of the game, a 35-yard effort with barely two minutes gone in the third quarter. It was 12-0.
LSU seemed to be making an offensive threat when the Tigers moved to a first down at the LSU 43, but an Upshaw sack thwarted the effort and Wing was punting again.
McCarron connected with Norwood for 24 yards and a first down at midfield, but the Tide quarterback then missed on a wide open Hanks and the Tide had to punt.
The offense didn't have to wait long for another chance, but it was perhaps the most disappointing opportunity of the night. Under pressure, Jefferson tried to shovel a pass to Spencer Ware, and the ball went to Bama linebacker C.J. Mosley, who was tackled by Jordan at the LSU 27. There was a long delay because Mosley suffered an apparent knee injury and had to be carted from the field to the medical examination room.
Presented that opportunity, the Tide could muster only four yards in three plays. Shelley had a 41-yard opportunity, but he pushed it just outside the right upright and Bama had squandered a nice scoring opportunity.
After another LSU punt -- the Tigers were good on only 2-12 third down conversions and had six three-and-outs among its 11 possessions -- Alabama got another start from midfield. Lacy had back-to-back 11-yard runs to move into the Red Zone. As had been the case earlier, the drive stalled and Shelley was called on for a 44-yard field goal, which he nailed to make it 15-0.
Mandell's final punt of the night was a beauty, a 52-yarder to All-America Tryann Matheiu at the 34. Matheiu returned it for one yard, then was smothered by Bama's Dre Kirkpatrick who handled Matheiu roughly. That may have been a little payback for the cheap shot Matheiu had against Kirkpatrick in the first game of the season.
LSU did follow that with its one trip into Alabama territory, but going for it on fourth-and-18, Jefferson was hit by Dont'a Hightower and fumbled, the ball recovered by Nick Gentry.
Only 6:15 remained. McCarron had a nice little run of 13 yards and from the 34 Richardson took the ball at left end and went untouched to the end zone. Although Shelley's extra point kick hit the right upright and was no good, it was 21-0 and the game was over.
The celebration in a town that knows how to celebrate was just beginning for those in crimson and white.
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