TIDE CLINCHES WEST!
Alabama defeated previously ninth-ranked LSU, 24-15, to wrap up the Western Division spot in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game against Florida on December 5. Bama came into the game ranked third in the nation and is now 9-0 and 6-0 in SEC games. Alabama has two conference games remaining. The only SEC West teams with a mathematical chance to catch Alabama (LSU and Ole Miss) were defeated by the Crimson Tide.
Alabama concluded a three-game homestand and has completed a stretch that included six consecutive SEC victories (with an open date prior to the LSU game).
Next week the Crimson Tide goes to Mississippi State to take on the Bulldogs of new coach Dan Mullen. Kickoff will be at 6 p.m. CST with television coverage by either ESPN or ESPN2.
LSU fell to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in SEC games. The Tigers two losses have been to number one Florida and number three Alabama.
Alabama trailed by 15-13 early in the fourth quarter when the Tide got the ball back at its 27-yard line. On first down, Bama quarterback Greg McElroy threw a quick out pass to Julio Jones, who made a move to avoid a defender and went 73 yards for a touchdown.
Alabama elected to go for a two-point conversion to make it a six-point game. Trent Richardson ran it in to make it Alabama 21, LSU 15.
Alabama got one more score in the fourth quarter, and it took a gutsy call by Coach Nick Saban to have a chance to add those clinching points. Bama punted from midfield on a fourth a six, and a Tigers defender ran into Tide punter P.J. Fitzgerald. That left Alabama facing fourth and inches. Saban elected to go for it, putting tailback Mark Ingram in the Wildcat formation. Ingram got the first down and Bama drove to a field goal that provided the final score.
With a nine-point deficit, the Tigers were in desperation mode and a final pass by back-up quarterback Jarrett Lee was intercepted by Bama's Robby Green--a Louisiana native.
LSU's starting quarterback, Jordan Jefferson, was one of a handful of key Tigers who went out with injuries. Jefferson was racked hard on a second quarter play, sandwiched between Javier Arenas and Brandon Deaderick. In the third quarter, Jefferson was sacked by freshman linebacker Nico Johnson and suffered an apparent ankle injury and left the game.
On LSU's next possession, star tailback Charles Scott broke into the Alabama secondary and raced to the Bama 15-yard line, where he was tackled by cornerbacks Arenas and Kareen Jackson. Scott appeared to injure a shoulder and, along with Jefferson, was lost for the remainder of the game.
LSU's star cornerback, Patrick Peterson, was charged with covering Bama wide receiver Julio Jones. For much of the game, Peterson had the better of it (although some errant passes by McElroy contributed to the lack or production by Jones). Peterson had broken up three passes through the first three quarters, but he had also been banged up on at least three occasions, perhaps suffering with cramps. He was out of the game when Alabama got the ball back with just over 10 minutes to play in the game.
On the LSU sidelines, Peterson appeared to be trying to enter the game, only to be called back.
That's when lightning struck the Tigers. Jones, who had dropped some key passes during the game and who had been overthrown by McElroy when he was open in the end zone, took the quick strike from McElroy, and then went down the sidelines in front of the Alabama bench basically untouched for what would expand to a 21-15 Alabama lead.
Tiffin's third field goal of the game was not as frustrating as the first two, which followed trips to the end zone with no touchdowns. Alabama also missed a scoring opportunity just before halftime when McElroy was intercepted at the seven-yard line. Tiffin's third field goal, a 40-yard effort, had been set up to seal the victory.
LSU became the first team to have the lead on Alabama since the second game of the season. The Bengal Tigers became just the second team this year to have a halftime lead on the Tide, taking a 7-3 lead to the locker room.
The Tigers struck first with a long touchdown drive. Early possessions by each team ended with fine punting. A Fitzgerald punt had the Tigers backed up inside their 10-yard line and Jefferson directed a 13-play, 91-yard drive that concluded with a 12-yard pass to tight end Deangelo Peterson. The drive consumed 6:11. Josh Jasper kicked LSU to a 7-0 lead.
Alabama got a good start after the kickoff when Arenas returned it 40 yards to near midfield. A Trent Richardson run and a McElroy pass to Marquis Maze accounted for first downs at the LSU 18, the Red Zone where Alabama has struggled this year. McElroy missed on a couple of passes into the end zone, then had to scramble on third down. That brought in Tiffin for a 28-yard field goal that cut the margin to 7-3.
Alabama took the lead on its first possession of the second half. The Tide went 81 yards in eight plays. The march started with Ingram making a fine catch for a 12-yard gain. Ingram also had first downs on back-to-back 12-yard runs to the LSU 41 and an 18-yard gain to the LSU 23. Two plays later McElroy made a nice pass and Hanks a nice catch at the goaline for a touchdown and a 10-7 Alabama lead.
LSU fought back to within a point with a safety. McElroy was about to be sacked by LSU tackle Dranke Nevis in the end zone and threw the ball out, an intentional grounding infraction. Either the sack or the grounding call meant the same thing: a safety. LSU got two points to trail by only 10-9 and Alabama had to punt the ball to the Bengals.
A team that gets a safety frequently gets additional points because of the good field position that normally comes with the free kick from the 20. So it was for the Tigers. LSU drove to the 15 on the strength of Scott's 33-yard burst up the middle. Scott, however, was injured on the play. Nevertheless, helped by an Alabama offsides penalty, the Tigers got a touchdown, Stevan Ridley going eight yards around right end. LSU attempted a pass for a two-point conversion, which was broken up by Marquis Johnson and incomplete.
Alabama drove back into the red zone, just short of a first down outside the 10-yard line as the third quarter ended. As the fourth quarter began, Ingram got the first down, just inside the 10.
Two Ingram runs gained seven yards to inside the two-yard line, and Bama's massive nose tackle, Terrence Cody, was sent in to provide blocking on what was expected to be a third down run for the touchdown. But Alabama was guilty of a substitution infraction, backed up, and came up short of the end zone by nearly three yards on a McElroy to Ingram completion.
Tiffin was called in to kick a 20-yard field goal, leaving the Tide trailing by 15-13 with 12:25 to play.
The 14-point fourth quarter preserved Alabama's undefeated season and second consective win over LSU. It was Bama's first win over the Bengal Tigers in Tuscaloosa since 1999.
Alabama had the better of it statistically, including holding yet another opponent to under 100 yards rushing. The Tigers had 29 carries for 95 yards. Alabama, led by Ingram who had 22 rushes for 144 yards, had 176 yards rushing. Bama had 276 passing to 158 for the Tigers, giving Alabama the total offense advantage of 452-253.
McElroy completed 19 of 34 passes for 276 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Marquis Maze had six receptions for 88 yards, Julio Jones four grabs for 102.
Defensively, Rolando McClain ld the Tide with nine tackles. Areanas and Mark Barron had seven each. Marcell Dareus had two key sacks to go with his four tackles.
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