Never had two top five teams battled it out in Tusacloosa before Saturday and LSU came away with the win and the inside track on a trip to the SEC title game.
For Les Miles, the new LSU coach made some believers out of doubting fans. Dwayne Bowe got a chance to make up for some previous blunders while JaMarcus Russell had one heck of a homecoming. All the while, Alabama fans showed little class in dealing with the loss.
Big 12 football took another hit to its credibility Saturday while teams from Tennessee continue to slump.
It's all here in our latest rant.
First and foremost, to the never-say-die attitude of the LSU football team. Trailing 10-0 on Saturday, the Tigers could have packed it in and succumbed to No. 3 Alabama's defense. But LSU came out playing an inspired second half before winning Saturday's SEC thriller in overtime.
To coach Les Miles. Finally, LSU fans may give the first-year coach a break. Filling Nick Saban's shoes has been a mighty big chore, but finally Miles has his first huge win under his belt and hard-to-please Tiger fans might finally decide to give him a break. The Tigers are 8-1 and ranked No. 4 in the nation and are a lock for the SEC title game. While it will surely be uttered at least by a few never-satisfied radio call-in show regulars, please refrain from uttering the words, "man, only if we'd have won that Tennessee game." From the looks of USC and Texas, numbers one and two respectively in the BCS poll, even if LSU was to have been unbeaten at season's end, the Tigers would be forced to swallow the same bitter pill Auburn did a year ago. So get over it.
To Dwayne Bowe. Bowe's catch in overtime Saturday will be talked about for some time as his 11-yard touchdown reception gave LSU a win in one of the biggest games in SEC history. The catch was a sweet redemption after the junior wideout dropped what would have a decisive touchdown against Auburn several weeks back.
Speaking of redemption, JaMarcus Russell's return to his home state was a memorable one for the Mobile native. In Russell's only other game in his home town, the 6-5 Russell lost 10-9 at Auburn last year. As a sophomore, Russell made a clean sweep of Alabama team's beating both the Crimson Tide and Auburn.
To Alabama coach Mike Shula's clock management at the end of regulation. With the game tied 10-10 late in the fourth quarter, the Crimson Tide regained possession at their own 30 with just over a minute left. Fourty yards would have been more than enough room for kicker Jamie Christensen to attempt a game-winning field goal, but instead Shula opted for a couple of short passes in the flats for minimal yardage as well as a running play? A last second screen pass turned into a big gainer and the bulk of Alabama's second-half yardage, but the game went into extra periods, which saw the Tigers come out on top.
To the atmosphere in Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium. While a highly partisan crowd cheered on the Crimson Tide, it was an awesome atmosphere for a big game in the SEC. Honestly, the stadium isn't as loud as Tiger Stadium, but it was a grand stage for the nation's biggest game of the day.
To the Alabama student section. After fans had mingled in pretty close quarters for two days with no reported problems, the end of Saturday's game was most disappointing. The game was comparable to a title prize fight with two heavyweights taking each others best jabs. At game's end, as LSU celebrated the game-winning touchdown pass from JaMarcus Russell to Dwayne Bowe, the Tide's students showered the Tiger team with a barrage of cups, bottles and other debris. While the loss was understandably difficult, the lack of class showed by some fans put a damper on the ending of one of the SEC's greatest games ever.
Speaking of SEC football, the national pundits can remark all they want about the league being down this season, but Saturday produced two of the most exciting, memorable games this conference has seen in years. The LSU-Alabama game was the defensive struggle everyone predicted while the Georgia-Auburn contest was a rare SEC shootout.
To Big 12 football. People can fall all over themselves about the Texas Longhorns, but no one can even try and spark a debate that the Big 12 is a good football conference. The league's second-best team, Texas Tech, was beaten Saturday by lowly Oklahoma State. Plus, the weakest division of a major conference in college football, the Big 12 North, saw its divisional leader Colorado beaten by a mediocre Iowa State team. Ugh!
C'mon Vandy. In a season where everyone is pulling for you and what – four wins? The Commodores, who were once 4-0 and entertaining bowl officials lost their sixth straight game, Saturday to Kentucky, to eliminate all hopes for a bowl game. A win over the Wildcats would have setup a showdown with Tennessee for the final bowl slot in the SEC. With the loss, all Vandy can do is hope to spoil Tennessee's shot at the postseason.
Yeah Tennessee, you guys won a game Saturday, but don't begin patting yourself on the back. A 20-16 win – at HOME – to Memphis is hardly an accomplishment. Games left against Kentucky and Vanderbilt should get the Vols into a bowl game, but don't think Big Phil's seat won't be extremely warm entering next season.
To Lee Corso. While many folks are particularly fond of the feisty ESPN analyst, it was quite entertaining watching the former coach pace LSU's sideline as if he was coaching the team on Saturday. Aside from posing with the LSU cheerleaders and obviously enjoying himself greatly on the Tigers' sideline, he won more points with LSU fans when he pulled out the Tiger head on the Gameday set earlier in the day.