VIRTUAL TIGERS: LSU vs. Bama Simulated

Somehow you knew it would come down to this. It was inevitable – November. LSU marching toward Atlanta still with national championship hopes, and the Grinch looming large.

You remember him, don't you?

The guy that spearheaded LSU's reawakening. The guy who ruled Baton Rouge with an iron fist, turned LSU administrators on their ears, got things built – including the foundation of the Tigers football program that exists today. The guy who brought Tigers fans their first national championship since Paul Dietzel did so in 1958.

You know, the guy who said how much he and his family loved Baton Rouge. The guy who flew to Orlando and announced on Christmas Day he was leaving LSU to become the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. The guy whose team wasn't prepared to take on Iowa in the CapitalOne Bowl after he said he was leaving. The guy who, at his first press conference as the Dolphins head coach, stated one of the problems his team had in 2005 was that it didn't have very good quarterbacks. The guy who accepted the Alabama head coaching position the same day LSU throttled Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl this past January. The guy who said the only reason the Tigers were having so much success was because of the players he recruited, including the NFL Draft's overall No. 1 selection who he said wasn't very good in 2004.

Yeah, that's the guy. And now he has the opportunity to continue fulfilling his role as Grinch. In his first year, through a tremendous amount of good fortune, his team controls its own destiny from here on out. LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn are all that stand in his way from reaching the SEC Championship Game in his first year back in the conference.

Somehow, you knew. Didn't you?

LSU 44, Alabama 41 (3OT)

VIRTUAL TUSCLOOSA, Ala. – It took three overtimes and defensive will, but Virtual LSU fought back and kept its championship aspirations alive with a 44-41, triple-overtime thriller.

After picking up 20 yards on just two plays in the final overtime period, Virtual Alabama got as close as LSU's 3-yard line before being turned away and held to a 21-yard Leigh Tiffin field goal to go up 41-38. The Tigers would need only three plays to finish things off as Matt Flynn connected with Early Doucet in the back of the end zone on a 22-yard strike.

The ending was fitting. Doucet's final catch of the day was his eighth reception and capped off a 251-yard performance that included three touchdowns. Doucet's other touchdown catches went for 69 and 94 yards.

"That's why we recruited him," Virtual Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "Relative to the other receivers that were around at the time, he was the best. Not only is he a fantastic player, he's a quality-character guy. Aight?"

Down 28-21, things looked bleak for the Tigers with 1:20 to go when Alabama decided to go for it facing a fourth-and-seven at the LSU 32. A dropped pass, however, gave the Tigers new life. LSU flat lined when Flynn was intercepted with under a minute to go, but it was shocked back into existence again when Marlon Favorite forced a fumble that was recovered by Ali Highsmith.

The Tigers took over at the Alabama 49-yard line, and Flynn immediately hit Doucet for a gain of 22 yards. An incompletion and a sack with :43 showing followed; but facing a third-and-17, Flynn found Richard Dickson. Dickson eluded a defender and finished off a 36-yard pass for a touchdown that tied things with 32 seconds to go.

Flynn would finish the game completing 13 of 25 passes for 306 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions, while Jacob Hester's 11 rushes for 88 yards and a score led the Tigers' ground attack. Dickson had two catches for 40 yards and a score.

Alabama's John Parker Wilson finished the day hitting on 20 of 34 passes for 275 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Terry Grant led the Crimson Tide's rushers with 13 carries for 24 yards, and DJ Hall paced the receiving corps with eight catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns. He was followed by Keith Brown's four catches for 68 yards and a score.

LSU went on defense for the first overtime and appeared to be steering Alabama for a field goal when Wilson hit Hall on a 27-yard touchdown in the end zone. Flynn responded with his feet, covering all 25 yards needed for a score on three plays. In the second overtime period, LSU was held to a 24-yard Colt David field goal, but the defense stood tall and forced a field goal.

"I can tell you this," Virtual LSU head coach Les Miles said, "(Craig) Steltz nearly ended things there with an interception on the first play in that overtime. Our guys hung in there and got the job done. Proud of this football team and what they've accomplished."

Alabama jumped out to an early lead on its second possession with a five-play, 85-yard drive when Hall nabbed a diving catch in the end zone and LSU immediately gave the home team another opportunity by fumbling the ball away. One play later, the Crimson Tide had a 14-0 advantage with 1:26 to go in the first quarter.

An interception by Jonathan Zenon with eight seconds to go in the first half set up LSU's first score. Flynn hit Doucet on a skinny post that covered 69 yards and cut the deficit in half. LSU appeared to be in great shape to tie things up when Jared Mitchell returned the opening kickoff of the second half to the Tigers 37-yard line, but a 40-yard pick-six ended that and put the Crimson Tide up 21-7 just 14 seconds into the third quarter.

Another interception by LSU followed and, after Flynn managed to hit Doucet on a 94-yard streak for a touchdown with :11 showing in the third quarter to cut the lead to 21-14, the Crimson Tide returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards nine seconds later.

On a day where LSU's defense held Alabama to just 20 yards rushing on the ground, Hester got the Tigers back into the game with a 57-yard touchdown run on a toss left with four minutes left in regulation that capped a four-play, 81-yard drive that lasted exactly 60 seconds.

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