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Alabama wins BCS title by dominating rematch with LSU

Jeremy Shelley kicks five field goals before Trent Richardson breaks loose for a 34-yard touchdown run in a 21-0 victory over the Tigers.

January 09, 2012|By Chris Dufresne
  • Alabama Coach Nick Saban celebrates with the trophy after the Crimson Tide defeated LSU in the BCS championship game on Monday night at the Superdome in New Orleans.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban celebrates with the trophy after the Crimson Tide… (Ronald Martinez / Getty…)

Reporting from New Orleans -- Alabama did something Monday night even the best NFL teams don't do much anymore.

The Crimson Tide played defense -- what a boring, antiquated, yesteryear concept.

No. 2 Alabama pitched the first shutout in Bowl Championship Series title-game history with a 21-0 win over No. 1 Louisiana State at the Superdome.

It also was the first shutout in the 14-year history of BCS bowl games.

It was the second BCS title for Alabama, which won in 2009, and its 14th national title overall. Nick Saban became the first coach to claim three BCS crowns, winning two with Alabama after getting his first with LSU in 2003.

The Southeastern Conference claimed its sixth straight BCS title and eighth overall.

Monday's wasn't a pretty game, it wasn't exciting and it definitely wasn't the Alamo Bowl.

"We got a field goal blocked, we couldn't score a touchdown for a long time," Saban said, "but we just kept on playing."

He admitted it wasn't a perfect game. "I can always find something ugly to talk about," Saban said.

There will be arguments about whether LSU should have been forced to beat Alabama twice in the same season. The Tigers (13-1) won the first meeting, 9-6, on their way to the SEC title and came into this game as the clear-cut No. 1.

So many other contending teams lost, though, that Alabama climbed back into the title race and edged Oklahoma State for No. 2 in the BCS standings by the margin of .0086 points.

The Crimson Tide (12-1) played Monday like a team that got a reprieve from the BCS governor.

"We knew a lot of people said we didn't belong here and that LSU was going to run the ball down our throats," said Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw, named the game's most outstanding defensive player.

There will be arguments over whether LSU Coach Les Miles should have replaced quarterback Jordan Jefferson with Jarrett Lee.

There will be no argument, however, about where Alabama's defensive performance ranks in BCS history.

It goes right at the top.

Oklahoma, in winning the 2000 title, held Florida State without an offensive score in a 13-2 victory.

Nothing else compares.

LSU might be nursing bruises for months.

The Tigers crossed into Alabama territory once, with 71/2 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

LSU was held to 92 total yards and five first downs, only one in the first half.

Alabama's defense limited LSU rushers to 39 yards in 27 carries. LSU's Jefferson completed 11 of 17 passes for only 53 yards.

LSU averaged only 2.1 yards per play, 1.4 per rush.

"It's just us going out and having fun with each other," Upshaw said.

Saban had a different description of his defense.

"They are a hateful bunch," he said.

LSU entered the game on the precipice of being considered one of the best teams of the BCS era. The Tigers, with the exception of the first Alabama game, rolled through their schedule, with convincing nonconference wins over eventual BCS bowl winners Oregon and West Virginia.

"I told my team I did not see this coming, and that's my fault," Miles said afterward.

Scoring?

Oh yeah, that. Alabama got all the points it needed when Jeremy Shelley made a 23-yard field goal in the first quarter. It was set up by a 54-yard punt return by Marquis Maze, who was injured on the play.

Shelley kicked five field goals and might have been the offensive MVP had he not missed an extra point and a field-goal attempt, and had another field-goal try blocked. His makes were from 23, 34, 41, 35 and 44 yards.

The game was already decided when Trent Richardson raced 34-yards for a score with 4:36 left.

That ended an Alabama-LSU touchdown drought that extended back to the Nov. 5 meeting in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, who completed 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards, earned the game's outstanding offensive player award.

McCarron said when he was recruited to Alabama, he made Saban a promise.

"I told him I would lead him to a national championship," he said. "Nobody can ever take that away from me."

McCarron effectively managed the game and kept LSU off balance by throwing on first down.

"I don't think I did anything special, really," he said.

McCarron was right in this respect: this was a game that could have had two defensive MVPs.

LSU could never crack Alabama's defensive code.

Jefferson looked lost at times but Miles elected not to turn to Lee, a senior who led LSU to its first nine wins before Jefferson won his job back after a preseason suspension.

Miles said he didn't want to expose the less mobile Lee to Alabama's ferociousness.

"I thought it would be unfair to him with the pass rush he would sustain," Miles said. "That was my call."

LSU will be back. The Tigers are loaded and might start next season as No. 1.

Some might still think LSU is worthy of a split share of this year's national title.

"The only thing I can tell you is we think we had a great year," Miles said. "That this team had as quality a run as there is in this country. Played eight nationally ranked teams. . . . I think that's for the voters to figure."

Voters in the Associated Press poll made Alabama the national champion, followed by LSU and Oklahoma State.

LSU will be back next season.

The Tigers' problem: so will Alabama.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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