This game was huge. CNBC's Darren Rovell reported this game brought $8 million in revenue to the city of Tuscaloosa. Regulation could not contain these two teams.
The final score of 9-6 may not have been what fans expected, but regardless the game featured hard-hitting action where boys became men and both coaches showed why they are among the elite in the nation.
LSU ultimately prevailed with their superior special teams and defense while battling through offensive struggles early that almost doomed the Bayou Bengals on the road.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the game was the role of the LSU starters. As the old adage goes, expect the unexpected and Les Miles certainly did not expect some of his players to perform as they did. So, how did the starting 22 of LSU fare in the "Game of the Century?"
Jarrett Lee had a rough night.
After the first few plays of looking calm and collected, Alabama remembered they can blitz. Once Lee started facing pressure, his accuracy went down and so did his confidence.
In fact, after a few rough hits and a couple of errant throws, Lee looked pedestrian. The straw that broke the Camel's back was Lee's interception.
After a low snap, Lee failed to check his read and threw the ball directly into the hands of Robert Lester. In the second half, Lee threw another pick in his first snap back, misreading the coverage and throwing right back to Lester.
This was the end of his night.
Lee's stat line of three receptions and 24 yards is only made worse by the fact that Jordan Jefferson came in and led LSU to tie the game.
Spencer Ware's 29 yards and 1.8 yards per carry are just as unimpressive as they sound.
Ware ran hard early. He was forced between the tackles but never stopped moving his feat forward. Even when his blockers did not provide much room to run, Ware plowed ahead and picked up the tough yards.
Nothing much changed for the hard-nosed runner in the second half as Alabama really pressured LSU at the line of scrimmage and contained Ware.
It was not Ware's fault Alabama's defensive line was dominant and that Jordan Jefferson was the most effective runner against the Crimson Tide.
Stampley was all but absent.
Given the title of starter, he was mostly benched in favor of J.C. Copeland who was a lead blocker for the Tigers' runs.
Stampley had no impact on the outcome of the game, somewhat unfortunate for the senior fullback.
Reuben Randle, as well as the other receivers, had little impact on the game, though Randle had the best scoring chance.
Randle dropped a touchdown pass in the endzone at the end of the second quarter that would have given LSU the lead and a huge swing in momentum. True, the catch was not the easiest, but to quote the announcers, "if you want to win the National Championship, you make those catches."
Randle finished with only two catches for a combined 19 yards, nothing to really write home about. If LSU lost, his endzone drop would have landed him a spot in the all-time goats of college sports.
Beckham had no impact on the game as a receiver.
Beckham, like the rest of LSU, struggled due to lack of consistent quarterback play. He did make up for this early on by providing solid blocking on the edge for Jefferson and other running backs.
He only recorded two catches for 16 yards, but as the option game and subsequent outside runs became more successful, his blocking became all the more important.
Peterson struggled in this one statistically because of LSU's need of blockers.
Peterson was not incorporated in the first half game plan at all and was used mostly to protect whomever was the quarterback for the Bayou Bengals. In that effort however, the only time his name was called was when he was beaten on his assigned screen block.
In the second half, Peterson was used in some routes, but utilized as a blocker to provide extra protection for Jordan Jefferson in the passing game.
Chris Faulk could have been the goat of the offensive line, but T-Bob Hebert took that spot. Instead Faulk was simply average.
Faulk was flagged early for a false start and during the rest of the game Faulk struggled to consistently slide and protect whoever was rushing on the edge. The end result was a good number of runs with the option.
Alex Hurst was relatively quiet this game.
He was not flagged for any penalties, but was never leading on blocks. Overall, the inside section of LSU's line provided much better protection than the outside, but Hurst was able to stay relatively strong on his side of field.
Josh Williford may have been a part of the stronger half of the line, but he did have his issues.
Williford did not look good on LSU's goal line stand at the end of the first half, but he otherwise fared decently against Alabama.
Will Blackwell had a decent game for the Tigers.
Blackwell had some great blocks early on screens and goal-line situations, but was flagged for a false start in the third. Overall he really carried the LSU interior line.
Much like the player he was snapping to, T-Bob's night was over before it started.
Hebert and the rest of the offensive line struggled early to hold off the Alabama front seven and it led to Jarrett Lee's struggles. Unfortunately for T-Bob, his night would not get better.
After snapping the ball off the ground in the shotgun to his quarterback, Lee threw an interception to make the play look worse. Hebert was then pulled for P.J. Lonergan.
Hebert came back into the game in the jumbo sets as an additional guard, but never lined up over center again.
Barkevious Mingo not only had the best name on the field, but he had one of the best performances on the line.
While he did not have the big sack or the most big plays, but Mingo consistently forced pressure along the edges and helped shut down the outside running game.
Mingo's name may not have come up a lot, but he was involved in the bottom of many dog piles and was one quarter of the line that shut down Trent Richardson in the second half and overtime.
Montgomery showed that sometimes all you need is one big play to make the grade.
Montgomery had a few missed tackles, but that was a theme with Trent Richardson in the backfield for Alabama. The play of the game for Montgomery and LSU was in overtime.
Montgomery shed his block on third down to penetrate the pocket and sack AJ McCarron for a loss that forced a missed 52-yard field goal.
While Montgomery may not have been the biggest player all game, he stepped up when it mattered most.
Michael Brockers was quiet.
His name was never really mentioned and there really was no mention of the big man in the middle.
He passes because of his unit's effectiveness at shutting down Trent Richardson in the second half and forcing the sack that changed the course of overtime.
Logan showed up big for a half, then faded off as LSU's defense solidified.
Logan had a mixed first half. He blocked Alabama's field goal attempt and made huge tackles on the line. However, he was caught for an egregious face mask that led to an Alabama field goal attempt.
Logan was not able to replicate the same magic in the second half. However, he was able to help anchor a line that contained Richardson and the rest of the Alabama rushing attack that had smoked them in the first half.
The linebacking in general, especially Stephion Francois, remained quiet throughout the game.
Francois had good penetration of the line early, slicing into the backfield in order to make plays, but often was unable to make the tackle. Due to the necessity of men in box, Francois was used to take up space but never really translated this effort into statistics.
Baker made more noise than his other counterparts in the middle of the field.
Baker made a few solid tackles in the middle of the field on Trent Richardson, but for just as many tackles there were instances of the 'Bama back running him over for extra yards. In the second half he continued to be involved in tackles and be at the center of pileups, although it was not as prevalent as the first half.
Poor Kevin Minter was really ineffective.
He had a couple of tackles but nothing else of note.
The linebackers of LSU really had an interesting role where they stuffed the box, but never shed their blocks or were soon run over by Trent Richardson.
Much like Sam Montgomery, Morris Claiborne's impact can be traced back to one play.
Claiborne had a quiet first half but that all changed in the second half. Claiborne grabbed LSU's first turnover of the game when he picked off AJ McCarron and returned the interception to the Alabama 15.
After this pick, Claiborne was part of a shutdown secondary effort that held Alabama scoreless for almost the entire second half.
The "Honey Badger" aka Tyrann Mathieu, had a solid game, but fell victim to his own aggressiveness several times.
Mathieu's play as a solid tackler was just as important as his coverage. He saved a touchdown with spectacular coverage in the endzone, but also made tackles on the quarterback at the line. Furthermore, Mathieu saved another Alabama touchdown with his tackle of Trent Richardson after Brandon Taylor and Eric Reid missed tackles.
Much of the same occurred in the second half. In in the same drive, Mathieu continued to play aggressive and was consistently around the ball, whether in the backfield or secondary.
Brandon Taylor was the second best player in his secondary.
Taylor's aggressive play led to a few missed tackles, one which was just as much Trent Richardson's talent as it was a bad angle. In the second half, he continued to play aggressively.
Twice in the fourth quarter, Taylor blitzed hard and fast up the middle to grab Richardson in the backfield and force Alabama to eventually punt.
Taylor would have been the best member of the secondary if it had not been for the star of the game.
Eric Reid was the star of the game for LSU. In a game where defense dominated, the future NFL safety led his team by example and made the play of the game in the second half.
Reid was all over the field early and often. He was making aggressive tackles in the backfield and in the secondary and was able to return Logan's blocked kick to give LSU favorable field position. While he did take a bad angle on Trent Richardson's long reception, give the Alabama running back credit for the incredible footwork.
Reid only got better in the second half, continuing his aggressive play but showing off his football smarts as well. Reid showed tremendous awareness and athleticism with an interception on the goal line to save a touchdown. This play would be the final time Alabama had a legitimate scoring chance in regulation and Reid's incredible instincts saved an LSU win.
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