My heart sank as LSU lined up for the field goal on 3rd down in overtime. I wanted a blocked kick recovered by Alabama as much as I wanted the blocked field goal in 2009 vs. Tennessee.
I am fully convinced that there are more options available to the Tide this year than there would have been in 2009. These are some of those options.
Nick Saban shocked me in this game. I normally have been talking to my wife or my father, explaining what I would do if I were the coach, and the person calling plays has done exactly what I would have done.
Tonight was different, the first time being when 'Bama chose not to punt and opted for a 50-yard FG attempt after Foster had already missed a 44-yarder.
'Bama responded on the next LSU possession with a pick on third down. I breathed a little easier then, hoping for a scoring drive. I was not disappointed. Shelley hung a 34-yard FG on the vaunted LSU defense.
I hoped for the best after that. 'Bama appeared to be dominating LSU in terms of scoring opportunities, even if they were just three-point opportunities. We weren't taking drives to the end zone, but we seemed to be crossing midfield at will.
I had high hopes, and they were just dashed. LSU got into the red zone on their next drive. 'Bama stiffened, and LSU settled for a 3-3 tie going into halftime. Recent memories of third- and fourth-quarter play came to mind, and I was hopeful once again.
Maze wasn't mobile enough to field a punt at the 40 that ended up at the 19, which gave LSU a recorded 72-yard punt.
What looked like good field position was anything but. 'Bama played a great game, holding the No. 1 team in the country to a 6-6 tie in regulation. Overtime is something I would rather not discuss, but LSU essentially had our number.
They (and a silly substitution penalty) took us out of FG range on our first OT possession, and kicked a 25-yarder to win in OT.
Option 1: LSU loses two conference games to send the Tide to the SEC Championship. This does not seem likely, but it is the best shot at the BCS National Championship.
I do not want them to lose by much, but the SEC Champion is a shoo-in for the BCS Title Game. As an Alabama fan, of COURSE I'm rooting for National Championship No. 14! We are down, but far from out of this scenario.
If LSU isn't going to lose two, then I don't want them to lose one. I want our conference to shine with six national championships in a row. It will be better in the long run...when we run the table next year.
Option 2 is the 'Bama-LSU rematch in January, which I was not in favor of until this game delivered the lowest score total in my short lifetime.
I think that these are the best two teams in the nation, and nobody can convince me otherwise. If either team dominated, I would concede that they were the better team. Zero touchdowns, and no points until the last half of the second quarter is definitely not a result of either team dominating.
For this rematch to happen, Oklahoma State needs to lose to Oklahoma, and Stanford needs to lose to Oregon. It would help if Boise State lost, as well, but I don't think that it is completely necessary.
Alabama taking LSU to overtime, and still not allowing them a TD speaks to their strength as a team. I believe we have two National Champions in the SEC West this year, and it is just a shame that they exist in the same year. This does not happen often.
Option 3 is a decent consolation prize for me, and only for one major reason.
After losing a heartbreaker to Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship Game, Alabama went on to play Utah in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama was disappointed to be there, and played like they didn't want to be there at all.
Utah took down Alabama, and handed the Boise supporters a valid argument: "If Utah can do it, why can't we have the chance?"
I would like a National Championship more than a Sugar Bowl, but would settle for stomping Boise in an embarrassing manner, forever silencing the non-AQ voices. We are not "preferred" conferences. We are proven conferences.
Come join us, and we will gladly let you earn the respect you deserve on the field week-in and week-out. I believe respect is earned, not given, but would gladly take the field against the Broncos to let them try to earn their stripes.
Alabama fans are definitely special. What other team considers a 10-3 season with a bowl victory (2010) sub-par? We are always looking for the next National Championship. Enough is never enough for us.
However, throughout the years, it has been proven that it's only a matter of time and patience before we are in the hunt again.
From 1925 and 1926, when we proved that the South knew football, and a championship wasn't a fluke, to 2009, the championship that ended a 16-year drought at the Capstone, we know we are winners at heart, generation to generation.
This 'Bama fan just smiles, knowing that I went from 10 to 26 years old between 'Bama championships, and that will probably not happen again anytime soon.
We are down, but not out, 'Bama fans. Keep smiling, and RTR!