LSU vs. Alabama: 5 Reasons the Game of the Century Lived Up to the Hype
In some ways, it was a classic. In other ways, it wasn't. LSU's 9-6 overtime win over Alabama did nothing to dispute the overwhelming sentiment that the Tigers and Crimson Tide are the two best teams in the country. Conversely, the game had untimely penalties, sloppy special teams play and two very average quarterbacks.
With two weeks leading up to the game, the tussle in Tuscaloosa received levels of coverage and analysis normally reserved only for national championship games. As a whole, the game played out the way we hoped and thought it would. Here are five reasons why LSU-Alabama lived up to its unprecedented hype.
The two defenses in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night were the best two in the country, and it's not even close. Running between the tackles was next to impossible. Alabama has the best running back in the country and LSU has the deepest backfield, but it didn't matter.
LSU only had some success after Jordan Jefferson entered the game and the speed option play became a staple of the game plan. The Tide was at its best when they could get Trent Richardson the ball in space, often on plays that looked like they came from a Bill Walsh playbook.
The offenses aren't 2008 Oklahoma, but both units are loaded with talented players. That wasn't bad offense on Saturday night. It was simply two legendary defenses doing what they do best.
We were waiting for it, but it never happened. Les Miles left his famous gadgetry in the locker room, but the feeling that some sort of trick play was inevitable added to the game's drama.
He nearly had a classic Miles gaffe just before halftime, but was able to get a timeout called with one second left in order to attempt a game-tying field goal. The Mad Hatter played the game close to the vest, but despite the lack of fakes and reverses, his history of head-scratching decisions kept everyone on the edge of their seats.
Richardson is the best running back in the country. Despite a subpar statistical night, the junior once again displayed how dangerous and physical he can be.
His 3.9 yards per carry and no touchdowns aren't exactly Heisman-esque numbers, but he was also the team's leading receiver and helped position Alabama for multiple scoring opportunities. LSU rarely misses tackles, but Richardson turned a number of short gains into big plays. If only he could kick too.
We knew Richardson would have an impact. We knew Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne would shut down the Alabama receivers. What we didn't know, however, was what the role of Jefferson would be.
As it turns out, Jarrett Lee picked the wrong time to revert to this 2008 form, and Miles put the game in the hands of Jefferson in the second half. His mobility allowed LSU to adjust their game plan and throw Alabama off-balance. Big plays were few, but Jefferson moved the chains and avoided the big mistakes.
While the college football overtime system receives its share of criticism, its drama is unmatched, and a coin toss never decides the winner. Yes, LSU benefited from starting on defense, but Alabama lost because they dropped a screen pass, had too many men in the huddle and took a terrible sack on third down.
After the Tide came up empty on its possession, what would LSU do? Would Miles take a shot at the end zone like only he would do? As it turned out, LSU simply got one first down, centered the ball and kicked a chip shot field goal for the win. However, it didn't take away from the sometimes unappreciated beauty of college overtime.