Saturday night's clash between the #1 Louisiana State University Tigers and the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide was among the most memorable games in college football history. In the end, LSU won in Bama's house in overtime, 9-6, securing for another week its position atop the BCS standings.
No doubt about it, these are the most athletic teams in college football. Both teams are flush with huge size, brute strength and blistering speed at most every position. Each team has several first round NFL picks on their roster.
Going into the game Alabama had the nation's top ranked defense and LSU was close behind. Therefore, it was no surprise that their showdown, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, would be a bruising slugfest.
Alabama failed to cash in on several opportunities. Three missed field goals topped the list. Alabama's field goal kicking was awful, and Bama coach Nick Saban had to alternate kickers. But their kick receiving squad also came up short, literally. LSU was pinned deep in their own territory late in the game when their punter, Australian Brad Wing, boomed a 72-yard punt over the head of a hapless Tide returnman.
The play of the game came on a promising Alabama drive into LSU territory. After building some momentum running the ball against LSU's defense, Alabama tried a bit of trickery. While under pressure their star receiver, Marquis Maze, attempted a long pass toward the LSU endzone. As his off-balance throw floated toward Bama receiver Michael Williams, LSU safety Eric Reid quickly got into position.
Reid made an amazing interception that saved the day for LSU. Here's how the Alabama "Rollbamaroll" website describes it, "Michael Williams went up for the football like an 80-year old sales clerk going up to get something off the top shelf of a department store. A 6'7, 265 pound tight end simply cannot lose a jump ball to a 6'2, 210 pound safety. Period. Terrible decision, terrible execution, disastrous result."
Bama also committed too many silly penalties, like "twelve men on the field" and "blocking in the back." But when the game entered overtime Alabama seemed to lose focus and drive. A missed pass, a penalty and a disastrous sack left the Tide with a 52-yard field goal attempt, which fell short.
The Tigers got the ball on the 25-yard line, needing only a field goal to win. LSU coach Les Miles, "The Mad Hatter", called for an option play to the left that almost resulted in a touchdown. Two plays later the Tigers scored a game winning field goal that immediately quieted the disheartened Alabama home crowd.
LSU found a way to win. They were able to pull off several truly outstanding plays during the game. Their energy and enthusiasm was palpable throughout the contest. They consistently played with swagger. Inevitably, this is what separates a winner from the rest.
About 20 million viewers watched LSU's victory over Alabama, the highest rated regular season college football game in a quarter century. 101,000 fans packed the Alabama stadium while tens of thousands tailgated outside. It was the season's most highly anticipated college football match up. An enormous amount was at stake; pride, rivalry and a national title game in New Orleans this coming January. As a result of the game LSU maintained its #1 ranking but Alabama slipped to #4 in the AP poll. This means a rematch between these two titans is unlikely in the BCS championship game.
Nonetheless, the LSU-Alabama showdown will long be remembered one of the great college football games of all time.