TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Game of the Century turned into a game of opportunities missed and taken.
Beyond all of Alabama’s stalled drives and four failed field goals, No. 1 Louisiana State University made the kind of plays that can sometimes supply the sliver of difference needed to continue on the path to a national title.
The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide didn’t in that 9-6 overtime defeat in a 1 vs. 2 matchup Saturday night.
“That was the difference in the game,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “We had the ball inside the 30-yard line how many times? And didn’t get but six points. That’s the difference in the game.”
In just about every national championship team has one great escape, this might have been LSU’s.
A handful of plays made the difference.
•The pick. Wide receiver Marquis Maze’s pass after taking the direct snap appeared to settle into the arms of tight end Michael Williams at the goal line four minutes into the fourth quarter. Safety Eric Reid wrestled the ball away as the 6-foot-6, 269-pounder fell backward.
• Wing and a prayer. Australian punter Brad Wing took away Alabama’s field position edge after a subsequent defensive stand. The punt sailed over Maze’s head and went an extra 20 yards – totaling 73.
Wing twice buried the Tide inside its 5 with earlier kicks.
• The flag. The Tide had a potentially game-changing interception in a 3-3 game in the third quarter. Mark Barron returned an interception inside LSU’s 5-yard line, but nose guard Josh Chapman was flagged for a block in the back.
“We made a few mistakes, but we made less than they did, and they’re a very good team,” LSU guard Will Blackwell said. “I hope we don’t have to play them again.”