Alabama shuts out LSU in title game

Alabama 21, LSU 0

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NEW ORLEANS  — As required, Alabama's players whooped it up amid the confetti and fireworks, yet there was something muted about this championship celebration.

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LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson is brought down by a swarm of Alabama defenders. The Crimson Tide are the first team to record a shutout in the BCS title game. They held the Tigers to 92 yards and five first downs.  GERALD HERBERT/ASSOCIATED PRESS
GERALD HERBERT/ASSOCIATED PRESS
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson is brought down by a swarm of Alabama defenders. The Crimson Tide are the first team to record a shutout in the BCS title game. They held the Tigers to 92 yards and five first downs.

Turns out, these guys knew the ending to the sequel before they even got to the Big Easy.

For two months, the Crimson Tide stewed over its first meeting with top-ranked LSU. By the time the team touched down in New Orleans, there was little doubt in anyone's mind about the outcome. Not just win, but dominate.

Boy, did they ever.

With a smothering display of old-school football, No. 2 Alabama blew out the Tigers 21-0 in the BCS championship game Monday night, celebrated a bit and headed back to Tuscaloosa with its second national title in three years.

The Crimson Tide also claimed the top spot in the final Associated Press poll for the eighth time, tying Notre Dame for the most of any team in college football. Coach Nick Saban's team was an overwhelming choice with 55 of 60 first-place votes.

"We knew what we were capable of," offensive lineman Barrett Jones said. "I guess that's kind of arrogant, but it's the way we felt. We felt like we were capable of dominating, and we did that."

Credit one of the greatest defenses in college football history, a bunch of NFL-ready players such as Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower who made sure LSU (13-1) never had a chance.

When Jordan Jefferson dropped back to pass, he was swept under by a tide of crimson. When the LSU quarterback took off running, he must've felt like Alabama had a few extra players on the field. It sure seemed that way.

"It feels like a nightmare," Jefferson said. "We just didn't get it done on offense. Some defenses have your number, and Alabama had our number."

LSU beat the Crimson Tide (12-1) in overtime on Nov. 5, a so-called Game of the Century that was roundly criticized as a dud because neither team scored a touchdown.

The Rematch of the Century was next, after Alabama worked its way back up to second in the rankings to claim a spot in the BCS title game. Turns out, it was even less of a classic than the first meeting, much closer to "Speed 2" than the "Godfather II."

But the Alabama defense was a thing of beauty, putting its own spin on this postseason of high-scoring shootouts.

"They are unbelievable," said Jones, relieved that he only has to go against them in practice. "That defense is as good as any defense I've ever seen. They rush the passer, they have awesome linebackers and they're great in coverage. They really don't have any weaknesses. They have to be as good as any defense ever."

LSU didn't cross midfield until there were less than 8 minutes remaining in the game. The Tigers finished with just 92 yards and five first downs, on the wrong end of the first shutout in the BCS' 14-year history.

"This defense is built on stopping them, and that's what we did," said Upshaw, the game's defensive MVP. "We wanted to come out and show the world we beat ourselves the first game. We wanted to come out and dominate from start to finish, and that's what we did."

The Crimson Tide, piling up 384 yards and 21 first downs, spent much of the night in LSU's end of the field, setting up Jeremy Shelley to attempt a bowl-record seven field goals. He made five of them, matching a bowl record. Then, as if responding to all the critics who complained that an offensive powerhouse such as Oklahoma State or Stanford should've gotten a shot in the title game, Alabama finally made a long-overdue trip to the end zone.

With 4:36 remaining, Heisman finalist Trent Richardson broke off a 34-yard touchdown run.

It was the lone TD that either of the Southeastern Conference powerhouses managed over two games, plus that overtime period back in November.

"It felt so good to get that touchdown against LSU," lineman D.J. Fluker said. "That's all we talked about. We said we were going to get (Richardson) a touchdown, and we did it."

On LSU's one and only trip into Alabama territory, the Tigers quickly went back, back, back — the last gasp ending appropriately with the beleaguered Jefferson getting the ball jarred from his hand before he could even get off a fourth-and-forever pass.

"We didn't do a lot different," Saban said. "We did some things on offense formationally. Our offensive team did a great job. Defensively, we just played well, played the box. Our special teams did a great job."

The coach has now won a pair of BCS titles at Alabama, plus another at LSU in 2003. He's the first coach to win three BCS titles, denying LSU's Les Miles his second championship. The Tigers will have to settle for the SEC title, but that's not likely to ease the sting of this ugly performance.

"I told my team that it should hurt," Miles said. "We finished second. It's supposed to hurt."

LSU simply couldn't do anything — running or passing. Kenny Hilliard led the Tigers with 16 yards rushing, while Jefferson was 11 of 17 passing for 53 yards, usually hurrying away passes before he was sent tumbling to the Superdome turf. He was sacked four times and threw a mystifying interception when he attempted to flip away a desperation pass, only to have it picked off because his intended receiver had already turned upfield looking to block.

A.J. McCarron was the offensive MVP, completing 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards. Richardson added 96 yards on 20 carries. But an even bigger cheer went up when the defensive award was presented to Upshaw, who had seven tackles, including a sack, and spent a good part of his night in the LSU backfield.

"The whole defense is the MVP," Upshaw said. "The whole defense. Roll Tide, baby. Roll Tide!"

With the way his defense was playing, McCarron simply had to avoid mistakes and guide the offense into field-goal range. He did that to perfection.

"When you have a great offensive line like I have, and great players around you, it makes your job easy as quarterback," McCarron said. "I've got to give all the credit to them. I wish I could have the whole team up here."

While LSU was used to getting big plays from its Honey Badger, cornerback and return specialist Tyrann Mathieu, Marquis Maze dealt the first big blow for the Crimson Tide with a 49-yard punt return midway through the opening quarter. He might've gone all the way to the end zone if not for a leg injury that forced him to pull up. Punter Brad Wing was the only defender left to beat, but Maze had to hobble out of bounds.

McCarron completed a 16-yard pass to Darius Hanks at the LSU 10, setting up Shelley for a 23-yard chip shot field goal. If nothing else, Alabama had accomplished one of its goals coming into the game: to at least get close enough to the end zone for its embattled kickers to have a better chance of converting.

In the first meeting, Shelley and Cade Foster combined to miss four field goals — all of them from at least 44 yards. In the do-over, Foster handled kickoffs while Shelley also connected from 34, 41, 35 and 44 yards. Not that it was a flawless kicking performance. Shelley had another kick blocked and pushed another wide right. In addition, he clanged the extra point off the upright after Richardson's touchdown.

It didn't matter.

LSU's best weapon was Wing, who averaged nearly 46 yards on nine punts. That was about the only highlight for the purple and gold, which failed to match its BCS title game victories in 2003 and 2007, the last two times the game was played in New Orleans, about 80 miles from its Baton Rouge campus.

"We couldn't sustain any consistency," Miles said.

Miles never considered switching to backup quarterback Jarrett Lee, who started the first eight games for the Tigers — four of those while Jefferson was serving a suspension for his involvement in a bar fight.

In all likelihood, it wouldn't have mattered.

Not against an Alabama team that was determined to write a different ending.

"We fell short the first time and we didn't play well," safety Mark Barron said, "but we showed that we were the better team tonight. We shut them out."

Comments (20) Add comment
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Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/10/12 - 12:59 am
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The teams are tied 1-1. LSU

The teams are tied 1-1.

LSU has a better record overall.

That's why Bama might have won the championship, but LSU is still the championship team.

cruiser93
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cruiser93 01/10/12 - 01:55 am
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LSU got spaaaaaanked !!!!

LSU got spaaaaaanked !!!!

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 01/10/12 - 04:40 am
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Much better game than earlier

Much better game than earlier in the season. Alabama's defense just too much for the Tigahs! Insider? Let it go. To lose the very last game of the season does stink, but thems the rules.

Techfan
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Techfan 01/10/12 - 06:43 am
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I didn't give a hoot who won,

I didn't give a hoot who won, and came pretty close to not even watching the game. If last night's fiasco doesn't push the NCAA into having a playoff, nothing will. Alabama may be the best team in college football (even though they split 1-1 with LSU), but we'll never know. The BCS is rigged, not to find the best college teams, but to maximize profits for the bowls. It's a disgrace.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 01/10/12 - 07:58 am
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The goal is to determine the

The goal is to determine the best team. Who could argue, successfully, that Alabama isn't?

Techfan
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Techfan 01/10/12 - 08:24 am
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And that's based on?

And that's based on? Sportswriters votes, a rigged BCS system? That they split the series with LSU? Could Boise, Houston, or OK State put up 30-60 points on them? We'll never know. All you have to do under the current system is to 1. Be an SEC team (you'll be ranked at the top to start the season), 2. Not lose a game (or even lose one). They're may be 8 undefeated teams behind them, but they'll never get a shot.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 01/10/12 - 08:47 am
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Rigged? How? Let's see LSU

Rigged? How? Let's see LSU scored 40 plus points on 5 teams ranked in the top 20. Including the Rose Bowl winner and the Orange Bowl winner. In two games, they scored 9 pts on Alabama. Alabama gave up 9 TDs all year!! Clemson, you know, your ACC Champ, gave up 10 in one game. Houston? They gave up 49 point to someone called Southern Miss? They deserved a shot over Alabama?? Boise? Maybe, but they lost and not to the #2 team in the land by 3 pts. OK State? Again, they lost badly to a terrible team with a losing record. That's the great thing about College Football today....every game counts. In the NFL you can lose to a far inferior team and still win it all. In College, you better bring it every Saturday.

follower
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follower 01/10/12 - 08:51 am
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As in the past, if 2 teams

As in the past, if 2 teams have a rematch for the farsical National Title, the loser in the regular season wins the rematch. Tied at a win apiece, let's play one more. Course, it aint gonna happen. But it should.

And techfan, while I don't believe Boise or Houston would have a chance against an Alabama, you're right, we'll never know. It's takes away any chance for a Cinderella to have the slipper fit. College football is the only sport that doesn't have a playoff. Ridiculous.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 01/10/12 - 09:08 am
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follower, seriously, you want

follower, seriously, you want a "Cinderella" type team in the final game? Really? Shouldn't the final game be between two "titans"? Can you really present an argument that LSU or Alabama should not have played so we could watch a game between a "Titan" and a team that you admit probably wouldn't win....but, hey, might?

Techfan
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Techfan 01/10/12 - 09:25 am
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Who the heck said Clemson

Who the heck said Clemson deserved a shot? Heck, even we beat them).OK State, Houston, Boise, Stanford, (and others) how about them? So Bama was 1st in points againt (some good teams, but also Kent State 5-7, North Texas 5-7, Fla. 7-6, Vandy 6-7, Ole Miss 2-10, Tenn 5-7, Miss State 7-6, Ga Southern good team but different division). How about putting the #1 scoring defense againt the #1 or #2 scoring offense? Heck LSU got hammered and still ended up ranked #2. It's bull.

Techfan
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Techfan 01/10/12 - 09:33 am
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When the so called

When the so called "Cinderella" teams rack up 40-60 points per game, are ranked in the top few spots in total offense, are ranked in the top 5, you're dang right they deserve a chance. When the big schools and big bucks are with the SEC, they'll never get that chance. They could get through a 32 team playoff in 5 weeks, and even the Johnson and Johnson Tampax Bowl would matter.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 01/10/12 - 09:43 am
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Oregon racks up 40-60 points

Oregon racks up 40-60 points per game. How did they do against an SEC type defense? Oh, they lost by 4+ touchdowns. I addressed Okie State, Houston, and Boise earlier. Again, they all lost to inferior teams. Had they not, they would have had a shot. We are not going to settle this. But, again Alabama is a very deserving Champ. No one can prove otherwise.

follower
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follower 01/10/12 - 11:24 am
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JTF, I'm not saying Bama

JTF, I'm not saying Bama isn't #1. I'm saying that we'll never know if a Cinderella team would or wouldn't be able to beat Bama or LSU because there is no playoff. A playoff would at least give 6-8 teams that don't play in the SEC a chance to show what they could do. And by the way, I'm a huge SEC fan, and firmly believe it's the best conference in the nation.

Instead of all the stupid bowl games that nobody, well few, watch, starting in the middle of Dec., there could be 8 ceded teams that determine a true champ, no questions asked. That's only 3 weeks of playoffs.

Again, College football is the only sport that doesn't have a playoff. It would remove the stupid politics.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 01/10/12 - 11:45 am
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follower, I understand the

follower, I understand the playoff arguments. I respect that point of view. Just a couple of points. The BCS, with all it's flaws, tries to determine the very best team in any given year. In spite of all the flaws, I think they usually get it right. If Alabama, after playing their regular SEC schedule, and the SEC Championship game, loses one of those three playoff games to Idaho State, who has had a much easier road to the playoff, are you really going to tell me that Idaho is the best team in the country? I believe more in a body of work vs a "Cinderella" moment. Who is going to decide these 8/12/16 teams that will play in the playoffs? What about team #9? They will be screaming, "It's all politics", we were more deserving..... Lastly, who going to attend these playoffs? Is a LSU fan suppose to fly out to Utah and then Dallas, and then finally back to ATL? Come on. of course not. So, it becomes a corporate event much like the Super Bowl. I have been to numerous Super Bowls. The only one I cared about who won was the 98 game with ATL. The others I went just because my Company paid my way. That's the case for 50K of the 60K people there. People sit on their hands, except for when something exciting happens. It's basically a snore fest. Did you see that atmosphere last night? I fear we would lose that.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 01/10/12 - 11:59 am
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follower/Tech, in the end,

follower/Tech, in the end, you guys will get your way. Playoffs are coming.

follower
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follower 01/10/12 - 12:02 pm
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Your points are well taken.

Your points are well taken. But does OK. State have an argument for Alabama not winning the SEC championship? Yes. That said, I do believe the best teams played last night, although it certainly didn't seem it was the same LSU team we've seen all year.

I don't have a dog in this fight, mine lost the first two games of the year, and certainly didn't deserve to play on last nights stage. But remember just a few years ago when the Dawgs were arguably one of the two best teams in the nation, but had to settle for thrashing Ha. in the Sugar bowl. The talk then was that they didn't deserve to be there because they didn't win the SEC championship. And while they ended up ranked #2 in the nation, they didn't get a chance to play for #1.

It's a debate that will be brought up every year until style points and schedule strength are only the determining factor to who plays in a playoff.

follower
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follower 01/10/12 - 12:04 pm
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JTF, it's not my way. It's

JTF, it's not my way. It's the fair way.

justthefacts
24972
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justthefacts 01/10/12 - 01:20 pm
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"But does OK. State have an

"But does OK. State have an argument for Alabama not winning the SEC championship". No. There is no rule that you have to win your conference. UGA was shafted. Two wrongs don't make a right. Surely you wouldn't endorse adding that rule (you have to win your conference). If so, what you are saying is, even though we see that AL has the best resume in the country, because they lost by 3 pts to #1 ranked LSU, West Va.(Big Least conf champ) who lost at home to LSU by 3 touchdowns get to go. Fair?

follower
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follower 01/10/12 - 01:40 pm
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JTF, no no no, I'm not saying

JTF, no no no, I'm not saying a conference win is the only way. As it turns out, the best teams played for the title IMHO. But as we see, we'll never know if Ok State, Boise, or Houston could play with the big boys.

If Oregon had not lost late in the year, would you have been for a rematch? If Boise hadn't lost, would they deserve to play?

An 8 team playoff seems to be the only way to answer that issue. Until then, the debate will never end.

Enjoyed the conversation!

justthefacts
24972
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justthefacts 01/10/12 - 01:47 pm
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OK. Oregon no, Boise, yes. I

OK. Oregon no, Boise, yes. I would hate to be that 9th team. Wish we had done this over beer. Have a great day.

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