Alabama football BCS national championship commemorative section: Another look at Crimson Tide's victory over LSU Tigers

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerJanuary 15, 2012 

NEW ORLEANS -- A year of tragedy and renewal in Alabama officially ended with extra redemption.

And a 14th national title.

The Crimson Tide left no questions in Round 2 with LSU when the stakes were raised. A 21-0 pounding in the BCS title game Monday saw Alabama avenge its only loss -- winning with exactly what doomed it the first time.

Kicker Jeremy Shelley nailed five field goals while the Tide defense flattened the LSU offense in front of an evenly split Superdome crowd. The top-ranked Tigers managed just 92 yards to Alabama’s 384 and didn’t cross the 50 until late in the fourth quarter, when the outcome was decided.

Senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw was named most outstanding defensive player with seven tackles and one of four Alabama sacks.

“I don’t see how it can get any better than that,” said senior safety Mark Barron, who had two tackles and a sack. “We had a goose-egg on the board, and we finished the whole way. I just feel like we came out and dominated.”

The historic defensive effort capped a surreal year for those in Tuscaloosa and around the state.

“With everything that happened in April, it was sad, but I think the fact we brought this trophy back to Tuscaloosa, it means a lot,” senior wide receiver Brandon Gibson said, referencing the tornado that took several lives. “I can’t ask for anything better than this.”

Trent Richardson supplied the icing with 4:36 left with a 34-yard touchdown -- Alabama’s first against LSU in seven quarters.

The Alabama offense was effective yet without a touchdown until the closing moments after a significant injury. Leading receiver Marquis Maze was injured on the play that set the tone for the night. His 49-yard punt return snatched early momentum that LSU never threatened to take.

Still, Alabama nibbled but didn’t take a full bite. The rematch was turning into a rewind. Drives stalled deep in Tiger territory, but unlike the 9-6 overtime loss to LSU on Nov. 5, Alabama made its kicks.

Shelley set a bowl record with seven attempts and made five after combining with Cade Foster to miss four of six tries in Tuscaloosa. Foster didn’t attempt a kick in the rematch.

“Once I hit that first one, it was a huge weight off my chest,” Shelley said. “The rest of the time, it was just stepping back and putting it through.”

Richardson, a Heisman Trophy finalist, was contained most of the night. He still ran for 96 yards on 20 carries.

And quarterback AJ McCarron and the Tide receivers supplied the punch when needed.

McCarron went 23-for-34 for 234 yards while Kevin Norwood emerged as the go-to receiver without Maze. Norwood, who went seven straight games without a catch, hauled in four passes for a game-high 78 yards.

“We’ve been leaning on No. 3 all year. He’s our workhorse. I mean, he’s our main guy,” said McCarron, the offensive MVP. “And we knew coming into the game somebody else had to step up, and coach just gave me an opportunity. Like I said, when you have a group of receivers like I have, makes your job easy as a quarterback. And you just got to put it in their area.”

Of course, it only took three points to win Monday.

The 92 LSU yards was the second-lowest total in BCS history. Only Ohio State’s 82 in the 2007 national title game loss to Florida was worse.

Alabama’s top-ranked defense cemented its legacy by holding the Tigers’ four-pronged running attack to 39 yards on 27 tries. Kenny Hilliard’s 16 led the way while quarterback Jordan Jefferson was sacked four times and netted just 15.

Alabama had nearly an 11-minute advantage in time of possession.

It controlled the ball for 19:48 of the first half while out-gaining the Tigers 225-43.

Alabama took the first lead after shifting field position with a big play on special teams. Maze took a first-quarter punt 49 yards to the LSU 26 after neither team did much offensively early.

But, as in the first meeting, the Tide offense stalled in touchdown range. A run for no gain, incomplete pass and a short Brad Smelley catch set up Shelley’s 26-yard field goal that put Alabama up 3-0 with 5 minutes left in the first quarter.

A perfectly faked field goal on the next Tide possession had Alabama in position for another score early in the second quarter. But another flashback to Nov. 5 went LSU’s way when Michael Brockers blocked Shelley’s 42-yard attempt three plays after the trick play. Shelley had a 49-yarder blocked in the first meeting.

Then it was Richardson who put Alabama in position for its second score. A 20-yard run put the ball at the 25 yard-line, but again, LSU held. Eddie Lacy was thrown for a 1-yard loss on third-and-1 at the 15 and Shelley’s 34-yarder made it 6-0 with 4:18 left in the half.

One more kick, a 41-yarder, sent the Tide to halftime leading 9-0.

Two more and a Richardson touchdown later, Alabama had revenge and a 14th national title.

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