The 10 best games of 2011 (as viewed by me) – #6 – LSU vrs. Alabama, November 5, 2011

Rarely do the #1 and the #2 teams in the country play each other during the regular season.  I wrote about it here the week before the game.  LSU and Alabama faced off in Tuscaloosa as the top 2 teams in the country.  Whoever lost this game would likely lose out on a shot at going to the SEC Championship Game and having a shot at an automatic bid for a BCS bowl.  Whoever won the game would have a pretty clear path to the BCS title game.

Neither team gave an inch defensively

Both of these teams were stacked, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.  If you love a good defensive struggle, this was about as good as it gets.  The Crimson Tide missed field goals on their first two positions of the game (44, 50).  Those misses would come back to haunt Alabama.  The Tigers fared no better in the 1st quarter with a punt and an interception by quarterback Jarrett Lee on their first two offensive possessions of the game.  The game was scoreless after 1 quarter.  Alabama’s ensuing drive set up another field goal attempt.  This time it was blocked.  Alabama had three possessions and three unsuccessful field goal attempts.  LSU couldn’t muster up anything on offense and punted for the 2nd time.  Alabama’s offense started to settle in on their 4th possession.  They manufactured a 9 play drive, paced by running back Trent Richardson, to set up yet another field goal attempt.  This time kicker Jeremy Shelley nailed it from 34 yards out for the first score of the game to make it 3-0 Alabama.  LSU got the ball back with 3:53 remaining in the half and finally started to get into a rhythm offensively themselves, engineering a 10 play drive that ended at the Alabama 2.  On 3rd and 2 with only :02 left in the half LSU decided to take the points and tie the game up at 3-3 at the half.

Morris Claiborne's INT set up LSU's game-tying FG

The second half looked a lot like the first half.  LSU could only manage one first down on their first offensive possession of the half before punting it away to Alabama.  Alabama went three and out on their first possession.  On LSU’s next possession Lee threw another interception, setting Alabama up at the LSU 35 yard line.  Alabama could only muster six yards and Cade Foster came back into the game and hit a 46 yard field goal making it 6-3 Alabama.  LSU had another stalled drive and punted back to Alabama.  LSU then finally got a big play from one of their big play makers on defense when cornerback Morris Claiborne intercepted an AJ McCarron pass and took it back to the Alabama 15 yard line.  The Tigers could only muster up two yards of their own after the turnover and settled for a 30 yard field goal to tie the game at 6-6 with 14:13 left.  That was all of the scoring for either team in regulation.  Both teams tried to mount drives against the others’ stout defense as the 4th quarter wore on but neither team had any luck.  The game was tied at 6 at the end of regulation.  There were no offensive touchdowns and only two field goals from each team but we were about to go into overtime and in college you can score a game’s worth of points in the overtime period alone.

LSU celebrated around Alleman after his game winning OT kick

College overtime is one of the most exciting things in sports, up there with a shootout in hockey.  Each team gets the ball at the opponents 25 yard line and if they score the other team gets to match.  It could go on forever.  Eventually they make you go for two point conversions after every touchdown just to get a result.  But this was one of the better defensive games in football in a long time and would remain that way in overtime.  Alabama went backwards on their first overtime possession after a penalty and a sack and Cade Foster missed a field goal from 52 yards out, his third miss of the game.  LSU took the ball and all they needed was a field goal.  They set up the field goal in only two plays, runs of 3 and 15 yards.  They sat on the ball twice and kicker Drew Alleman came in to hit the game winning field goal on 3rd down to give #1 LSU a 9-6 victory over #2 Alabama.

At the end of the day nobody wanted to step up to the #2 position that Alabama vacated, each team who jumped up to #2 would eventually lose and at the end of the regular season Alabama was right back at #2 so we get a re-match between the two teams for the national championship.  Maybe there will be a touchdown in the re-match but I wouldn’t hold my breath.  In five or so years you will look back on this game and be amazed at how many of the players on these two defenses are high level NFL players.  Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu, Dre Kirkpatrick, Donta Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, the list goes on and on.  These two teams will meet again in a few weeks time and decide on a National Champion.  Hopefully the 2nd game will be as good as the 1st.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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