Okay, the Monday Night of this game signifies my first class as a grad student. After talking to my professor, I discovered that due to the new structure of classes (they meet once a week for three hours) that we sadly can’t grab the syllabus and be home in time for kick off. With that said, I plan on doing a quarter by quarter reaction to this game to post at the end of this one. However, the end of this game will be a couple hours later than it is for the rest of you, as I’m avoiding all updates and will start the thing on my DVR when I get home to watch it “live.” Before I attend class, I wanted to at least present these pre-game observations and thoughts. Check this post at some point tomorrow to get the rest of my reactions.
- Prediction #1: With these two teams, I’m sure we can expect another low scoring affair; however, this bowl season has taught us that established facts throughout the season do not apply to regular season games. I fully expect LSU to win by two possessions. People that know me have know that I’ve surmised this prediction for a couple for weeks now. Final Score: Bayou Honey Badgers 24 Crimson Sad Frat Boys 14. I say this for one important reason: LSU is a much better ball club than Alabama. The “Game of the Century” on 11/5 took place in Tuscaloosa. While many would argue that Alabama outperformed LSU for most of the night and were a successfully made field goal away from a different outcome, LSU found a way to win this game. For most of the night, Bama’s offense ran into a brick wall on the 30 and LSU had great success running the option game outside the tackles. I honestly don’t believe 30+ days of preparation are going to change things. Bama is going to have to get Jefferson shaky early to make an impact or luck into things like they did two years ago with Colt McCoy.
- Prediction #2: This bowl season has been a graveyard for established, skilled field goal kickers. That is why I’m predicting that both Foster and Shelley will make every kick they attempt and Bama’s special teams will have one of their best nights of the season. If you lose, you have no excuses this go around, Bammers.
- Observation #1: One of the ironically hilarious facts I read heading into this game was that this would be a Big XII Officiating crew. The Big XII is the same conference that has a valid argument to have replaced Alabama as LSU opponent for this National title Game. Big XII Officials have been known to have some shady Biased tendencies in the past. Just ask Nebraska and Texas A&M fans about this one.
- Observation #2: I’m carrying this one over from their first meeting. AJ McCarron (with much credit to his stellar offensive line) has yet to be tested and take his first good “welcome to the big time, kid’ knockout blow of a hit. I firmly believe the first time he faces a hit like this will leave him shaken for a couple of good days. Bama’s O-Line is going to have to step up as they did the first go around against LSU’s dangerous front seven (Seriously, Bama fans, I’m jealous of your o-line as an Auburn fan this year.)
- Observation #3: Both schools have a legacy of b.eing close to unbeatable in the Super Dome. Bama also has a long tradition of not losing games that lead to National Championships. LSU has a history of playing all of their national title games in this stadium. Given the LSU factor is more consistent over the past ten years, I’m going Advantage LSU.
- Observation #4: Two most important statistics for Alabama fans tonight. 1) Trent Richardson +/- 110 yards. I think if he can break 110 yards rushing… he will vastly exceed that number and my LSU prediction will be shot down. If he doesn’t hit this number, he will not break the century mark and Bama’s in for a long night . 2) Turnover differential. LSU wins games by winning this battle. If Alabama can claim the scoreboard in this one stat, they will more than likely claim National Title #9 or #14 (depending on how you count).
With that said, enjoy the game. I wish the best of luck to my friends on both sides of the aisle. I’ll be the casual bystander who enjoys watching the game played to its pinnacle.
- Given that I’m going to be about a quarter behind everyone due to class, my DVR didn’t not record the pregame festivities and I am watching this directly from kick off. Interesting choice from ESPN early-on as the early camera angles make this look like it’s a pro-Bama crowd. With this in New Orleans, I would have guessed otherwise. It’ll be interesting if this is just an initial observation or if the LSU portion of the SuperDome begins to show itself.
- Musberger and Herbstreit are your ESPN/ABC A-Crew. Here’s hoping that Brent sounds more invested in this game than the one he called a year ago. The kickoff from Foster is met by Claiborne teasing a slash up the middle and then nearly getting decapitated. I don’t think LSU special teams are used to being on the receiving end of these hits.
- Not a great start for LSU in the opening drive. Jordan Jefferson muffing the snap on third was huge, as I would count on McCarron to be the more easily shaken, but Jefferson seems intent on proving my wrong from the onset. The other factor here is that he has no Jarrett Lee to fall back on this time. Stay Tuned.
- Stephen Clark did a great job for Auburn this year as punter, but I’d wager that Brad Wing has started a trend of Aussie Punters/Kickers in football. He truly is the best punter in college football.
- Two first downs early for Bama. Jim McElwain does not get enough credit from Bama fans over the years for his ability to manage the limited capabilites of his quarterbacks. He’s done a great job using AJ early on here.
- Bama’s offense picks up where it left off on November 5th. Picks up a couple of first downs. Teases a scoring drive, and then the speeed of LSU’s defense enables them to prevent the big play. Richardson’s elusiveness nearly garnered a third first down. His ability to create yardage like he did on that third down shows why he’s a highly sought after back at the next level.
- I may have missed something in the opening two drives. If you had LSU picked to commit the first penalty in a prop bet, please collect your prize.
- Embarrassing drive for the LSU offense there. Bama came prepared for the option. Courtney Upshaw may have dodged a horse collar penalty there.
- Why have coaches not figured out that you don’t punt to Bama returners? Arenas a couple seasons ago in unison with Maze and Hanks this year. Maze should have taken that one to the house if he hamstring didn’t quit this early in the game. I guess his ankle is reminding his body of the first time he met LSU this season.
- Return from the break confirms that Maze’s hamstring injury appears to be more than a cramp. Bama takes control of the field position battle with about 6:55 left in the first. This is the area that burnt them back in November. Does the end zone exist for them against this defense?
- It’s interesting that Herbstreit behaves like this is a rarity that Alabama leads first down with the pass. This is not the first time that McElwain has tried to let the pass dictate the run. Early on the pass has been more effective. Will Saban and Co key on this or will LSU adapt? Saban’s inability to veer off his philosophy says that could hamper things.
- In other news, Shelley makes my Field Goal prediction start off true: Bama 3 LSU 0. Bama kickers are 1 for 1.
- Claiborne’s second return is just as painful. Do you think he’s begging the coaching staff to keep him away from kick offs after that hit? Ouch!
- If you’re playing a drinking game, LSU’s off the field issues have been mentioned twice. Take two drinks and then take a third one because I’m sure you’ll miss some.
- In other news, Les Miles is looking for Jarrett Lee and debating on caving on that knee/jerk reaction. Another bad drive for Jordan Jefferson. LSU has blown people out, but let’s not forget their offense has looked suspect in the first half in many of those games. See: Auburn & Arkansas games for points of reference.
- 2:35 left int he first and the good news for LSU’s defense is that this Bama offense has to drive 89 yards, starting from a little past their own ten yard line. Tiger Stadium faithful are getting loud hoping to find blood int he water. Stay tuned!
- In a shocking early turn of events, LSU is losing the penalty battle early. 2 penalties to none and Maze is trotting back onto the sidelines. That has to be good news for Harvey Updyke’s bretheren. In fairness, he had no business being on the field the last go around after hurting his ankle. Another development to watch out for.
- Did Norwood get inbounds on that amazing catch over Honey Badger? Replay makes it appear so. Wow, momentum on the first camera angle made it appear that he forced himself out of bounds as we leave the first quarter.
- First Quarter quick thoughts: If I’m a Bama fan, a touchdown to start the quarter could be what makes or breaks this game. Being the de-facto road team is a lot like being the heel/bad guy in a pro wrestling match growing up. Your whole purpose is to leave the crowd finding themselves not engaged in the action. A bored, disenchanted crowd is a great crowd. Also, McElwain has done a great job in this quarter of silencing his critics. People are going to be inclined to give Saban the credit if they pull this one out, but games like this one can be won and loss by your coordinators/position coaches. If you don’t believe me, look at McCarron’s Performance vs. Jefferson’s performance through one.
As soon as I praise Bama’s offense, McCarron overthrows Smelley in what looked to be an almost assured touchdown for the Tide.
- Honey Badger does what the LSU front seven has been incapably of doing thus far and that’s stopping Eddie Lacy.
- That has to be the narrowest of First down’s I’ve seen in a long time off a fake field goal. I question the call by Saban, as Shelley is 1-1. Give the kickers a show of confidence. I also question the spot here. as Bama appeared to be about six inches short. Maybe I had these Big XII officials all wrong.
- LSU is strategically using these free shots on Bama’s receivers. I don’t care who you are. Those kinds of hits start to play with your head after repeated use. Also, false alarm on Maze possibly coming back. Musberger reports he’s heading back to the locker room.
- So much for my kicking prediction. Jeremy Shelley is blocked. I’m never a fan of having shaky kickers take kicks from the far hash marks. Shelley just showed why. If LSU can make something happen on offense, the LSU fans are going to start turning nuclear on McCarron and company when the Bayou Bengals return to defense.
- LSU commits their third penalty followed by dropping an open pass. This mistake-filled football is going to burn them in the second half. If you’re rooting for LSU, you need a positive drive before halftime.
- Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma Beat Writers have started sharpening their pens for the first draft of their case of “why Oklahoma State deserves National Champion recognition.” I know I’m early here, but it just felt fitting.
- LSU on defense has Richardson’s number. Saban may want to sit him for awhile and let him contemplate his upcoming NFL paycheck. Food for thought? I say this as Hanks makes a solid first down catch that will help his MVP changes later in the game. Once again, I know I’m early. Keep in mind that it’s the body of the game that should determine things like this.
- 6:38 left in the first half. AJ McCarron is 12/18 for 111 yds. Not a bad way to start! As I say this, Trent Richardson takes my sit down suggestion personally to the tune of 20 yards. Bama’s O-Line is starting to have their way with LSU’s defensive front. Musberger mentions this game is Bama’s 10 First Downs to LSU’s 1. Total domination early. However, this is the same as the November game. Brad Wing has made Alabama work long drives. Wing is the one bright spot for this LSU team right now.
- Shelley nails a kick down the middle. Impressive, kid. He’s 2 for 3 and Bama is up 6-0.
- This may seem cliche. With 4:14 left in the half, this drive LSU stands a great chance at dictating the outcome of this game. LSU needs to string together a drive here and either a) put up points or b) at least give Bama the ball back deep in their own territory with under a minute to go.
- LSU’s offense is just infuriating to watch. I understand Alabama’s defense is great, but I don’t think Bama’s defense is the sole reason that LSU can’t get anything going. Too many mistakes that shouldn’t be made when you’re playing for a National Championship. If LSU wins this game, Brad Wing gets my vote for MVP thus far. Jefferson is 6/7 for 26 yards. Great efficiency… embarrassing statistics. 26 yards as a Quarterback is inexcusable. Even Tim Tebow is laughing at that stat right now.
- More good news for LSU! It’s taken them almost 30 football minutes to figure out how to stop the little dump off pass to Brad Smelley.
- Give Brent Musberger credit. He says randomly absurd things during broadcast. “This one is for all the Tostitos” during the Auburn game was pretty pathetic last year, but he was able to say that “Honey Badger is one of the all time great nicknames in sports” with a straight face. ESPN should use ESPN 3 to keep a camera on this announce booth so we can watch Herbstreit’s reactions to Brent’s random comments.
- My field goal prediction is back alive! Jeremy Shelley ends the half 3 for 4 to end the half: Updykes 9 Grass Eaters 0. Also, raise your hand if you picked Norwood to have the two most important catches for Alabama in this game. Anyone? Don’t be Shy. You should feel proud. OK, I didn’t call that one either.
Halftime thoughts: That last field goal was huge. This game has not been as engaging as the game in Tuscaloosa. This game is lacking that Heavyweight boxing match feel, and I think that has to do with the fact that Bama’s only mistake is the blocked field goal, and LSU’s mistakes are numerous. In most cases, I would say that you’d have to feel nervous if you’re a Bama fan and relieved to only be down by nine if you’re an LSU fan. This game reallIy defies that logic. If I’m an LSU fan, I’m feeling quite depressed. This is pitiful and not the play of a team that has been the clear cut #1 team in the nation for most of the year. If I’m a Bama fan, I’m wondering why I wasted money on my “Got 13 shirt?” If this lead sticks, I wonder how many apology cards are sent to Jim McElwain for what this offense has been able to do with what LSU’s talented 11-man defense has allowed and to Alabama’s Kicking Team for all the hate mail they’ve received in the last two months.
- I don’t fault Maze for being teary-eyed. It’s a once in a life time experience to play on this stage and you get injured in the early going. My heart goes out to him. He’s an amazing football player who will have many chances to play on a large stage such as this in his career.
- Gutsy move by AJ to go right after Mathieu. It pays off and Bama cut blocks Mathieu on the next play for another big gain. This Bama offense is beginning to sniff blood on this defense.
- Brent Musberger is showing quite the Man Crush on Jim McElwain. I wonder if we see Jim staring at Flowers the next time the camera lingers up there. Come on Brent. Break into a song for Jimmy!
- Don’t Blame this game on Alabama Kickers! Shelley makes another field goal. Cade Foster is wondering why he hasn’t been given a shot. The Capstone 12 How do you Play Offense? 0
- That kickoff return was quite the brief adventure. Claiborne survived passed the 20, stopped to pinch himself to make sure he was okay, and then took a hit.
- Hey, LSU finally picked up a First down on a decent route to the corner and a competent throw to boot. That’s something LSU fans! The Bama Defense/LSU offense counters that by forcing themselves into third and long.
- The Penalty bug strikes again! Has Bama had a penalty flag thrown in their direction all game? Granted, the unnecessary roughness penalty was justified. Brooks didn’t leave room for a halo and hit a defenseless returner who he just outright missed signaling for fair catch. It reminds me of the “effort penalties” that burned Auburn against LSU in the first half this year, thus, leading to the shellacking the Tigers took over the course of the next 30 minutes.
- Kevin Norwood deserves the MVP trophy right now. Third important catch by this receiver. I’m quite impressed. I was not too familiar of his catch ability heading into this game. I’m sure some Bama fan will correct me of this error in the morning.
- Richardson has to be frustrated that this LSU defense has made him an after thought through 6 and a half quarters of the most important football games of his season. I wonder how much the game tape on these two games will play into where NFL scouts place him in the draft. Montee Ball has to have a keen interest on this development right now.
- Jordan Jefferson looks defeated. His bread and butter against this team has been denied over and over again. LSU has to figure something out about that option. Speaking of Jefferson. Hello INT. A score here probably seals LSU’s fate with 6:59 to go in the third. I should point out that this game is only enjoyable if you’re a Bama fan. This has to be one of the worst National Title games I’ve seen in recent memory. People can brag about the SEC as a conference all they want. Right now, I don’t think a game consisting of only field goals shows the superior status of our conference to the rest of the country. I think it shows me that Oklahoma State would be giving either of these teams a run for their money. Food for thought.
- The only loss Alabama has experienced thus far in this game is the injury battle. First Maze and now CJ Mosley. Once again, you hate to see injuries in a game of this level. I always hope to see the best on the field for all 60 minutes.
- In a case of too little too late. Jarrett Lee is starting to warm up on the sidelines. I wonder if he’s humming redemption song to himself. A Bama touchdown would make this all irrelevant. McCarron solves that problem with a terrible throw on 3rd and 7. Jeremey Shelley continues my kicker prediction (I’m riding that train home). He misses it. 4 for 6 on field goals. I may need to take the next exit off the train. 66% is a solid percentage if you’re shooting a basketball… not kicking a football.
- Ruben Randle must have insulted Dre Kirkpatrick’s mother. Kirkpatrick went for the KO on that hit. It’s amazing that Randle was still standing. Jefferson follows this up with a sack. It’s time to put in Lee. LSU, you are only embarrassing yourselves at this point. Is it too much to ask for an entertaining third quarter. The ESPN Production team is questioning whether they should over-hype any sporting event ever again at this point.
- On the sideline, I find myself amused by the Alabama male cheerleader who is trying to avoid having his face caught on camera for being a male cheerleader. I doubt that was intentional, but the possibility was there. I’m looking for anything to amuse myself at this point.
- Oh My God! A touchdown. What’s that? A False Alarm? He dropped the pass and would have been short anyways? Okay, move along. Nothing to see here. Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma State beat writers are entering the rough draft stage of their sweeping, poetic case for why Justin Blackmon’s performance shows that they’re more deserving of a national title than either one of these two teams. SEC! SEC! SEC!
- Jeremy Shelley’s Ego has to taken quite the 180 throughout this game. “Who needs touchdowns or an offense for that matter when you have me?” “We Wear Houndstooth in honor of Bear who never wore Houndstooth” 15 “We’re too stoned to play offense” 0
- Musberger forsakes his man crush on McElwain to go back to his true love: Nick Saban. Jimmy has to feel betrayed. Saban’s ego is wondering if it really needs another boost. Saban’s ego decided to quote Gordon Gecko: “Greed is Good!”
- I think I saw Jordan Jefferson begging the official to not force his team mates to endure one more quarter. I think he just lipped to him, “Can you make this quarter disappear like my Ethics teacher made my ‘F’ go away?” This may be the first time that a team bribes their way out of having to endure another 15 more minutes.
- Famous quote to start the quarter. LSU can’t get across mid field. A message I received at this point told me that you could argue that this is a five possession game. It makes since. You can’t buy a touchdown.
- Les Miles really should consider putting in Lee. I’m not kidding. He did play pretty flawless football for the first 2/3rds of this season. If I’m an LSU fan, I’m starting a free Jarrett Lee petition.
- During a National Championship game, coaches are having to beg players to get energetic.
- 12:25 left. LSU is showing punt. I wonder how many Alabama National Championship shirts were sold in the last ten minutes? Is it too early to offer Bama fans congratulations for another National Championship. I say you have 9 (which are officially recognized). You say you have 14 that include 5 fabricated by your Sports Information Department. Tomato /Tomato. Did you know that your SID department has been one upped by Princeton who claims 28? Princeton students just will look at you and go “that’s alright, that’s okay, most Bama fans will be serving us fries some day.”
- Remember that big hit that I said AJ McCarron has been due all season? AJ McCarron meet Minter. AJ’s lucky that was third down.
- I think Honey Badger could legally claim to have been mugged and assaulted during that punt return. One of the initial hits live looked like a candidate for a facemask. There was some definitive helmet grabbing. Although, the speed of that made it difficult to tell if anything constituted a face mask call on replay. That was definitely revenge for the cheap shot he took back in November.
- With 9:30 left in the game, the real game is whether or not LSU can find their way past the 50 yard line. If they do so, does Jordan Jefferson celebrate like he just scored a touchdown. I think it’s safe to take bets on it at this point.
- LSU finally picks up a first down. Saban has begun to sneak in second stringers. Only up 15, with plenty of time left. That shows what little respect Saban has for this team at this point.
- To the LSU fans that are still awake, stand up and applaud Jordan Jefferson for a positive run to the 33. I think LSU’s first downs this drive are equal to the total first downs they’d accumulated heading into this drive.
- Jefferson has Landry wide open on third and long and overthrows him. That could have been a game changer. What does Jefferson do on 4th down? Here are some multiple choice options:Does Jordan Jefferson…
a) make a game changing throw to provide some intrigue
b) run a Chinese fire drill and throw a horrible incompletion
c) call timeout and beg coach Miles to put Jarrett Lee on the field
d) eat a sackThe answer was e) none of the above. He fumbles it.
- The only college football fans not embarrassed here are those wearing Crimson and they should be. No Conference Title, No Divisional Title, lackluster schedule, BCS National Champions. RTR! RTR! RTR! SEC! SEC! SEC!
- The sad news for Trent Richardson. Even in garbage, kills the clock time. He still can’t make anything happen. Sorry Kid. At least you’ll have two BCS Championship rings to sport on Sundays.
- The second I finish typing this sentence. No Joke. Richardson breaks for 34 yards for a touchdown. I’m actually happy to see a touchdown. Saban continues his long tradition of rubbing salt in his opponents wounds. You stay classy, Nick!
- In a bit of irony. Jeremy Shelley Misses the extra point. I just hopped off my “Bama’s kicker had a great game” train. That noise you hear is the balloon pretending to be Shelley’s ego deflating.
- We get a quick camera shot of Bourbon Street as LSU fans are scene exiting the scene. The real question for Bama fans at this point: how drunk and angry will the purple and gold fans be when you begin to exit the stadium?
- 4:26 to go. Alabama 21 LSU 0. Les Miles, no one will blame you if you begin to just run the clock out here. I’m sure the bus drivers have strict instructions to high tail it Baton Rouge once this one hit triple zeroes.
- In a case of too little too late, Alabama gets their first penalty of the night. Offsides on a punt return with less than 3 minutes to go. On one hand, that’s impressive. On the other hand,
- Brent Musberger begins to swoon and enunciate Bear Bryant a romantic Haiku to Bear Bryant’s grave. Yes, this is still less embarrassing than the Tostitos comment last year. Tough call this top notch officiating crew but nonetheless fair.
- Bama fans are singing LSU fans goodbye. I would have guessed they were long gone at this point.
- The only prediction/observation that was correct on my part was the turnover one. Bama didn’t give up a turnover. Also, total yards Alabama 381 LSU 92 with 30 seconds to go.
Alabama makes it two out of the last three. Every AP voter has received a long winded piece of literary genius from Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State Beat Writers, T. Boone Pickens, and the Oklahoma State Athletic Department stating the case for the Pokes as #1. In other news, Jerry Jones is trying to make Oklahoma State vs Alabama for the undisputed title in a steel cage take place in Jerryland in two weeks.
Post Game Thoughts:
I don’t know what I can possibly add to this. Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, Jim McElwain, and the rest of the Alabama staff did a great job in preparation for this game. LSU had no answers for Bama’s defense. Their Offense’s inability to wake up in the first half bit them and they didn’t give Alabama much to key on for the second half. I question the decision by Miles to not play Jarrett Lee. He was suited up, which was shocking because there were differing reports detailing his eligibility. Jordan Jefferson looked like a man defeated early in the third. The interception early in the third should have been the tipping point for benching Jefferson. Alabama’s Defense played LSU-style defense and made it a consistent 11 man effort on that side of the football game.
I made this comment in a Facebook post. Unless you had skin in this game and were a devout supporter of either Alabama or LSU, then this really felt like one of the dullest, more boring games played in recent memory. The first game between these two really had that big time heavyweight fight atmosphere. The score may have been 9 to 6, but there were two defenses scratching and clawing to survive each haymaker the other team threw. Because of that, it was clear that Bama played with a chip on their soldier. For the sake of arguments among fans, I don’t know if Alabama will ever truly get unanimous love as champions here, but they did everything within their power to emphatically erase the loss to LSU from many people’s memory.
On one hand, Alabama deserves all the kudos in the world for an impressive victory. Easily the most impressive defensive performance in BCS Championship history. The first shut out in the game’s history as well. On the other hand, this did not feel like a game where both top notch programs brought their a game. If you’re not an SEC Fan, you have a legitimate gripe for having to sit through that and ask how this conference deserved both spots in this game. It appears that next year, the problem this game presented will be resolved somewhat with a plus one system. However, if I’m someone like Jerry Jones or another billionaire with cash to spare, I’m trying to make Bama vs Oklahoma State happen. Two weeks for tonight at JerryWorld. You know that the players on both teams will want to leave no doubt. Odds are Bama’s defense prevails in that game as well. However, it’d be interesting to see Blackmon and Company put that to test.
I’ll leave you with this. Congratulations to the Alabama Crimson Tide on another BCS National Championship. The second one in three years. In some places, people play football. In the state of Alabama, we live, breathe, sleep, and eat it. If you’re a recruit right now, how could you want to play in any other state in this country?
P.S. Yes, I know my predictions were way off… this should not surprise anyone anymore. My odds are about 50/50 these days. My NFL Spread record was roughly .500. It was an off night.