Gary Danielson, a former NFL quarterback and current CBS college football analyst, maintains if a team is going to beat top-ranked Alabama, it will have to run the ball, stop the run, keep turnovers at a minimum and an elite quarterback must deliver a high-level performance.
In the Crimson Tide’s smashing of No. 10 LSU, 38-17, at Bryant-Denny Stadium last Saturday night in a Southeastern Conference hookup, the Tigers failed in every category.
Then again over the last three seasons Alabama has fallen twice with LSU defeating the Tide 9-6 in overtime in 2011 and Texas A&M getting a 29-24 decision the following season.
That’s been it as Alabama is seeking its third straight Bowl Championship Series title and fourth in five.
The Tigers (7-3 and 3-3 in conference) arrived thinking they had a chance at halting Alabama (9-0 and 6-0 in conference) and trailed at the half by three points, then knotted it at 17-17 when Colby Delahoussaye drilled a 41-yard field goal with 12:01 left in the third quarter.
Alabama decided to flex its muscles and controlled the line of scrimmage as the Tide unleashed 21 unanswered points.
After churning out 64 yards on the ground at the intermission, the Tide made a concerted effort and finished with 193 while the Tigers managed 43.
“When you dominate the line of scrimmage you can dictate the pace of the game,’’ said senior quarterback A.J. McCarron, who had 179 yards while hitting 14 of 20 attempts without an interception. “We wanted to run the ball in the second half.”
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban praised his field general. “Everybody looks at the stats, but I think A.J. is the best quarterback in the country.”
Saban went on: “We played well in the second half. Everybody played well in the second half.”
Behind a powerful offensive line running back T.J. Yeldon had a game-high 133 yards on 25 carries, while backfield partner Kenyan Drake contributed 65 yards on 10 rushes.
Yeldon’s four-yard run with 4:11 left in the third quarter capped a 79-yard, 14-play march as the Tide went up 24-17, and his one-yard blast closed a 71-yard, 10-play drive that made it 31-17 with 10:31 showing in the final quarter.
McCarron drove the Tide 79 yards on eight plays and the capper was his three-yard toss to running back Jalston Fowler about six minutes later that made it a 21-point spread.
Running back J.C. Copeland fumbled on his way into the end zone for the Tigers, and Cade Foster’s 41-yard field goal with 3:54 showing in the first quarter gave flawless Alabama a 3-0 lead and came after LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger fumbled the snap while in the shotgun formation.
Running back Jeremy Hill (42 yards on 13 rushes) delivered a three-yard dash early in the second quarter that provided LSU (284 total net yards) with a 7-3 lead, but McCarron’s 52-yard pass on a crossing route to tight end O.J. Howard with 12:35 left in the same quarter pushed the Tide (372 total yards) into a 10-7 lead.
McCarron’s nine-yard toss to wide receiver Kevin Norwood (38 yards on four catches) capped a 99-yard, 10-play drive for a 17-7 lead, only to see Mettenberger (16 of 23 for 241 yards) hit wide receiver Travin Dural with a six-yard pass just before the half as LSU came within three points.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.