When top-ranked Louisiana State University and No. 2 Alabama clashed last November, five field goals were converted as the Tigers pulled out a three-point win in overtime.
For nearly four quarters in the just-completed Bowl Championship Series title game at the Superdome, another kicking festival ensued until Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson scored on a 34-yard run that put the finishing touches on a 21-0 blanking.
In what may go down as one of the best defenses in college football history, Alabama held high-powered LSU to 92 total net yards and five first downs. The Tigers had 43 yards and one first down at the half.
The BCS has been around 14 years, and it’s the first time a team has been shutout in the championship tilt, which says a mouthful about the Crimson Tide defense.
Alabama claimed its ninth national crown since 1936, and second in three seasons under Head Coach Nick Saban, who also picked one up as LSU’s head man.
It was a frustrating night for LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson (11 of 17 for 53 yards), who bobbled two snaps, was intercepted by linebacker C.J. Mosley in the third quarter, and fumbled in the final quarter after being hit by Dont’a Hightower.
On the pick, Jefferson was flustered and tried a desperate shovel pass that was intended for running back Spencer Ware, but it was too high and long.
Alabama signal-caller A.J. McCarron had an easier time finding receivers like Kevin Norwood (four receptions for 78 yards), who had a key 26-yard grab in the opening quarter.
“He’s [Richardson] the best player in the nation, and should have won the Heisman Trophy,’’ said McCarron, named Offensive Player of the Game. “We mixed it up some from the first time we met.”
While LSU opted to run on first and second down, Alabama (12-1) put the ball in the air as McCarron threw 11 times and completed eight for 88 yards in the opening quarter.
McCarron finished with 234 yards, while hitting 23 of 34 attempts, and wasn’t intercepted.
Alabama receiver Marquis Maze’s 49-yard punt return set up Jeremy Shelley’s 23-yard field goal with five minutes left in the first quarter. Maze injured his hamstring on the play.
LSU defensive lineman Michael Brockers blocked Shelley’s 42-yard field goal try in the second quarter, but the Tigers (13-1) couldn’t advance the ball. It wasn’t until midway through the fourth quarter that LSU finally moved into Crimson Tide territory.
Shelley did make a 34-yard field goal with 4:18 remaining in the second quarter to make it 6-0, and added a 41-yarder as time expired to give Alabama a 9-0 lead.
McCarron hit 18 of 25 for 156 yards at the half as Alabama piled up 225 total yards.
The Tide (384 total yards and 21 first downs) continued to roll despite Shelley missing a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Alabama receivers Darius Hanks (58 yards and five catches), Kenny Bell (26 yards and one catch) and Norwood, all had important receptions in the third quarter that helped Shelley add a 35-yard field goal with 12:49 left for a 12-0 edge, and a 44-yard boot late in the quarter that pushed it to 15-0.
When linebacker Hightower stripped Jefferson of the ball on fourth and 15, it set up Richardson’s touchdown.
The play looked to be a short-gainer until Richardson (96 yards on 20 rushes and 11 yards on two catches) danced left and raced down the sideline with 4:36 showing.
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.