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Alabama Loses to LSU in Overtime

Alabama faced #5 LSU this evening with an undefeated season and hopes of an SEC and national championship. They were up 10-0 at the half, were tied at 10-10 at the end of regulation, but fell 13-16 in OT.

They overcame several key injuries, an overmatched offensive line, seven dropped passes, numerous overthrown passes, poor punting, and an uncharacteristic breakdown on the defense on the opening series of the second half to take the game to OT. They then lost a coin flip and went for a go-ahead field goal. LSU got a TD in the first overtime to end the game.

The Tide faces arch-rival Auburn next weekend at Tiger Stadium. A win there would help salvage the season and, in the unlikely chance LSU loses against either Ole Miss or Arkansas, put them into the SEC Championship Game, likely against the Georgia Bulldogs. A loss and the season will go from an unbelievable resurgence of the program to a big disappointment.

As might be expected in a late-season game facing the #3 and #5 ranked teams in the BCS standings, the pre-game buildup was tremendous. Below are some of the stories that graced the morning papers.

Crimson Tide meets LSU in top-five battle (Mobile Register)

If there are any seismographers around these parts, they may want to be at their recording posts this afternoon because the titanic collision between No. 4 Alabama and No. 5 LSU at Bryant-Denny Stadium at 2:30 p.m. (CBS) might be off the charts. “It’s going to be bananas,” Crimson Tide tailback Ken Darby said. “I don’t think there’ll be anybody in an LSU helmet who needs any extra motivation,” first-year Tigers coach Les Miles said.

Alabama, which is No. 3 in the BCS rankings, 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the SEC, can either seal the Western Division title or put itself on the doorstep with a win. LSU (7-1, 4-1), a three-point favorite, can jump in the driver’s seat with a third consecutive win over the Tide in Tuscaloosa.

“The job is tougher this week than any other week,” Alabama coach Mike Shula said, citing LSU’s talent in all phases of the game.

The first-ever meeting between top-five teams at Bryant-Denny Stadium has attracted the masses. ESPN’s GameDay show will take place on the Quad, as the network’s Cold Pizza show did Friday morning. ESPN radio, Westwood One radio and CBS’s national cameras will all be on hand.

Alabama has not been the same offensively since losing wide receiver Tyrone Prothro for the season against Florida. Without injured sen ior center JB Closner, who will be replaced by Taylor Britt, Alabama might need to rely on its defense and a packed house at Bryant-Denny more than any other game. LSU touts the crowd eruption from its fourth-down touchdown in its 7-6 home win over Auburn in 1988 as causing enough vibration to be recorded on a seismograph.

[...]

The Tide and Tigers have a quirky history of winning as the visitor. LSU has beaten Alabama only twice in Baton Rouge since 1969, while the Tide has won only three of the past eight games in Tuscaloosa and three of the past 11 played in the state of Alabama. Alabama’s defense has been superb in recent weeks, allowing only one touchdown in its past five games, and giving up just four touchdowns in its six SEC games. “Our defense is the reason we’re unbeaten,” said Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle.

But LSU will be the highest-rated defense Alabama has faced all season. “They’ve given people fits all year long, and understandably so,” Alabama offensive coordinator David Rader said.

The Tide has faced some tough tests this year, although neither Florida nor Tennessee have been as dominant as in years past. Still, there’s no doubt that LSU was the best team on the schedule so far.

Stakes rarely higher for UA (Huntsville Times)

So here it is, a game that needs no introduction or fancy words to describe it. Just throw out the facts and let them stand on their own: No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 5 LSU, the first meeting of Top 5 teams ever at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama can clinch the Southeastern Conference West Division today (with a little help from Georgia beating Auburn) while LSU could take a major step toward clinching it for itself. Alabama is a contender for the national championship, albeit on the outside looking in right now.

The games against Florida and Tennessee earlier this season were big because of the opponent. Today’s game is big because of the opponent, yes, but mostly because of the stakes. After all, the Crimson Tide’s 9-0 season won’t mean nearly as much if it’s not 10-0 by day’s end. That’s why ESPN’s College Football GameDay crew is camped out on the Quad. That’s why the game will be televised nationally by CBS.

“You couldn’t ask for a bigger senior night,” said quarterback Brodie Croyle, who will play his final game at home as a part of a senior class that includes linebacker DeMeco Ryans and Freddie Roach and safeties Roman Harper and Charlie Peprah. “We’ve got the GameDay crew, we’ve got CBS, we’ve got the No. 5 team in the country coming in. This is why we all came. This is our biggest game in five years.”

It’s a fascinating matchup, Alabama struggling on offense but still winning while LSU’s only loss came from a second-half meltdown that led to a 30-27 setback to Tennessee almost two months ago. Both teams have strong defenses, with Alabama’s getting the edge. “Their front seven is as good as we’ve seen,” LSU coach Les Miles said. Both teams have inconsistent offenses, with LSU’s getting the edge. “When you watch the tape and you see their offense,” Alabama coach Mike Shula said, “you find yourself saying ‘wow’ more than you do with other teams on offense.”

Ugly or not, Tide just wants to win (Birmingham News)

Is beauty truly in the eye of the beholder? Even in football? Perhaps one coach’s Picasso is No.1-ranked Southern Cal’s 34-31 victory over Notre Dame. And another coach’s Rembrandt is No.4 Alabama’s 6-3 victory over Tennessee – even if that coach is responsible for the Crimson Tide’s offense.

Dave Rader, the Tide’s offensive coordinator,knows his unit must improve on its average of 7.3 points scored in the three Southeastern Conference games since playmaking wide receiver Tyrone Prothro broke his leg. It will likely take a few more points than that for the Crimson Tide (9-0) to retain its No.3 Bowl Championship Series ranking against fifth-ranked LSU (7-1) at 2:30 p.m. inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. But ugly sometimes wins. Especially when you have the NCAA’s No.1 scoring defense (8.2) wearing crimson and standing on the same sidelines as you.

“I still can’t believe Janet married me,” Crimson Tide coach Dave Rader said about his wife. “She’s beautiful. I’m ugly. I have yet, truly, to be around an ugly win. They are so beautiful, so precious.”

I’d certainly have settled for ugly.

Britt in the spotlight (Birmingham News)

He’s that guy. The guy who’s got to play well enough in his first collegiate start to give Alabama’s already struggling offense a chance to accomplish a few, oh, semi-important tasks: Move the football against an LSU defense that will be the toughest it’s played, keep Alabama’s undefeated season going and, oh yes, keep its BCS and SEC championship dreams alive.

Besides that, there’s really no pressure on senior center Taylor Britt this afternoon. “Of course, everyone’s going to expect me to mess up here and there,” Britt said.

But expectations don’t always match results. That’s why all eyes will be on Britt, who will start in place of injured, three-year starter JB Closner when No.4 Alabama plays host to No.5 LSU at 2:30 p.m.

Britt was simply awful. He muffed several snaps and was generally outmatched. Indeed, the offensive line in general was manhandled much of the game, especially the second half.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. I understand the parochial view, since you are an Alabama alumnus, but the game would never have reached OT except for three missed fields goals by Chris Jackson. Strange though, I thought LSU’s Chris Jackson had changed his name to Mahmoud Abdur-Rauf some time ago.

    As to your post last week and my comments about giving them credit for games they haven’t played, well, I feel vindicated. Alabama has now only played two ranked teams this year, a Florida team that has lost twice and LSU to whom they lost at home. They probably won’t play Georgia now, though Auburn, of course, remains on the schedule. IMHO, Alabama will be lucky to finish in the top 10 now.

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  2. Jo says:

    Waaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrr Eeeeeeeaaaaaaagle!!! :D

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  3. James Joyner says:

    Charles: The kid missed 43, 47, and 49-yard attempts. They’re not exactly chip shots at the college level. Even NFL kickers miss those with some regularity. Alabama’s Jamie Christensen missed a 46-yarder, too.

    I always said that Alabama would have to pick it up a notch to win these games. The defense has been excellent all year but the offense has been listless since losing wide receiver/punt returner Tyrone Prothro, easily their best playmaker, late in the Florida win. Losing their center last week was hard to come back from, too. That’s football, of course.

    Playing in a tough conference means even the best teams in the league are going to have losses. LSU lost to Tennessee, which is having its worst season in recent memory. Georgia has now lost twice, as has Auburn. Of course, Florida State, a top ranked team when Miami played them, has now lost four times for the same reason. They’re all very good college football teams.

    I still contend, though, that late season rankings should reflect records more so than guesses as to who’s better. An undefeated major conference team should simply not be ranked behind a team with losses.

    Jo: Ironically, Auburn fans should have been rooting for Bama yesterday. An LSU win virtually assured that LSU will win the division title; an Alabama win would have given Auburn the title if the beat the Tide.

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  4. bryan says:

    Go Gamecocks! :-)

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  5. It’s all academic at this point. Texas is clearly the best team in the country, with the best player in the country.

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  6. No problem, and I apolgize for the snarkiness of me earlier post.

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