Defense Wins Championship as Alabama Shuts Out LSU in National Title Game
#2 Alabama avenged its only loss of the season in a big way, shutting out #1 LSU, 21-0, in the Allstate BCS Championship Game Monday night. Alabama’s defense, which came into the game ranked #1 nationally in virtually every major category, showed just why they deserve to be the national champions, holding the Tigers to just 92 total yards and five first downs while pitching the first shutout in BCS title game history.
Alabama dominated on both sides of the ball, rolling up more than four times as many yards as the Tigers (384 to 92). Running back Trent Richardson, the Crimson Tide’s Heisman finalist, was named Player of the Game after rushing for 96 yards and the game’s only touchdown against an LSU defense that came into the game ranked third in the nation in rushing defense.
Alabama’s special teams also came up huge in the win. The Crimson Tide missed four field goals in its 9-6 loss to LSU in early November and the kicking game was a concern coming in. This time around, kicker Jeremy Shelley missed two field goals and an extra point in the title game, but he also made five field goals, more than enough cushion for Alabama’s defense. Additionally, punter Cody Mandell successfully kept the ball out of the hands of LSU’s star return man and Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu. The Honey Badger had just one punt return for one yard and was a non-factor in the final outcome.
But in the end, Alabama’s win was all about defense. The Crimson Tide was as dominant as any championship team has ever been. They are the first team to win a national championship with a shutout since Miami blanked Nebraska 22-0 following the 1991 season. LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson was hounded all night, being sacked four times and managing just 15 rushing yards on 14 carries. He was also held to just 11/17 for 53 yards and an interception. Somewhat surprisingly, quarterback Jarrett Lee, who started the first nine games of the season for the Tigers, was never brought into the game to replace the struggling Jefferson.
Before the game, there was some talk about the possibility of a split national championship, with Alabama taking home the BCS trophy but the AP title going to the loser of this game or possibly even #3 Oklahoma State. But after Alabama’s dominating performance, it is difficult to imagine the Crimson Tide not being the consensus national champions. This is Alabama’s second national title in three years and its ninth in school history.