Tide washes over LSU

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban holds up the trophy after his team defeated the LSU...

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban holds up the trophy after his team defeated the LSU Tigers during the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in New Orleans, January 9, 2012. (REUTERS/Sean Gardner)

Rob Longley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:50 AM ET

NEW ORLEANS - Judging by the crude T-shirt worn Monday afternoon by an LSU fan at Mike Serio’s Po-Boy shop, an LSU institution here, Nick Saban was a wanted man.

Despised after leaving the state’s revered college football program for the NFL and reviled for returning to the SEC to coach rival Alabama, Saban’s reputation has taken a beating.

The LSU love-in which had taken over the French Quarter and places like Serio’s over the past few days was about to come to an abrupt end, however.

The character assaults that have trailed Saban had nothing on the pounding his Crimson Tide laid on the Tigers Monday night, a good old-fashioned kicking that will be remembered as one of the greatest defensive efforts in college football history.

With the Tigers unable to have a snap in Alabama territory until exactly midway through the fourth quarter, No. 2 Alabama turned the table on No. 1 LSU with a punishing 21-0 win at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

As dominating as it was on the field, Saban cemented his brilliance as an NCAA coach. A master tactician and a prolific recruiter, he has now won three titles since 2004 — two with the Tide and a first with LSU.

The final score — which was reached on five field goals, a touchdown and missed convert — could have been much worse, if there was a need.

“I feel great about all the players who put so much into this and the way they responded to the disappointment of the first loss to this LSU team,” Saban said. “The goal today was, ‘you control your destiny, you control what you do.’ ”

Control it they did, leaving no doubt who was superior in the ultimate game of the season.

While there was some mild controversy as to whether the Tide should lay a claim to the title — borne mostly out of the ridiculously inept way college football chooses its champion — it will be difficult to make that argument passionately now. Winning the game secured the coach’s award and the crystal trophy that goes with it but voters will decide Monday whether it is to be a split title.

Make no mistake either, Saban played a massive role in the blowout as his team’s game play and preparation was far superior to LSU counterpart, Les Miles. Give the man 45 days to prepare for an opponent and well, the field is tilted.

It was Miles who the day before had billed the matchup of two teams from the hard-core SEC as “big-boy football.” When it came to the Alabama defence vs. the LSU offence, however, it was boys vs. big men.

The Tigers at 13-0 may have been ranked first entering the night, but the ranking that ultimately mattered most was the Tide’s No. 1 defence vs. the No. 2 Tigers unit.

When they had the ball, the Tigers could do nothing with it, a broadside beating that caught them by surprise.

“I told my team I did not see it coming,” a disconsolate Miles said afterwards. “I feel I let them down. For my players who worked their tails off, to them I owe a lot. We have to be better.”

Pounding

Big of Miles to admit it because truthfully, it was Saban’s plan that won the night on both sides of the ball. On offence, he allowed quarterback AJ McCarron to open up, essentially keeping the play-calling away from the deadly LSU middle.

On D, the swarming unit loaded with future NFLers was far too much for the benign attack led by beleaguered Tigers quarterback Jordan Jefferson. When it was over, the Tide had outgained the Tigers 384-92 in total yardage.

While other Bowl games over the past few weeks featured unruly amounts of scoring, this one never going to be anything like that, though there were some signs in the past couple days that the Tide were ready to Roll. Despite being ranked No. 2, a flood of Las Vegas money made them 21/2-point favourites by kick off. Guess we can call that one, Big Easy money.

The final score could have been far more lopsided, if the Alabama offence had any finish. Two dropped passes by his receivers took two potential touchdowns off the board, not that it was going to matter. When future NFL tailback, Trent Richardson broke loose for a 34-yard touchdown late in the fourth, it was the first TD the Tide scored in its two meetings with the Tigers and it cemented the blowout.

McCarron, it would appear, has a bright future, but it wasn’t about to play a starring role on this night. Instead, defensive playmakers such as linebacker Courtney Upshaw, who swarmed LSU players throughout and cornerback.

With more than 900 pounds spread out between guard Josh Chapman and defensive ends Jesse Williams and Damian Square, the Alabama front was no match for the Tide offence, which was outgained so dramatically on the night.

“We have the best coaching staff in the country,” McCarron said. “I didn’t do anything special. I just went out and played my game. I felt like we all did that.”


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