“A lot of people did not think we belonged in this game. But we showed everybody with offense, defense and special teams,” Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower said.
While Monday served as a rematch of LSU’s 9-6 overtime victory in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Nov. 5, it certainly was not a rerun of the Tigers’ narrow victory. Alabama place kickers Cade Foster and Jeremy Shelley combined to miss four field goals in that game. Shelley made five field goals Monday (23, 34, 41, 35 and 44 yards), a record for the BCS title game.
The victory by Alabama (12-1) represented the sixth straight BCS national title for the Southeastern Conference and the third overall for Coach Nick Saban, who also won in 2003 with LSU and 2009 with Alabama. Saban, the only coach to win BCS crowns at different schools, also became the first coach to win three BCS titles.
Saban’s third came with what will be considered one of the best defenses in recent college football history. Alabama led the nation in every major statistical category and allowed just 8.8 points per game in the regular season, the lowest average since 1988 (Auburn).
The defense was at its best Monday, when it held LSU to five first downs and 92 yards of offense. LSU’s offense drove into Alabama territory just once in the game.
Alabama was so sound in virtually all facets that it won without a pass reception by Marquis Maze, its best receiver who was hurt during his 49-yard punt return in the first quarter. Maze would watch the second half from the sideline, where he was seen crying.
“You can’t give Nick Saban 47 days to prepare to have him not have a plan,” Hightower said.
Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw was selected as the game’s defensive MVP. Quarterback AJ McCarron, who completed 23 of 34 passes for 233 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions, was the offensive MVP.
Both teams had important special teams plays in the first half: Alabama got the 49-yard punt return from Maze and LSU blocked a field goal. But that’s where the similarities ended.
Alabama dominated every other aspect of the half: The Crimson Tide collected 13 first downs to LSU’s one; it outgained LSU 225 to 43 total yards; and Alabama controlled the ball for nearly two-thirds of the half en route to a 9-0 halftime lead.
Holding a 12-0 lead midway through the third quarter, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley intercepted a shovel pass by LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson at the Tigers 28-yard line.
Mosley appeared to suffer a leg injury after the interception. While being taken to the locker room on a cart, Mosley raised his right arm, prompting roars from the Crimson Tide faithful who had long awaited a second chance at their bitter rival.