Still No. 1! LSU Wins Epic Matchup at Alabama in OT
LSU Sports Interactive
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- After his defense came up with an overtime stop, placekicker Drew Alleman made a 25-yard field goal to give No. 1 LSU a hard fought 9-6 victory over No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.
It was only fitting that fans would be treated to an extra period in the epic matchup of the top two teams in the Southeastern Conference -- perhaps in all of college football.
The Tide took the ball first in overtime and attempted to get the ball in the hands of star running back Trent Richardson. Two passes fell incomplete in the direction of No. 3 before LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery sacked Tide quarterback AJ McCarron for a 5-yard loss.
Cade Foster's 52-yard field goal attempt wasn't close, and the Tide's fourth missed field goal of the game sent the Tigers defense into hysteria as the Tigers offense took the field.
LSU went for the jugular, as Michael Ford's second-down run looked to be a game-ending touchdown, but he stepped out at the 7. Three plays later, Alleman's field goal split the uprights and the Tigers again rushed the field victorious.
Dubbed the "Game of the [insert hyperbole]" after weeks of media hype, LSU (9-0, 6-0 SEC) had its back to the wall against Richardson and the 101,821 Tide faithful. But, the LSU defense and its band of crazed followers came up with stop after stop.
At the end, LSU remained undefeated through nine games for the first time since 1973 and beat Alabama for the seventh time in the past nine meetings.
It was the first time LSU was involved in a game with no touchdowns since a 3-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama in 1979. The last time the Tigers won such a defensive contest was Nov. 2, 1972, against Tulane, 9-3.
Interceptions by Morris Claiborne and Eric Reid in the final 17 minutes of the game stymied opportunities for Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC), which never managed to extend leads of 3-0 and 6-3, despite many trips into LSU's side of the field.
Meanwhile, LSU's offense did just enough against the top-rated Tide defense to earn victory and stay atop the SEC Western Division with two league games to play.
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who played most of the game after relieving starter Jarrett Lee, was 6-of-10 passing for 67 yards while running 11 times for 43 yards. Lee struggled, finishing 3-of-7 passing for 24 yards. He threw interceptions on consecutive pass attempts after returning to the game midway through the third quarter.
Ford led all Tigers with 72 yards on 11 carries, while Spencer Ware had 29 yards on 16 carries.
LSU was outgained 296-239.
McCarron finished 16-of-28 passing for 199 yards and an interception that led to an LSU game-tying field goal on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Richardson was the Alabama star offensively, running for 89 yards on 23 carries while adding 80 yards receiving on five catches.
Marquis Maze added six catches for 61 yards, but it was his first-down pass from the LSU 28 in the "Wildcat" formation that Reid intercepted at the 1 with 11:26 remaining in the game.
In a game predicated on defense and field position, LSU freshman punter Brad Wing landed 4-of-6 punts inside the Tide 20 including a 73-yard game-changer from his endzone with 9:00 left in the game.
Alabama won the coin toss and elected the take the opening kickoff. LSU freshman placekicker James Hairston kicked to the 4-yard line where Maze returned to the 30. Alabama used Richardson for gains of 18 and 22 to start the drive, the latter on a pass from McCarron. From the Tigers 30, LSU's defense stiffened for the first of three-straight drives by stuffing Richardson for a 5-yard loss and holding him to no gain on third-and-7 from the 27.
Foster, the Alabama placekicker from long distance, missed the 44-yard attempt from the right hash to the right.
LSU took over at their 27 and Lee fired a strike along the left sideline to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for 13 yards to the 45. Jefferson entered for the first time to convert a third-and-1 sneak to the Alabama 44. Lee returned but couldn't avoid the vintage Alabama corner blitz. After a pair of incomplete passes, Wing dropped his first punt into the arms of gunner Tyrann Mathieu at the Alabama 5.
On third-and-9 from the 6, McCarron avoided the Tigers blitz and connected with Maze for 19 yards. A face mask penalty gave Alabama a first down at its 40, before Richardson ran the ball into LSU territory to the 48. Lacey gave Richardson a breather for the first time and wasted no time making an impact. A 20-yard run to the LSU 23 had the Tide rolling. However, an illegal substitution penalty and a 6-yard tackle behind the line by Reid put Alabama behind the down and distance. The tackle was Reid's fifth of the opening quarter.
A 50-yard field goal by Foster was short and right, giving LSU possession at its 33.
On the ensuing drive, Lee made the game's first mistake when he dropped a shotgun snap, quickly recovered, but tossed errantly into the Alabama zone for his second interception of the season -- and his first in 100 attempts. Alabama strong safety Robert Lester collected the pass that was intended for Shepard at the Alabama 47.
For the first time, the Tide had a short field, which was made shorter after a 19-yard catch by wide receiver Darius Hanks to the LSU 34. Richardson gained another first down rushing with 10 yards to the 24. But, again, LSU's defense stepped up and made the big plays to stop the Tide's momentum. After Maze's 6-yard loss on a botched reverse from Richardson, a 1-yard sack by Montgomery setup a third-and-17 from the 31. LSU defensive end Lavar Edwards chased McCarron out of the pocket and forced a throw away, as Alabama settled for a 49-yard field goal attempt by its regular placekicker, Jeremy Shelley.
The game remained scoreless as Shelley's kick was blocked at the line by defensive tackle Bennie Logan and into the hands of Reid at the LSU 26. Reid ran along the right sideline for 26 yards to the Alabama 48, giving LSU its first drive that started in Tide territory.
Ware gained a hard-earned first down with a 1-yard run to the 38, but an illegal shift penalty on wide receiver Jarvis Landry proved too much to overcome against the Tide defense. Wing again wedged a 35-yard punt into the arms of gunner Ron Brooks at the Alabama 4.
Richardson ran Alabama off its goal line with a 12-yard dart up the middle on second down. Another face mask penalty -- this on Logan trying to shed an offensive lineman -- moved Alabama to its 36. On third-and-4 from the 42, Richardson escaped from the backfield and McCarron found him for another huge gain of 39 to the LSU 19. With the star running back on the bench, Alabama managed only two yards in three plays, and Alabama sent its 0-for-3 field-goal unit to the field for a much shorter attempt.
Shelley was able to connect from 34 yards and Alabama led 3-0 with 3:53 left in the half.
Jefferson took over and led the Tigers on an 11-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a goal-to-goal opportunity at the Alabama 8 after a 34-yard pass to Russell Shepard. With 15 seconds left, Alabama was flagged for holding Rueben Randle in the endzone to give LSU a first-and-goal from the 2. Jefferson found no one open and threw the ball into the stands on first down. With a timeout and eight seconds to play, Ware tried unsuccessfully for a run up the middle.
After LSU took its final timeout with two seconds left, Alleman's 19-yard field goal was true to tie the game at halftime, 3-3.
The teams traded punts to open the second half, and Alabama's first punt of the game went out of bounds at the LSU 17.
After getting bailed out by his defense after his first interception, Lee's second mistake of the evening cost the Tigers points. Taking his first snap since the first-quarter pick, Lee again threw into double coverage and was intercepted by free safety Mark Barron at the LSU 48. Barron's return went inside the LSU 5 but was called back to the 35 after an illegal block in the back.
The Tigers defense stepped up to the challenge, holding Alabama without a first down and forcing a 46-yard field goal by Foster. After Shelley attempted the previous two kicks, Foster's kick snuck inside the left post and Alabama led 6-3 with 7:56 left in the third quarter.
With Jefferson under center, LSU worked its way across midfield with two first-down runs by Ford and a 13-yard pass to Randle. LSU's momentum was halted with a false start on first down, and the Tigers could go no further and punted from their 38.
Wing's punt was fair caught at the 11, where McCarron made another big play in his redzone with a 19-yard pass to Hanks. On third-and-10, he found Lacey out of the backfield who slipped a tackle by Karnell Hatcher and gained 11 yards. McCarron got a bit greedy on the next play, throwing deep along the right sideline toward Smelley and allowing LSU's defense to make another game-changing play.
Claiborne followed Smelley across the field and stepped in front of the tight end for his fourth interception of the season. He dodged Lacey along the left sideline and returned the ball 33 yards to the Alabama 15.
Jefferson and the Tigers were unable to punch the ball into the endzone, but a 30-yard field goal by Alleman tied the game at 6-6 with 14:13 left to play.
Alabama looked to have taken control of the game again, as the Tide drove into LSU territory. On first-and-10 from the LSU 28, rather than methodically working its way into the redzone, Alabama again went for the big play.
With Maze in the "Wildcat" formation, the wide receiver took the snap and heaved a pass high in the direction of 6-foot-6 tight end Michael Williams. Williams caught the ball high above the 1-yard line before Reid ripped it away as the pair fell to the ground.
In a tie game, the interception just in front of the goal line was followed up by a 73-yard punt by Wing that may have changed the outcome.
Starting from its 19, the Tide managed two first downs to its 41. However, defensive coordinator John Chavis sent his defensive backfield on consecutive run blitzes by Claiborne and safety Ron Brooks to stop Richardson in the backfield and force a punt on fourth-and-2 from the Alabama 49.
Pinned at his 5, Jefferson earned breathing room with a 14-yard pass to tight end Chase Clement. An 18-yard run by Jefferson allowed the Tigers to run the clock under a minute before Wing's final punt was downed at the 20.
Alabama elected to pocket its timeouts and play for overtime, where LSU's defense made the plays and allowed its offense to secure the win with a field goal.
LSU improved to 8-5 in overtime games, while Alabama fell to 4-8.
The Tigers return to action at 6 p.m. CST on Nov. 12 when they face Western Kentucky for Homecoming at Tiger Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPNU.