Instant analysis: Alabama 21, LSU 0
January, 9, 2012
By Edward Aschoff | ESPN.com
NEW ORLEANS -- College football has a new national champion and its name is Alabama. The second-ranked Crimson Tide (12-1, 7-1) totally dominated the night as Alabama came away with the 21-0 win over No. 1 LSU (13-1, 8-0) in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.
We even had a touchdown in the rematch, as Alabama running back Trent Richardson put the game away with his 34-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. After kicking killed the Tide in the first go-round between these two teams, Jeremy Shelley hit five of his seven field-goal attempts.
How it was won: Alabama's defense entered the game as the nation's best and it showed exactly why Monday night. LSU's offense did absolutely nothing for four quarters. The Crimson Tide contained LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson all night and forced him to have his worst game of the year. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron was outstanding as well. He was cool and collected in the huddle and never looked like the youngster that he is. He finished the game with 234 yards passing. LSU's defense wasn't bad either, allowing only the five field goals before Richardson's touchdown run with 4:36 left.
Turning point: Jefferson's interception in the third quarter stopped any chance of LSU making any sort of run in the second half. Honestly, the turning point might have been when LSU coach Les Miles sent Jefferson out to take the snaps at quarterback in the second half.
Stat of the game: LSU ran the ball so well against Alabama earlier this year, but the Crimson Tide's defense absolutely manhandled LSU's offensive line and held the Tigers to a season-low 39 yards rushing.
Player of the game: Shelley tied a bowl record with five field goals and scored the only points of the game until late in the fourth. After Alabama's kicking game was a disaster last time these teams played, he was the Tide's best offensive player.
Unsung hero: Courtney Upshaw was a monster on Monday. He recorded seven tackles, six solo and a sack. He couldn't be contained by LSU's offensive line.
Second guessing: Miles always has been very loyal to Jefferson, but it cost him Monday. He should have turned to Jarrett Lee at some point in the second half after a simply awful performance by Jefferson. Lee struggled against Alabama earlier this year, but he couldn't have been worse than Jefferson, right? Jefferson passed for 53 yards and an interception and ran for 15 yards.
What it means: Alabama now enters the offseason with Nick Saban's second national championship as the Tide's head coach. That's No. 13 in the Alabama record books. The Tide will lose some key pieces to this team, especially on defense, but the offense might be better with four of five linemen coming back and McCarron being much improved. Alabama should also have some better play at wide receiver. For LSU, this was a great season until Monday night. But the Tigers return the core of this team and will most certainly get better quarterback play from junior college transfer Zach Mettenberger. Both of these teams will be ranked right at the top of the polls to begin next season.
Record performance: Shelley's five field goals tied the record for most in a bowl game. His seven attempts set a bowl record.