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Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Alabama-LSU picked as top game in 2011

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

If you could only watch one SEC game next season, which one would it be?

In other words, as we posed in our SportsNation poll, which game in the league next season is the one you absolutely don't want to miss?

The fans have spoken, and the Alabama-LSU contest on Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa easily took first prize. With more than 37,000 votes in, the Alabama-LSU game received 49 percent of the vote. A distant second was the annual Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn on Nov. 26, pulling in 20 percent of the vote.

Arkansas' visit to Alabama on Sept. 24 was third with 13 percent, meaning the Crimson Tide were involved in the top three "don't miss" games as voted on by the fans.

It's difficult to pick any other game but that Alabama-LSU affair for the top spot. Both teams will enter the season ranked in the top 5 nationally. Both figure to have outstanding defenses, and think back to some of the classics the two teams have treated us to over the past several seasons.

In each of the past four games, I can pick out one play in the fourth quarter or overtime that was probably the difference in the game. That's how close it's been.

Last season, it was LSU's Deangelo Peterson rambling 23 yards on a reverse on a fourth-and-1 play to set up Stevan Ridley's go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run in the Tigers' 24-21 win.

In 2009, it was Julio Jones' 73-yard catch and run for a touchdown to put Alabama ahead for good, although LSU fans might point to Patrick Peterson's interception on the sideline that was ruled (even with replay) a non-interception in Alabama's 24-15 win.

In 2008, take your pick in what was a 27-21 Alabama win in overtime. Rashad Johnson had three interceptions for the Tide, including one in overtime. But it was Jones' leaping 24-yard catch on the sideline that set up John Parker Wilson's 1-yard touchdown plunge to win it.

And in 2007, LSU survived 41-34 in Tuscaloosa in Nick Saban's first game against his old team. With the game tied, LSU freshman Chad Jones came free on a safety blitz and forced a Wilson fumble that was recovered by the Tigers at the Alabama 3, setting up Jacob Hester's winning touchdown.

Stay tuned for more drama in November.