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Monday, January 9, 2012
Five plays that got LSU here

By Edward Aschoff

NEW ORLEANS -- You've already read about the five plays that got Alabama to the Allstate BCS National Championship, so now it's time to take a look at how LSU ended up in Monday's title game:

1. Eric Reid's interception: With Alabama sitting on LSU's 28-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Tide coach Nick Saban reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out a play in which wide receiver Marquis Maze was supposed to take the ball and throw it to tight end Michael Williams. Maze, who was bothered by a sprained ankle, threw the ball up, but Reid wrestled it away from Williams at LSU's 1-yard line. Alabama never got inside LSU's 35-yard line again until overtime.

2. Morris Claiborne's kick return: After West Virginia scored to get within six of the Tigers late in the third quarter, Claiborne put the game away with some magic in the return game. On West Virginia's ensuing kickoff, Claiborne dazzled his way through Mountaineer players for a 99-yard touchdown return that put LSU up 34-21. That touchdown put LSU on a 20-0 run to close the game.

3. Brad Wing's punt: The drive after Reid's interception, LSU's offense failed to get much of anything backed up inside its 10-yard line. A normal punt would have given Alabama ideal field position to make up for its blown opportunity on the last drive, but Wing launched a kick from inside LSU's end zone that eventually traveled 73 yards to Alabama's 18-yard line after some very favorable rolling.

4. Tyrann Mathieu's return: Down 14-7 to Arkansas in the second quarter, the Honey Badger came through in the clutch on special teams. He took Dylan Breeding's punt 92 yards to the house and sent Tiger Stadium into a frenzy. That play paralyzed Arkansas, and led to a 34-3 run by LSU on the last Saturday of the regular season.

5. Mathieu's second return: Like the Arkansas game a week earlier, LSU was in need of a spark against Georgia in the SEC championship game. Down double digits early for the second straight game, Mathieu provided the momentum builder LSU needed when he took a punt 62 yards for a touchdown that made it 10-7 in the second quarter. The score, which sparked a 42-0 run, should have actually been overturned because replay showed that Mathieu clearly flipped the ball to the ref and out-of-bounds before he crossed the goal line.