Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Defensive Tidal wave gives Alabama title
Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
Alabama won its ninth national title in the poll era (since 1936), the most among teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide shut out the No. 1 LSU Tigers in the BCS Championship Game, the first shutout in BCS bowl history. LSU gained just 92 yards, the second-fewest in a BCS title game or in any BCS bowl game; only Ohio State (82 yards against Florida in the BCS Championship Game following the 2006 season) gained fewer.
The last team to be No. 1 in the poll prior to a bowl game and be shut out was the 1953 Maryland Terrapins, who were shut out by Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, 7-0. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that was also the last time an undefeated and untied college football team was shut out in a major bowl game.
Alabama is the first team since the 1991 Miami Hurricanes to win the national championship with a shutout, and are the first team to shut out the Tigers since, well, Alabama did it back in 2002.
The Tide's defense led the FBS in PPG, Rush YPG, Pass YPG and Total YPG. They were just the second team to lead the country in all four categories.
Alabama allowed nearly 78 fewer yards per game than LSU, the largest gap between the top two teams in total defense since those records were kept beginning in 1937.
LSU didn't cross midfield until its next-to-last possession of the game, reaching only as far as the Alabama 40-yard line. LSU ran only four plays on Alabama's side of the field, its fewest plays in opponent’s territory in a single game since the start of the 2004 season.
Alabama forced LSU into 11 negative plays, tied for the most negative plays by an LSU offense since Sept. 10, 2005 (lost yards on 12 plays against Arizona State).
The key for Alabama was play-calling on first down. A.J. McCarron attempted 20 first-down passes, completing 14 of them for 165 yards. Alabama had attempted just 14 passes in its previous two games and 28 in its previous three games combined on first down.
The Tide called pass plays on 63 percent of their first-down plays on Monday; they entered the game passing on just 39 percent of first-down plays this season.
That enabled McCarron to use play-action effectively; he went 5-for-8 for 80 yards using play-action on first down. He also exploited LSU’s defense down the field, completing five of his nine passes that traveled 15 yards or farther in the air.
The five completions tied his career high. Entering the game, LSU had allowed only 12 such completions this season and no team had completed more than 40 percent of such passes.
Alabama finished the season without trailing for one second after the first quarter. The next team on that list is Boise State, which trailed for nearly 27 minutes from the second quarter on.