Commentary

No need for LSU-Alabama rematch

Originally Published: November 1, 2011
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- If that was The Game of the Century, then I want my 100 years back.

Top-ranked LSU's 9-6 overtime win against No. 2 Alabama Saturday evening wasn't the game of the century, decade or season. I'm not even sure it was the game of the day.

[+] EnlargeDrew Alleman
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireDrew Alleman's field goal in overtime sealed Alabama's fate.

So let's get this out of the way right now: These two teams deserve a BCS championship rematch like Kim Kardashian deserves to keep her wedding gifts.

I'm not saying LSU's victory suffered from drama deprivation. It didn't. It was the leading cause of gnawed-off fingernails at an electric Bryant-Denny Stadium. The edge of my press box seat was worn down by the time Drew Alleman's 25-yard game-winning field goal somersaulted through the uprights.

But was it a football classic? Close, very close, but no.

Classics don't have four interceptions, four missed field goals, 13 penalties, one fumble, one botched punt return and zero touchdowns. A punter shouldn't be the best player on the field in a classic.

Bottom line: Only a classic is worthy of a Jan. 9 rematch in New Orleans. And this wasn't one of them.

"I think the world wants a rematch, honestly," said LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery. "It would be lovely to play such a great, competitive team out there again. I think everybody wants a rematch: the media, the people, the fans."

Not me. Not when Oklahoma State, which played, hands down, the most entertaining game of the day against Kansas State, is still undefeated.

Not when Stanford, even with its recent run of injuries, hasn't lost a game.

Not when Boise State, which continues to roll along, remains unbeaten.

Not when 9-0 Houston -- OK, maybe not Houston. Yet.

Alabama had its chance. Actually, it had lots of chances to beat LSU in front of 101,821 hyper-geeked fans … at home … against a team that completed a grand total of nine passes.

Instead, the Crimson Tide did a belly flop when it mattered most. Five different times they grinded their way to the LSU 35-yard line, or closer, and five times they jogged back to the Bama sideline with zilch points.

"We still can go to the national championship," said Bama wide receiver Marquis Maze. "We're still a national championship team. I feel like we're still the best team in the country. Anything can happen."

And Maze wasn't done. When I asked him if he thought Bama was the better of the two teams, he didn't hesitate.

"Yes, I think we're the best team in the country," he said. "I think if we played them again we wouldn't lose."

Unless Oklahoma State, Stanford and probably Boise State lose between now and the beginning of bowl season, it doesn't matter if Bama would win a rematch. Because there won't be a rematch.

You can make a case, a semi-decent one, that the Crimson Tide shouldn't be dismissed from the BCS championship equation. After all, they lost by only three points in overtime to the No. 1 team in the country.

[+] EnlargeJarrett Lee
AP Photo/Dave MartinJarrett Lee threw two picks, but Alabama wasn't able to convert.

"I think we definitely have a chance of seeing those guys again if we finish strong," said Bama wide receiver Darius Hanks, who added that the Crimson Tide were "definitely" superior to LSU.

And this from Bama linebacker Nico Johnson: "Oh, no, it's never over."

He's sort of right. TCU could beat Boise on the blue carpet Saturday. Oregon could do the same against the Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Oklahoma could defeat Oklahoma State come Bedlam on Saturday in December. Things happen.

But it's going to take a lot of BCS gymnastics for Bama to jump back into the championship mix. I don't think it has enough room on the mat to nail the landing.

Hanks and Maze wouldn't admit it, but LSU's magnificent defense had a lot to do with making the Crimson Tide look ordinary. The Tigers do that.

But you can't miss four field goals, as Bama did Saturday evening, and expect anyone to want LSU-Bama -- The Sequel. You can't make costly penalties. You can't throw two interceptions (including one in the fourth quarter, when the Tide were already in field-goal range).

"To me, we didn't take advantage of the opportunities we had," said Alabama coach Nick Saban.

And then he recited the grocery list of missed chances. He knew.

If Saban is thinking about another crack at LSU, he wouldn't say so publicly.

"Whoever the folks are who make those decisions will make those decisions based on a full body of work of every team in the country and choose which teams are the best," he said. "I really can't speculate on a hypothetical situation. And it's really not our focus right now anyway."

Not now. But as he watches the film of this one, Saban is going to realize his team could have and probably should have beaten LSU. Bama's defense intercepted a pair of Jarrett Lee passes. It neutered the Tigers' passing attack. It held LSU to three field goals.

But it lost. And however you want to spell it, a capital L is going to be next to Bama's name.

"We can't let this loss affect us," said Hanks. "It hurts. At the same time, we've got to come out there on Monday and act like this loss never happened."

If only it were that easy. Bama's players might have short memories, but the BCS computers and voters remember everything. And they'll remember this as the night when the Crimson Tide lost their argument for a rematch.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter

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