Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Ranking best games in Bama-LSU rivalry
By TideNation and GeauxTigerNation
The Alabama-LSU rivalry began heating up the minute Nick Saban left the Miami Dolphins in an attempt to resurrect a sleeping giant in Tuscaloosa, and it hasn't slowed down since. Alabama has flourished into a dynasty with three rings and counting, while LSU continues to battle for national championships year in and year out under the sometimes-eccentric leadership of Les Miles.
Head to head, the Crimson Tide and Tigers have had some of the most thrilling games in recent memory, often propelling one team or another on to the SEC championship and beyond. Each matchup has had its defining play or its defining performance, whether it was T.J. Yeldon's last-second touchdown in 2012 or Eric Reid's acrobatic interception the year before.
Breaking down each game was no easy matter. In fact, when TideNation writer Alex Scarborough and GeauxTigerNation writer Gary Laney sat down to make up a top 10 list of the best games since 2007, determining No. 1 was so difficult they had to split the difference and stop just short of calling it a tie.
Looking at numbers three through seven wasn't much simpler. But they persevered and ranked the games from best to worst, and here's the order they came up with:
T.J. Yeldon capped a game-winning Alabama drive to beat LSU 21-17 last season.
1. Nov. 3, 2012: Alabama 21, LSU 17: You had to see the end coming. Despite what was a terrible first half, AJ McCarron and the Alabama offense took the field with the determination of a team knowing its destiny. Four consecutive first-down passes to the same receiver, Kevin Norwood, walked Alabama down the field before a perfectly placed screen pass to Yeldon sealed the deal.
LSU cornerback Jalen Mills was supposed to fake the blitz and cover Yeldon. Instead, he ran after McCarron and freed Yeldon up for the 28-yard touchdown catch that left less than a minute on the clock. It was a game of ups and downs for both teams, but ultimately it proved to be Alabama's year yet again, as the Tide skirted disaster against LSU on its road to a second straight national championship.
1-A. Nov. 5, 2011: LSU 9, Alabama 6 (OT): For SEC detractors, this was the prime example of what's wrong with the SEC, as two defensive juggernauts went 60 minutes, plus overtime, and managed only five field goals. But for hard-core SEC fans -- perhaps those who truly understand exactly why the SEC dominates -- this was a thing of beauty. The 534 combined yards would be just another outing for lot of high-powered offenses, but not against those two defenses.
Reid made the play of the night by wrestling a Marquis Maze pass away from Crimson Tide tight end Michael Williams at the LSU 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, keeping the game tied. LSU's Drew Alleman went 3-for-3 in field goals, including the game-winning, 25-yarder in overtime. His counterparts combined to miss four of six Alabama field goal attempts. Alabama, of course, went on to get its revenge in the BCS national championship game and did not allow a touchdown to LSU in eight quarters, plus overtime, in the two games.
3. Nov. 8, 2008: Alabama 27, LSU 21 (OT): The win signified a changing of the guard in the SEC West, as Nick Saban made his triumphant return to Baton Rouge. A 1-yard quarterback sneak from John Parker Wilson in overtime kept Alabama perfect in its quest for the postseason, but it also marked the end of the Tigers' dominance. The win snapped a five-game winning streak for LSU on the day Alabama played its first game since 1980 as the No. 1 school in the country. The victory almost wasn't, though, as LSU got the ball first in overtime before handing it right back when Jarrett Lee threw his third interception to safety Rashad Johnson.
4. Nov. 3, 2007: LSU 41, Alabama 34: Alabama came close to spoiling LSU's national championship run in Saban's first season, as LSU needed to score two touchdowns in the final 2:49 to rally from behind. After Javier Arenas' 61-yard punt return gave the Crimson Tide a 34-27 lead with 7:33 left, Early Doucet caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Matt Flynn to tie it, then Jacob Hester's 1-yard run with 1:26 left gave LSU its winning points. The winning score was set up when Curtis Taylor recovered a fumble by Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson, forced by a sack by Chad Jones, at the Alabama 3-yard line.
5. Nov. 6, 2010: LSU 24, Alabama 21: Stevan Ridley's 1-yard touchdown run with 8:13 left was part of a streak of 13 consecutive Tiger points. Ridley rushed for 47 of LSU's 77 yards on the decisive drive. After Ridley's touchdown gave LSU a 21-14 lead, Kelvin Sheppard got his second turnover of the night, recovering a Greg McElroy fumble caused by a Drake Nevis sack. The fumble recovery by Sheppard, who earlier had an interception of McElroy, set up a 39-yard field goal by Josh Jasper that gave the Tigers a 24-14 lead with 5:34 left. The win was a key in the Tigers' run to the Cotton Bowl.
6. Nov. 7, 2009: Alabama 24, LSU 15: It took a play Alabama hadn't run all season, but the Crimson Tide found a way past LSU and on to the national championship. Three and a half quarters of offensive malaise was snapped when McElroy dialed up the first wide receiver screen pass of the season, finding Julio Jones, who in turn found a seam and ran more than 70 yards to pay dirt. The touchdown gave the Tide breathing room and eventually the win, propelling it on to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, where UA cleared the hurdle of the Florida Gators before meeting Texas in the BCS National Championship.
7. Jan. 9, 2012: Alabama 21, LSU 0 (BCS national championship game): Let's face it, the title game was a dud, even with the confetti and Gatorade bath. What was billed as "The Game of the Century, Part II" turned out more like "The Godfather III," a snoozer for even the most die-hard of fans. Jordan Jefferson and the LSU offense crumbled out of the chute, while McCarron and the Alabama offense hit on all cylinders. It was over before it got started. The lights could have gone out at halftime and no one on Bourbon Street would have noticed.