Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/6/11

The Alabama Crimson Tide (8-1 , 5-1) fell in overtime to the top-ranked LSU Tigers (9-0, 6-0) on Saturday night in Bryant-Denny Stadium in front of an electric 101,821 fans. I was too distraught about the loss last night to write any form of a game recap. This loss stings. And it will continue to sting for years to come.

In terms of the most deflating losses I have been apart of as an Alabama fan, this one ranks right up there with last year’s 28-27 loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. It was a devastating loss to the team and the fans alike. When Cade Foster missed a 52-yard field goal in overtime, his third miss of the game, and the fourth missed field goal of the game for the Crimson Tide, my heart sank. I knew the game was over at that moment, and Drew Alleman’s 25-yard field goal for the win was just a formality.

This was an old-school, hard fought, defensive struggle between the two best teams in college football. For viewers outside of SEC country, a 9-6 game may not be as exciting as a 52-45 shootout like the Oklahoma State/Kansas State game that was on at the same time last night, but there was high drama throughout.

It wasn’t inept offenses. It was two defenses that refused to give a single inch. Both offenses entered the game averaging close to 40-points per game, but neither could even find the endzone against the opposing defense.

Alabama's defense swarmed LSU, holding them to just 235 yards of offense. (Starling/Press-Register)

Alabama outgained LSU, with 295 yards of offense to 235 for the Bengal Tigers. For most of the game, Alabama outplayed LSU. The Crimson Tide had seven opportunities to score points, and could only muster 6 on the scoreboard, while LSU was within striking distance only three times, but cashed in on all three opportunities with three field goals, and that was the difference.

Alabama got the ball first, and quickly got the ball in LSU territory on the heels of two plays by Trent Richardson. He ran the ball for 18 yards on the game’s first offensive snap, and then caught a pass out of the backfield from AJ McCarron on the next play and scampered 22 yards down the field to the LSU 30-yard line.

From there, Alabama’s drive stalled and they were forced to attempt a 44-yard field goal, which for most college kickers, is an easy make. Cade Foster’s attempt went begging, and Alabama left points on the field for the first of many times that night.

After forcing an LSU punt, Alabama’s offense once again engineered a good drive that covered 62-yards on 11-plays, but stalled due to a dumb substitution penalty, and a six-yard loss by Eddie Lacy on a sweep play. That left Foster to trot back out onto the field for a 50-yard field goal attempt that never had a chance. Two strong drives and zero points to show for it.

Near the end of the first quarter, Alabama caught a huge break with Robert Lester intercepting LSU QB Jarrett Lee and setting Alabama up at their own 47 to start the drive. After a 19-yard pass from McCarron to Darius Hanks, the Crimson Tide was at the LSU 34-yard line and in business to finally put some points on the board. But, once again the drive stalled and Nick Saban sent out Jeremy Shelley to attempt a 49-yard field goal that was blocked. Three offensive drives for Alabama, and they had made it into LSU territory all three times, but came up empty-handed each time.

Finally, after forcing another LSU punt, Alabama started from its own four yard line, and drove 79-yards on 9-plays. The drive once again stalled at the 17-yard line, but this time Jeremy Shelley nailed a 34-yard field goal to put Alabama up 3-0. But, even after that kick sailed through the uprights, I was still upset that the Crimson Tide had thoroughly outplayed the Tigers, and had just a 3-0 lead to show for it at this point.

LSU tied the game at 3 before the half after Alabama stopped them at the two-yard line. Drew Alleman hit a 19-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

Alabama did not punt a single time in the first half, and yet they found themselves tied with LSU going into the break. The Crimson Tide had another great opportunity to score a touchdown early in the second half when Mark Barron intercepted a Jarrett Lee pass and returned it all the way down inside the LSU 5-yard line. Unfortunately, a block in the back penalty on Josh Chapman brought the ball all the way back to the 35-yard line.

But, Alabama only mustered 6 yards on the drive, and to everyone’s surprise, Cade Foster connected on a 45-yard field goal to put Alabama in the lead 6-3.

Neither team had another chance at points until Morris Claiborne intercepted an AJ McCarron pass and returned it down to the Alabama 15-yard line. Alabama’s defense still didn’t give an inch, and forced Drew Alleman to attempt a 30-yard field goal, which tied the game at 6 early in the fourth quarter.

On Alabama’s next drive, an impressive 24-yard run by Trent Richardson set Alabama up at the LSU 28-yard line. On the next play, a hobbled Marquis Maze lined up in the wildcat, took the snap, and rolled right looking to throw to tight end Michael Williams. Williams broke wide open running into the endzone as Maze lobbed a pass toward him. The throw hung in the air a bit too long, and allowed safety Greg Reid to go up and make a play on the ball. He wrestled the ball away from Williams while still in the air, and came down with the ball at the one-yard line.

It's a different story if Michael Williams comes down with this catch. (Starling/Press-Register)

After all the missed field goals, the Crimson Tide would have walked out of Bryant-Denny Stadium with a win if their 6’6 tight end could have wrestled the ball away from LSU’s 6’1 safety. As much as that play has been lamented by Alabama fans, it was the perfect call. It worked for a touchdown last season against Florida, and it was wide open this time. Maze’s pass wasn’t the best, but it is inexplicable that Michael Williams did not come down with that football. As big as he is, no defensive back in the nation should have been able to wrestle the ball away from him.

That play proved to be a huge turning point, as did Brad Wing’s 73-yard punt that Marquis Maze failed to field, and rolled all the way down to the Alabama 18-yard line.

Neither team seriously threatened the rest of the way, and the clock struck zero in the fourth quarter with the score even at 6 as we headed into overtime. LSU won the toss, and put their defense on the field first.

Instead of coming out running to start the overtime, Alabama tried a screen pass that fell incomplete, was penalized once again for a substitution infraction, threw another incomplete pass, and then AJ McCarron took a sack to back them up to the 35-yard line, leaving not much chance for Cade Foster to make a 52-yard field goal. He missed, and LSU only needed a field goal to win the game.

Drew Alleman nailed a 25-yard field goal after four plays, and gave LSU a 9-6 victory, putting them into the driver’s seat in the National Championship race.

It’s a bitter loss because I didn’t feel after the game that LSU was a better team than Alabama. The Crimson Tide is every bit as good as the Bengal Tigers, and should have won the game last night. Against a team of LSU’s caliber, you just cannot leave as many points on the field as Alabama did last night.

Alabama missed too many opportunities to win the game. They pretty much handed the game to LSU on a silver platter, and Les Miles and the Bengal Tigers graciously accepted it. These two teams are so evenly matched that any mistake can cost you the game, and Alabama made too many last night to have expected to win the game.

The team played their hearts out, especially the defense. They kept the #1 team in the nation out of the endzone.

Trent Richardson needed a big game to keep his Heisman hopes alive, and he actually performed pretty well. He only gained 89-yards on 23 carries, but he had 5 receptions for 80-yards to finish the game with 169 yards of total offense. But, with the loss, the Heisman is Andrew Luck’s to lose.

AJ McCarron finished the game 16 of 28 for 199 yards and an interception. He had two near touchdown passes to Darius Hanks and Kenny Bell that were broken up by excellent plays by the LSU secondary. McCarron missed a lot of throws that should have been made though, but he played well enough for Alabama to win the game.

It’s easy to forget, but this was NOT the National Championship game. Alabama still has plenty to play for, and losing in overtime to the #1 team in the nation is nothing to be ashamed of. Alabama looks to be 4th in both the AP and Coaches Poll, so a rematch with LSU in New Orleans for the National Championship isn’t out of the question if Stanford and Oklahoma State lose.

Alabama still has a shot at the SEC Championship if Arkansas beats LSU on the final weekend of the regular season to force a three-way tie, in which case the team with the highest BCS ranking would get the nod to play in Atlanta.

Alabama has to quickly put this game in the rearview mirror and shift their focus to their game against Mississippi State in Starkville on Saturday. Alabama doesn’t control what every other team does. They just have to handle their business and finish the regular season 11-1 letting the chips fall the way they may.

At the end of the day, Alabama fans must be gracious in defeat. Congratulations to LSU. Now how about we do this again on January 9th in New Orleans?

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