(Saturday, November 8th)
Final Score: (1) Alabama 27, (15) LSU 21 (OT)
Baton Rouge, LA (Sports Network) - John Parker Wilson ran for two touchdowns, including the winning score in overtime, as top-ranked Alabama beat 15th- ranked LSU, 27-21, to stay undefeated and clinch a spot in the SEC championship game.
Alabama had a last-second field goal blocked in regulation, and had to watch as LSU took the ball first in the extra session. Facing a 3rd-and-6 from the Alabama 21, Tigers quarterback Jarrett Lee had his end-zone pass intercepted by Rashad Johnson.
"I saw (Lee) roll out and we brought a blitz to pull him up, because they had been running that play a lot in the second half," Johnson said. "It was a great play call by us to blitz him on that side so he couldn't get all the way out and throw the out route like he normally does. Then he was looking for his receiver on that side and just overthrew him."
The Crimson Tide took over, and on the first play Wilson found Julio Jones down the left sideline. Jones was dragged out of bounds at the one-yard line before running back Glen Coffee was stopped in his tracks. But Wilson took the keeper up the middle, jumped forward, and the ball crossed the goal line. After an official review the touchdown call was upheld, handing Alabama the slim victory.
Wilson threw for 215 yards on 15-of-31 passing for Alabama (10-0, 6-0 SEC), which won the SEC West division and earned the right to meet Florida in the SEC title game. Jones caught seven passes for 128 yards, while Coffee ran for 126 yards and one TD on 26 carries for the Crimson Tide, who won in coach Nick Saban's return to Tiger Stadium.
Saban had a five-season run as LSU's coach, in which the Tigers went 48-16 and won the national title in 2003. They also won two SEC championships under Saban's guidance.
"I know there may be some people that have a negative attitude, but I can say I really appreciate those people that spoke to me and welcomed me back here today," Saban said of his return. "I really appreciate that from the people here. We have special memories of this place, and no one will tarnish those no matter what they do."
Johnson had three interceptions and half a sack to lead Alabama's defense.
Lee had a rough day under center for LSU (6-3, 3-3), throwing four total interceptions and completing 13-of-34 passes. He threw for 181 yards and one TD in the loss.
"I think he can play better than he played today, simply put," LSU head coach Les Miles said of Lee. "I thought that he gave his team a chance to win. He's a redshirt freshman. He's taking snaps and playing competitively against a team that we need to catch the ball and make some plays through the air (against). They put extra guys down in the box, and we have to throw it."
Charles Scott ran for 92 yards and two scores on 24 touches for the Tigers, while Demetrius Byrd caught four balls for 51 yards and a score.
Alabama had a chance to win the contest at the end of the fourth quarter, but a great defensive play by LSU forced overtime. The Tigers had tied the game with a little over six minutes left in regulation, and the teams traded punts until Alabama took over at the LSU 41 with just 1:58 left.
Coffee ran for two yards on a 3rd-and-1 to give Alabama a first down at the LSU 30, and a few plays later a facemask penalty on LSU gave Alabama the ball at the 12-yard line.
After several more rushes and timeouts, Alabama set up for a 29-yard field goal with three seconds remaining. But the low kick was blocked by LSU's Ricky Jean-Francois, forcing overtime.
The first half was marked by sloppy play, as five separate drives ended in a turnover. Four of them occurred in the first quarter, and were the main source of points early on.
Alabama marched deep into LSU territory on the game's opening drive. On a 3rd- and-6 from the Tigers' 26, Wilson completed a long pass to Earl Alexander, who fumbled at the one-yard line. LSU recovered in the end zone for a touchback, but had its first drive also done in by a turnover. Lee's third-down pass was picked off by Johnson at the LSU 25, and he ran it back 10 yards.
Coffee ran 14 yards on Alabama's first play working with the short field, down to the one-yard line. Wilson then pushed across the goal line into the end zone on 3rd-and-goal, giving the Crimson Tide a 7-0 lead.
But the Tigers responded with their own touchdown. They started at their own 46 and advanced the ball to the Alabama 30. From there, Lee found Byrd for a touchdown pass to tie the contest with 6:21 left in the first.
Another 'Bama turnover helped LSU suddenly take the lead. Javier Arenas fumbled on the kickoff return, handing the Tigers the ball again at the Alabama 30.
Again LSU scored on a 30-yard play, as Scott broke out on a long run into the end zone to make it a 14-7 Tigers lead.
But Alabama took advantage of another Lee interception to draw even in the second quarter. With LSU deep in its own territory, Lee took the snap and all receiver routes led to the middle of the field. The quarterback's throw sailed past the receivers into the hands of Johnson, the deep safety. He dashed to the right sideline, cut back to the middle inside the 10 and went into the end zone with 4:33 on the clock, knotting the game at 14-14 -- also the score at halftime.
"(Lee) was sitting in the pocket and I think got a little pressure, and left it up a little too high," Johnson said of the interception. "I was in the area to pick it off and run up the field, and my teammates made some great blocks for me down field."
Alabama got a leg up early in the third quarter, after taking the ball at its own 31. The Tide worked the ball near midfield before Coffee took the ball three times. The first rush went seven yards to the LSU 26, then ran through the left side of the line and pushed down to the three. Coffee then ran the same direction into the end zone for a 21-14 lead with 8:14 left in the stanza.
LSU answered with a long drive, advancing to the 'Bama 29 before Lee was hit on a blitz as he threw. The ball popped high into the air and was caught by Alabama's Rolando McClain, who returned it near midfield.
But the Crimson Tide couldn't score, and the teams traded punts into the fourth quarter.
The Tigers started a drive a few minutes into the final frame, and went 74 yards in 14 plays. Scott's one-yard run with 6:12 left in the game tied the contest, 21-21.
Alabama had a chance to take the lead back right away. But a 32-yard touchdown scramble by Wilson was brought back by a holding penalty, and the Tide were forced to punt.
It was the first time that LSU has hosted the nation's top-ranked team in Tiger Stadium since 1997, when the Tigers shocked No. 1 Florida, 28-21...Alabama owns a 44-23-5 series advantage over LSU. The Tigers had won five in a row in the series...The Crimson Tide have now allowed a 100-yard rusher this season...Alabama kicker Leigh Tiffin converted three extra-point attempts, but was unsuccessful on two field goals -- the blocked kick and a missed 42-yarder...While LSU had four interceptions, it had no fumbles. Alabama, by contrast, had just one pick but fumbled three times -- losing two...LSU's Keiland Williams ran for 88 yards on 13 attempts...Brandon LaFell caught four passes for 74 yards for the Tigers.
11/09 01:50:19 ET