By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – In the current era of college football, it is the offenses that receive the majority of attention. But on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium, the match-up lived up to its billing as the nation’s top-two defensive squads battled it out for 60 minutes.
At times, it appeared as if neither team would break. And, essentially, they didn’t. Not a touchdown was scored in the highly anticipated matchup between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama and it took overtime for the Tigers to emerge the 9-6 victors at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Crimson Tide held the advantage in total offense 295-239 and the time of possession between the two teams was nearly equal. In the end, a couple of missed field goal opportunities by Alabama and making the most of a couple of interceptions proved to be the difference on the scoreboard between the two teams.
Though its low-scoring nature might prevent Saturday’s contest from appearing on the ballot for one of the greatest all-time college football games, it was undoubtedly apparent that the fans were treated to an unbelievable defensive display.
“Our defense was tremendous tonight,” LSU head coach Les Miles said. “It was the difference in the game. The turnovers were huge and we finished plays. Our team just played really well off the mat. Sending them back on the field, make a play. Then take them off and they come back on to make a play.”
LSU featured six players with five or more total tackles in the game, led by Ryan Baker’s team-high eight. Safety Brandon Taylor finished with five tackles, including one for loss, and said in Saturday’s postgame media availability that his team’s preparation on defense was a difference maker.
“Coach Miles had us very prepared,” Taylor said. “In practice, we worked on fundamentals a lot and we did a lot of tempo work to keep us in shape. They’re [Alabama] a tough team. They’ve got good players and an outstanding coach. It was a great battle tonight. We gave the fans and the world a good show tonight.”
Despite suffering a three-point defeat, Alabama continued an impressive streak of holding each opponent this season to fewer than 14 points per game. Additionally, the Crimson Tide has held seven of nine opponents this season to fewer than 10 points in a single game.
“We fought down to the end,” said Alabama’s senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw. “That last snap on the field goal, those guys tried to go out there and block it. It was a hard game. We just got to go out and play better against Mississippi State and execute on the chances that we have.”
In the end, it may not have been a game that featured textbook football, but what it did show was the nation’s top-two teams squaring off in a grind-it-out battle of tough, physical football players.
To the purist, it was an outstanding exhibition of defensive prowess. To the casual observer, the key element for the Tigers was that it resulted in a win to improve their record to 9-0 on the year.
“Two very physical football teams played tonight,” Miles said. “It definitely didn’t go by script. The most important thing is that you just have to keep fighting and find a way to win. Congratulations to Alabama for having a great football team. This was a great night; tough football. It was not necessarily a pretty game, but it had a tough ending.”