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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

January 9, 2012 at 8:39 PM

Express thoughts on the title game . . .

Quite the BCS title game. Not the conventional way to get to a 21-0 score, but Alabama will take it gladly. There was talk that some AP voters might withhold a title vote from ‘Bama if it won a lackluster game. But the victory was so decisive that even if LSU had many remarkable wins — think about this; it beat the Cotton (Arkansas), Orange (West Virginia) and Rose Bowl (Oregon) winners — the vote has to go to the Tide.

Other thoughts:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team better prepared to win a big game. Don James, who was Nick Saban’s college coach at Kent State, had to be proud. ‘Bama kept LSU from crossing midfield until eight minutes remained. It never turned the ball over. It incurred one single penalty, a harmless offsides flag on an LSU punt with three minutes left. Its receivers caught the ball marvelously; only Brandon Gibson dropped a ball (at the LSU 1-yard line).

Having said that, it’s also inescapable that LSU’s offense was simply abominable. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson never got in sync, throwing out of rhythm, running the option poorly and never sustaining anything worthwhile. You could almost sense a bad play coming as the ‘Bama defense blanketed everything, and sure enough, Jefferson tried an ill-advised overhand flip to running back Spencer Ware that was intercepted by C.J. Mosley.

You wonder why LSU never turned to Jarrett Lee, who had shared the QB duties with Jefferson this year, and in fact, was the man early in the season (against Oregon and beyond) when Jefferson was suspended for a bar brawl.

Offensive coordinator Jim McElwain did a terrific job helping quarterback A.J. McCarron through the game, calling high-percentage first-down passes that helped put ‘Bama in favorable down-and-distance situations early. McElwain, mentioned as a candidate at Washington State before Mike Leach got the job, is headed for the head position at Colorado State.

‘Bama’s Jeremy Shelley tried seven field goals, hitting five, and the Tide spent so much time marching down the field and maintaining field position that it minimized the possibility that LSU’s dynamic cornerback, Tyrann Mathieu, could hurt ‘Bama with a punt return. That was important, because for almost the entire first half, ‘Bama was vulnerable to losing the lead because of having kicked only two field goals.

As much as the night was a testament to the wizardry of the defensive-minded Saban, I don’t think this was Les Miles’ finest night on the other side. Shouldn’t the Tigers have at least flung the ball deep once or twice just to loosen up the Tide, letting Rueben Randle try to make a play, even if it was a flyer?



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