How ironic that a bowl season noted for some record-breaking offensive performances ends with perhaps one of the best defensive efforts in recent memory.
The Alamo Bowl, a 67-56 defense-non-existent race between Baylor and Washington, was more theatre — a comedy at that — than a football game. Color analyst and tackling aficionado Chris Spielman is still purging, I’m sure.
If Russell Wilson hadn’t been so captivated by Oregon’s shiny helmets made from 100 percent stainless steel, perhaps he would have been able to spike the ball in time to give Wisconsin a shot to tie the Rose Bowl at 45 points in regulation. Instead, time expired and a measly 83 points had to suffice.
The Orange Bowl jokes are still going strong. It’s been five days since West Virginia hung up 70 on Clemson, and the Mountaineers just scored another touchdown.
It’s cool, man, we get it. Offense equals eyeballs. People need to be entertained.
It’s just that Nick Saban is the one holding up the crystal ball from the Coaches’ Trophy after beating top-ranked LSU 21-0 to win his second BCS championship with Alabama in three seasons — his third BCS championship overall. He’s holding it up because No. 2 Alabama’s top-ranked defense held LSU to 92 total yards, forced two turnovers and didn’t allow the Tigers past midfield until 7:29 left in the fourth quarter.
But before people start harping on LSU’s lifeless offense as the primary reason Bama’s defense looked so dominant — although it was lifeless, let’s not kid ourselves — let’s remember that this was the same LSU offense that scored 34 points against Rose Bowl champs Oregon, 40 against Orange Bowl champs WVU, 34 against Cotton Bowl champs Arkansas and 41 against Gator Bowl champs Florida, which despite its struggles, played relatively well defensively this year.
LSU’s 2011 identity revolved around big plays on defense and special teams; get a spark there and the Tigers could get on a roll before the opposing teams knew what hit them. Even LSU’s 9-6 win over Alabama on Nov. 5 featured momentum swings from the other two-thirds of the football game not involving offense.
Alabama took away that identity tonight and LSU never got the spark they needed during a game when they needed it most. Coincidentally, the Tide did it by refusing to waiver on their game plan.
“We didn’t do a lot different [from the last game],” Saban said. “We did some things on offense formationally. Our offensive team did a great job. Defensively, we just played well, played the box.”
It showed. LSU had no running game, no vertical passing game, no clue. Jordan Jefferson looked lost and Jarrett Lee was lost, as in he was no where to be found other than on the sidelines.
It was one of the more questionable decisions of the night.
But there’s no questioning this Alabama defense’s place as one of the best in recent history.
“We wanted to come out and show the world we beat ourselves the first game,” said linebacker Courtney Upshaw. “We wanted to come out and dominate from start to finish, and that’s what we did.”
Indeed. There’s no way you can blame Saban for relying on kicker Jeremy Shelley to win the game with five field goals. Even before Trent Richardson sealed the victory with a 34-yard touchdown run, 15-0 seemed insurmountable with the way the Tide’s D was flying to the ball.
Kick the field goals. Build the lead. Nick Saban don’t care. Right, Honey Badger?
After all, Saban’s the one holding up the crystal ball. And I can guarantee you he doesn’t give a damn if you were entertained.