Okay, so it wasn’t the unwillingly anointed “game of the century” — not unless you spend your free time analyzing the art of field goal kicking. The 9-6 overtime boxing match between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama was filled to the brim with great defense, but unless you were expecting a shootout with all kinds of crazy momentum swings and off-the-wall, how-in-the-Les-Miles-did-that-work big plays, well, then you might have turned off the TV slightly disappointed.
If that was the case, I apologize. We built this one up a lot.
[/taps chest] Our bad, man.
But what were we supposed to do? We had two weeks to fill! Two weeks!
But for those who tuned in to watch the top two ranked teams in the country earn every yard, every inch they gained, then you probably turned off the TV happy — even if you were sporting a houndstooth hat. If you sat down to watch good ol’ fashioned ground-and-pound football game, you probably walked away satisfied — even if you end each sentence with “Roll Tide!”. If you were stuck in a Buffalo Wild Wings praying for overtime, you were probably elated — even if the walls were decorated in signed in Crimson memorabilia.
The modern-day sports fan is picky and cynical. “Ugh, this game was so boring! Where was the offense? These
two three quarterbacks are get a ‘B’ at best!”
They also fantasize in absurd hypothetical scenarios. “If this were the Big Ten, no one would watch this game! If Julio Jones was still at Bama, it’d be different.”
Well, guess what? It isn’t, and he’s not.
What we had tonight were 60 minutes and an overtime of generally well-played, evenly-matched, hard-hitting, high-stakes football. How much more can we really ask for? Not much at all.
Okay, maybe one trick play from Les Miles.
Come to think of it, Miles was uncharacteristically conservative tonight. No fake punts or field goals. No wacky fourth down quadruple reverses to the right tackle (is that even allowed?). No nothing. Miles gets plenty of attention — or grief depending on the situation — for his high risk, high reward philosophy, but in a tight game that was dictated by stingy defense and special teams, Miles made the correct call. Don’t put the team in an unnecessary situation, win the field position battle, and eventually, someone will more than likely make a mistake.
While more flashy at times this season, that’s been LSU’s mantra all along. That’s Pop Warner football right there, folks, and Miles has the record in big games to show for it.
And to think people have been giving that man the business. Foooorrrrr ssshhhaaammmeee.
But since we’re praising Miles, it’s only appropriate to criticize one move he made in particular: replacing Jarrett Lee with Jordan Jefferson immediately after Lee threw his first interception, only to toss Lee back in the game three series later. I get that Miles wants to use two quarterbacks, but what’s the point of inserting Jefferson if he’s going to do what Lee did? Besides, playing in the “game of the century” on national TV seemed like a decent time for Miles to put Lee back out there right away and show some confidence in him. Trying to plug Lee in later in the game turned out to be a head-scratching move paid in full by a second Lee interception.
Ultimately, it didn’t cost the Tigers the game, and Jefferson stayed in at quarterback. Thankfully, LSU didn’t have to rely on their quarterback to win. Both sides were so even for the entire game and this one just had the feeling that it would come down to a couple plays, perhaps on special teams.
That turned to be the case. Bama missed four of six field goals and LSU was able to flip the field position in some key moments thanks to punter Brad Wing. It was a close game from start to finish, so you’d expect the outcome to be determined by something like that.
Was it the “game of the century”? No. It wasn’t even the best 1 vs. 2 matchup, but it was fun to watch. So let’s cool it on the rematch talk, live in the moment and take some time to digest what was a really, really good football game. There’s a month left in the college football season. We should hope every is like the one played tonight.