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Breaking down the ‘Game of the Century’

I apologize for the blog being dead for a while. Moving sucks.

I’m pretty settled in my new place, and a lot has happened in the past few weeks, so I will try to get some posts up this week to get caught up.

First off, though, I have to stay true to my sports-writing roots and breakdown the Alabama-LSU game. Yes, I am a Bama fan, but I think I can look at it pretty objectively.

If you disagree with any points, feel free to argue with my in the comments section.

Game of the Century?

The obvious first question regarding the game is did it live up to the hype?

Opinions seemed to be mixed. Some thought it was a great game, while others called a boring game with pathetic offenses.

My opinion on the game — it was a great game, but not an exciting one if you didn’t have a dog in the fight (Bama and LSU fans, and those with money on the game were on the edge of their seats the entire night).

For the entire game, you had the feeling that one big offensive play would win the game. That play never came thanks to amazing defense.

I do think it lived up to the hype, because we were expecting a low-scoring defensive battle. Maybe not that low scoring, but you can’t really say a game that went to overtime didn’t live up to the hype.

Play of the Century?

If Bama-LSU was the Game of the Century, then Eric Reid’s interception at the 1-yard line was the Play of the Century.

It was a great play call for Alabama and an even better defensive play by Reid. The athletic ability to track down the TE and rip it out of his hands for a pick was unbelievable.

It was the most impressive play I have seen in college football since Cam Newton’s TD run against LSU when he turned on sixth gear with Patrick Peterson in pursuit.

You could argue that it wasn’t a clean interception. There is certainly a case to be made, because the video didn’t seem conclusive. I knew it wouldn’t get overturned, though, because interception was the call on the field.

What surprised me was the official saying the call was confirmed. Normally, if video evidence doesn’t show the correct call one way or another, the official will say the call on the field stands.

For him to say confirmed means he was 100-percent certain it was an interception. I don’t see how you can say that.

Regardless, what a play by Reid. You have to tip your hat to him for having the awareness and the athleticism to make a pick like that. That earned him a lot of money in next year’s draft.

Good defense or bad offense?

Mike Wilbon certainly knew how to piss off people on Saturday night. On Twitter, he wrote, “I have to take it on faith that these 1 defenses are great because it’s not like the LSU and Alabama offenses are making them prove it…

“Both offenses are stale and unimaginative, bordering on incompetent. Is that ALL defense? The QB play certainly isn’t inspired…”

Normally I like Wilbon (mostly cause he is a Bears and Cubs homer) but I thought he was way off here. Yes, the offenses were very conservative, but it wasn’t because they were incompetent. It was both teams put faith in their defenses to make the big game-winning play.

Plus, it is hard to throw downfield when every one of your receivers is covered, and you have two seconds to throw the ball before the pass rush converges.

Once it became apparent in the fourth quarter than neither team was going to get ideal field position, they both decided to play for overtime. That was understandable.

Watch what Alabama and LSU do offensively the rest of the season, and then go ahead and try to say they are incompetent.

The real Jarrett Lee returns

I saw Jarrett Lee face one of our teams in high school, and I knew he wasn’t going to be a star at LSU. Our team punched him in the mouth early in that game and he wasn’t the same.

Everyone had been talking about Lee’s maturity this year, but I had a good feeling the old Lee would return against Bama. He didn’t disappoint.

If Jordan Jefferson had been charged with kicking that marine earlier this year, then no way LSU wins this game. Lee would have been picked off at least two more times and Bama would have pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Jefferson isn’t anything special, but he doesn’t make many dumb decisions and can make something happen with his legs. He preserved LSU’s title hopes and should be the starter from here on out.

Was Saban outcoached?

I have a hard time saying someone was outcoached when his team allowed just nine points and lost by a field goal in overtime.

Saban had a great defensive game plan and bottled up LSU’s potent running attack.

Where Saban screwed up was being stubborn with his special teams. Attempting the long field goals early made sense, because you knew points would be hard to come by. However, why keep trying kicks when neither of your kickers has much confidence from beyond 40 yards?

The blocked field goal was the biggest gaffe. Saban sent in his short distance kicker to try an attempt from 49 yards. Why not punt and pin LSU deep and trust your defense to get another stop?

Putting out Maze to field that punt in the fourth was a big mistake, too. However, I think Maze told them he was fine to make the return, when he really wasn’t.

Special teams is the only area I will say Saban got outcoached. Other than that, both staffs did a great job.

Heisman race

Trent Richardson had a strong game, but it wasn’t enough to sway voters away from Andrew Luck.

Unless Luck craps on himself against Oregon or Notre Dame, he pretty much has the Heisman locked up. In fact, I think Stanford could lose one of those two games, and if he still is impressive in defeat, he wins the Heisman.

If I had a vote, here would be my top four: 1, Luck; 2, Justin Blackmon; 3, Richardson; 4, Kellen Moore.

I’m really surprised no one is talking about Blackmon. His team is undefeated and he has 87 catches for 1,039 yards and 12 touchdowns in nine games. Yet quarterback Brandon Weeden gets the Heisman hype. Kinda silly if you ask me.

Rematch?

Wilbon was at it again a little later when he posted these tweets.

“All the SEC sycophants will scream bloody murder but I’ll take Boise State against either of these teams, straight up on a neutral field.

“I know this much: the Boise State offense would provide either defense with a much greater challenge than either offense in this game!”

Seriously? How can you watch those two defenses and think Boise State can compete with that?

What about Stanford? Well, Andrew Luck is a star, but no way his receivers would ever get open.

Oklahoma State may have a shot to put up some points, but again, the secondary and the front four of both Bama-LSU would probably be too much in the end.

So should there be a rematch in the BCS title game? I say no, unless Stanford and Oklahoma State both lose. Then it would come down to Bama, Oklahoma or Oregon.

I don’t think Oregon would be able to jump Bama, but Oklahoma could if it takes out Oklahoma State by a significant margin.

Obviously I would like Bama to get a shot at redemption in the title game, but it shouldn’t jump an undefeated Stanford or Oklahoma State. Instead, the Tide can go to the Sugar Bowl and lay a whoopin’ on Boise.

Final thoughts

Overall, I found it to be an intriguing game. Defensive battles are hard to watch sometimes, but seeing one like this at the college level was riveting.

In a time of spread offenses, you don’t expect to see the top two teams in the country battle like LSU and Bama did on Saturday.

Are those the two best teams in the country? I have no doubt they are. However, Bama missed their shot to beat LSU, so it should only get a rematch shot if the rest of the unbeatens fall.

Should a rematch occur, it could be another classic, with the two teams perhaps opening the offensive playbook a bit more and taking some chances.

A possible rematch may be worth a trip to New Orleans as well. Who’s with me? #staresdirectlyatandrewheaton

Roll Tide and Keep the Faith!

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About Joshua Buckley

I used to be a Sports Editor. Now I'm the Media Relations Manager at the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Breaking down the ‘Game of the Century’

  1. With the baby train on the way at the Heaton house? Phh, stare some other direction, brotha.

    Posted by southernmaninindy | November 8, 2011, 11:57 am
  2. Pretty accurate analysis.

    I am tired of hearing the whining about the ball not being an interception. Michael Williams is about 6 inches taller and 75 pounds heavier than Eric Reid. He also had much better position to catch the ball. Williams can not let a free safety come over and take the ball. Reid wanted it more… end of story!

    Rematch… I am also in agreement with Buckley on this one. Alabama and LSU are the 2 best teams in college football. BUT… Stanford and OK State deserve to go if they are undefeated. In my not biased opinion, however, Alabama deserves to go over a 1-loss Oklahoma. The Sooners lost at home to a mediocre Texas Tech, while Alabama’s loss was in OT to the second-best team in college football (see what I did right there, Alabama is still the best). I will be royally pissed if Boise State goes over a 1-loss Alabama or Oklahoma. Stanford’s schedule is garbage, so I do not give them credit with 1-loss. BSU has played no one, other than a Georgia team which is not as good as their record indicates.

    People who complain about a rematch are ignorant. The point of the BCS Title Game is for the 2 BEST teams to play, not the 2 Best teams who never played each other!

    Posted by mattperdue | November 8, 2011, 5:41 pm

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Friendly message from the postman that was left on my door. #YouveGotMail #RollTide Great scene at Concord Bridge - free BBQ and supply dropoff for a neighborhood flooded during the storm. #HoustonStrong #RollTide Proof that we have been surviving the storm. #Harvey #BeerMe Mandatory #Houston sunshine photo. Great to see after the past four days. This is the retention pond behind our neighborhood which is protecting our homes from being flooded. Earlier this week it was empty. Now there is more than 10-feet of water in it. It actually went down a bit this afternoon when we got a slight break from the rain. It can still hold another 12 or so feet before it goes over its bank. Hopefully it can hang in there the next few days.
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