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Alabama Shuts Down LSU In BCS Championship Game


When it comes to football there are two types of compelling games. One, the most people like, when teams battle back and forth to a dramatic finish. The other, when one team totally dominates to such an extent that all you can do is watch in awe.

And last night, the University of Alabama treated football fans to the latter. The Crimson Tide won the BCS championship game by completely shutting down the previously number one team in the country - Louisiana State. By virtue of its 21-0 win in New Orleans, Alabama earned a rare title in this contentious world of rankings and polls - undisputed champion of college football.

And to talk about the game, we've brought in NPR's Tom Goldman.

Good morning, Tom.


GREENE: First shutout in the history of the Bowl Championship Series. I know you told me yesterday we were going to get a lot of good defense in this game since Alabama and LSU were nationally ranked 1 and 2 in that category. But, I mean, did you expect such a mauling like this?

GOLDMAN: No. It was a very hard game to predict beforehand. The teams played in November. LSU won 9-6 in overtime. The only scoring was field goals. It was a real battle. But last night, Alabama's defense played like it was in different class. They held LSU to 92 total yards, only five first downs. And, David, I want to play you piece of tape. It's a seemingly unimportant moment during the game, but symbolic of what happened last night.


GOLDMAN: OK. That's the call on ESPN of LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson running for a first down with a little under 8 minutes left in game. The significance - that was the first and only time LSU's offense crossed midfield. It's a testament to Alabama defense's stunning dominance.

GREENE: That's defense. Were there any bright spots at all for LSU? I mean, this is a team that had such a great season. They had eight wins over opponents ranked in the top 25.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, well, the Tiger's defense did well to limit Alabama to five field goals, until Alabama scored a late game touchdown. The LSU defense didn't break for most of the game, but it did bend. And it gave up some big yards on pass plays. And a lot of the credit goes to Alabama's offensive game plan, which called for quarterback A.J. McCarron to throw a lot on first down.

LSU was looking to stop Alabama's Heisman trophy finalist running back Trent Richardson on first down. Traditionally, that's a running down. And loading up to stop the run left LSU vulnerable to the pass. McCarron and his receivers took really good advantage of that.

GREENE: We think about Alabama and coaches and Bear Bryant is the name that always comes to mind. But Nick Saban is really forging his own legacy right now, it seems.

GOLDMAN: That's right. He's the first head coach to win three BCS titles. A pretty serious, some say dour, guy. You'll remember when he and the Crimson Tide won the BCS championship a couple of years ago and he got doused with the Gatorade, he looked really mad.

GREENE: Miserable.

GOLDMAN: But an indication of how happy he was last night, they got him again but he reveled in it. He hugged one of the guys who dumped the bucket on him.

GREENE: Well, Tom, going into last night's game, there was some talk that if number 2 Alabama did win - and they won - there could be a case for a split championship. Maybe Oklahoma State, which narrowly lost a chance to play in this title game, could slip in and share the top spot. Is there any talk of that this morning?

GOLDMAN: You know, not really. Alabama was just so dominant. Of course, maybe an Oklahoma State or a Stanford or an Oregon might've fared better than LSU. But without a playoff, we just won't know.

Today, interestingly, BCS officials are meeting to talk about possible changes to college football's postseason format. Apparently, everything will be on the table. And that's welcome news for playoff advocates, which is just about everyone. Who knows how motivated the BCS guys will be. The annual criticism of the system is somewhat muted by this championship game producing a clear champion.

GREENE: That's NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

Thanks, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You bet.


GREENE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.
Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.