Photo courtesy of Alabama Athletics
NCAA FOOTBALL BOWLS PAGE
NEW ORLEANS, La.
(Sports Network) - Revenge is sweet...even sweeter when it comes in dominating fashion with everything on the line.
The Alabama Crimson Tide avenged their lone loss of the season and won the BCS National Championship as a result, using a stifling defense and kicking their way past LSU, 21-0, for the program's 14th title.
The "Rematch of the Century" was completely one-sided, with No. 2 Alabama holding the top-ranked and previously unbeaten Tigers to five first downs and 92 total yards en route to the first shutout in any BCS bowl.
Jeremy Shelley made five field goals and Doak Walker Award winner Trent Richardson rushed for 96 yards and the game's lone touchdown.
AJ McCarron was surprisingly effective through the air and earned Offensive MVP honors by connecting on 23-of-34 attempts for 234 yards for Alabama (12-1), which edged Oklahoma State for the coveted No. 2 spot in the final BCS standings.
The Tide's appearance in Monday's showdown was controversial, considering they lost to LSU (13-1) back in November in a 9-6 slugfest decided in overtime. The Tigers' signature win catapulted them to the SEC championship, but they failed Monday's final test miserably at the Superdome.
LSU's Jordan Jefferson threw for just 53 yards with an interception on 11- of-17 throws and was limited to 15 rushing yards. He also lost a fumble against the top-ranked defense in the nation.
Neither team had played in over a month. LSU beat Georgia in the SEC title game on December 3, while Alabama had a longer layoff, last seeing the field in an Iron Bowl rout of Auburn on November 26.
The time off did not appear to affect Alabama and head coach Nick Saban, who won his second championship in three years and became the first coach to win three BCS titles in his career. He also led LSU to the crown in 2003.
In the postgame ceremony, Saban mentioned a punt return as the spark for his squad. Marquis Maze was the catalyst, despite it being a costly one for Alabama's leading receiver.
Midway through the opening quarter, Maze zigzagged through LSU's punt return team and sprinted into Tigers territory. The senior pulled up lame with an apparent hamstring injury, but not before going out of bounds at the LSU 26- yard line following the 49-yard return.
With Maze on the sideline, Darius Hanks stepped up and made a sliding 16- yard catch to reach the 10. Alabama, though, wound up settling for a 23-yard Shelley field goal with five minutes on the clock.
On Alabama's next possession, Kevin Norwood, who had just seven catches during the regular season, made a leaping grab along the right sideline on the last play of the first quarter. The 26-yard gain moved the ball to the LSU 38.
Faced with a 4th-and-4, Alabama lined up for a field goal, but Saban opted for a fake. Chris Underwood caught a shovel pass from McCarron and got the first down by the nose of the ball to keep the drive alive.
Michael Brockers kept it a 3-0 game four plays later, skying at the line of scrimmage to get a hand on Shelley's 42-yard attempt.
The Tigers' third three-and-out in four possessions preceded an 11-play, 58 yard drive that Shelley capped with a 34-yard field goal with 4:18 remaining in the half.
Alabama took over again with two minutes remaining at its own 24, and McCarron led the Tide into field goal range before the halftime gun.
Shelley's 41-yarder split the uprights for a 9-0 cushion, and the Tide went right back to their unlikely air attack coming out of the locker room.
McCarron hit Hanks for a 19-yard pickup, and Kenny Bell made a nice over-the- shoulder catch on the next play for 26 more, setting up Shelley's 35-yarder.
C.J. Mosley was in the right spot midway through the frame, as the Alabama linebacker picked off Jefferson's errant shovel pass at the LSU 27. Mosley looked as if he broke his leg when he was tackled by Jefferson and was carted off the field.
Shelley missed a 41-yard try after the turnover, but tacked on a 44-yard kick later in the third after Nick Gentry sacked Jefferson on 3rd-and-7 to force another punt.
The first and only time LSU entered enemy territory came with nine minutes remaining in the contest. Jefferson ran for 18 yards to reach the Alabama 32, but Michael Ford was stopped for a three-yard loss on first down and a false start penalty pushed the ball back to the 40.
Jefferson led Jarvis Landry too much on third down, then was stripped by Dont'a Hightower at midfield.
Richardson put the finishing touches on the lopsided win when he sprinted up the left sideline and coasted in for a 34-yard touchdown with 4:36 on the clock.