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Alabama football: Breaking down the 2012 national championship game

Two Southeastern Conference programs that are separated by 346 miles were scheduled to battle at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Nov. 5, 2011.

ESPN had a field day on the campus of the University of Alabama, as the matchup between the Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers was coined as the “Game of the Century.”

Alabama totaled 295 yards offensively, and recorded 17 first downs, but special teams led to a victory for LSU. Its place kicker, Drew Alleman, nailed two critical field goals, delivering the Tigers to a 9-6 win.

It was Alabama’s lone blemish in the 2011 regular season, but a series of upsets in the following weeks, would set up a rematch at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La., between the two SEC West foes. Alabama’s defense entered the contest as the top-ranked group in all five major categories. It allowed 8.83 points per game.

LSU’s quarterback Jordan Jefferson had no chance against the Crimson Tide.

The Tigers managed 92 yards on 44 plays. Alabama’s offense possessed the ball more, and its defense gave up only five first downs. Drew Alleman showed up for LSU in the regular season, however, it was Alabama’s Jeremy Shelley that excelled on special teams in the national title game.

Shelley set a BCS title game record for most made field goals (5). Redshirt sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron kept the Crimson Tide in position to win with pinpoint passes.

He completed 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards. Kevin Norwood was a three-star prospect from D’Iberville, Miss., prior to Alabama’s meeting with LSU. He became known as the “Tiger killer,” after catching four passes for 78 yards, including one over LSU’s safety Tyrann Mathieu.

It was fitting to have running back Trent Richardson seal the deal. He averaged 164.67 rushing yards per game in 2011, and posted 1,583 yards on the season. Richardson totaled 96 yards on 20 carries, including a 34-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Alabama shutout LSU 21-0, capturing its 14th national title and second under head coach Nick Saban. It was the first time that LSU had been shutout in a bowl game played in New Orleans, since the 1987 Sugar Bowl. Results differed in both games, but NFL Draft stocks didn’t.

The Alabama-LSU matchup in 2011 and 2012 produced 45 players that were taken in the NFL Draft. Alabama’s Jalston Fowler and Xzavier Dickson are the latest for the Crimson Tide, while running back Kenny Hilliard was the latest LSU Tiger to be drafted from that matchup.


Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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