LSU / Alabama: The Judgment

There will, no doubt, be a lot of griping by LSU fans about the blown call on Patrick Peterson’s 4th-quarter interception. And it’s pretty clear that was a bad call. But if that call would have marked the last best chance LSU had to win this game (and it would have), it’s important to focus on the larger context of how this game unfolded.

Working backwards … LSU killed itself by running in to the Alabama punter earlier in that drive … the inability to stop Mark Ingram (no easy task) put LSU in a bind … the cramps of Patrick Peterson led directly to Julio Jones’ touchdown … and the injury to Jordan Jefferson left LSU in the incapable hands of Mr. Jarrett Lee.

I felt good about the Tigers’ 7-3 halftime lead. It seemed at the time that LSU had enough contain on the Bama offense to make a game out of it. To be sure, the Tide was under-achieving. Alabama had just one drive of under 30 yards in the first half, but with poor field position on two drives, bad game management on another and an interception on the final drive of the half, they had managed just three points from 208 yards of offense.

LSU, on the other hand, had one very good 91-yard TD drive, a 33-yard drive that resulted in a punt and drives totaling 10, -5, 6 and 5 yards in the half. Seven points from 157 yards of offense.

Advantage LSU.

And then there was the second half. Bama went to Ingram and rang up 21 points on 250 yards of offense. The big hit, of course, was Julio Jones’ 73-yard TD catch/run when Patrick Peterson sat on the bench with cramps. In the second half, the Tide mounted drives of 81, 66, 73 and 32 yards (plus -1 on the safety possession).

LSU, meanwhile, managed just 123 yards of offense as Jefferson and Scott went down to injuries and put up just 6 more points in addition to the safety after halftime. Tiger drives totaled 28, 59, 9, -9 and 8 yards in the second half.

The Tigers got breaks in the first half to stay ahead of Bama and needed breaks in the second to stay with them. LSU got a huge break by downing a punt inside the Bama 1-yard line, but wasn’t able to capitalize enough on the safety and ensuing possession (which resulted in their final TD and 15-10 lead) to stay in front of the Tide.

More than anything, LSU needed a fourth-quarter counter to Mark Ingram. With Jarrett Lee at the helm and Charles Scott out of the game, it simply wasn’t there. Might not have been without the injuries either, but once Ingram got rolling things became really tough for LSU.

A 66-yard field-goal drive for Bama, a three-and-out for LSU, the Jones TD for Bama and a three-and-out for LSU. If not for running into the kicker, LSU would have gotten the ball back down six with 7:30 left to play. It’s hard to think Lee would have done much at that point, but it was LSU’s best shot to pull this one out.

The bad call on the Peterson interception one minute later cost LSU its final opportunity. But make no mistake – this game was won by Bama and Mark Ingram and lost by LSU, its lack of offense and injuries.

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