Tide takes home title No.14By Tony Tsoukalas | 01/09/2012 11:59pm
This word now has a special meaning for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Many believed the Tide had zero chance to make the BCS National Championship game after its loss to LSU on Nov. 5. Those same people pointed to the number of touchdowns scored between the two teams in their last meeting. However, when the clock struck zero, the only zero that mattered for the Tide was the one beside LSU on the scoreboard as the Tide shut out the Tigers 21-0.
“This is the greatest defense in the world,” cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. “The greatest defense to touch the field, that’s how I feel.”
The Tide defense shut down the LSU offense early, holding the Tigers to a three-and-out on the first drive of the game. After an Alabama punt, the Tide defense went right back to work, shutting down LSU again on a three-and-out. “I felt like if we did our job, then our offense was going to do its job,” defensive tackle Josh Chapman said. “We had their backs, and they had ours.”
Marquis Maze would have the defenses back on the very next play as he returned Brad Wing’s punt 49 yards to set the Tide up for a field goal. The play would be Maze’s last of the game – he injured his hamstring during the return and never made it back onto the field.
“That play felt great until I injured my hamstring,” Maze said. “But you know, those types of injuries happen in the game of football, and I will be back.”
After the Tide’s Nov. 5 game against LSU, Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley shook off past kicking woes, knocking in his first of a record-setting five field goals to give the Tide a 3-0 lead.
“Once I hit that first one, it was a huge weight off my chest,” Shelley said. “The rest of the time, it was just stepping out and putting it through.”
Quarterback AJ McCarron was crucial on offense for the Tide. The offensive MVP of the game went 23-34 with 234 yards and routinely brought Alabama down the field for scores. “I’m just glad Coach gave me the opportunity,” McCarron said. “I don’t think I did anything special, though. Like Coach always tells me, just go out and play your game.”
A haunting moment occurred for the Tide on Shelley’s second field goal attempt, as LSU defender Michael Brockers was able to block the kick and bring back memories of missed opportunities. However, Shelley stood strong, going 5-7 on the night and bringing Alabama to a 15-0 lead.
“It was very big [to hit the following field goal],” Shelley said. “After that block, I had to hit a couple of kicks at that same range and farther, so coming out and having my mind right was huge for me.”
As Alabama continued to frustrate the Tiger defense, safety Robert Lester and the Tide defense smelled blood. “Of course,” Lester said. “Any team would be frustrated in such a big game like this. It’s a goal of ours to frustrate the quarterback, and we accomplished that tonight.”
Heading into the fourth quarter up 15-0, the Tide went back to the player who they have counted on all season, as Heisman finalist Trent Richardson ran 34 yards to seal the victory for the Tide.
“When I seen my brother Trent [Richardson] run for a touchdown, it kind of sent chills down my body,” Kirkpatrick said.
In a season of doubt and speculation, the Tide left no doubt about who was the best team in the nation, proving there are zero teams like this year’s champion.
“We wanted to go out and win the game,” defensive MVP Courtney Upshaw said. “And that’s just one of our mottos – to finish.”