Dig Baton Rouge

November in LSU History: The “Game Of The Century”

Alabama has beaten LSU in football six straight times now, a stat which makes the average Tiger fan nauseous.

The last time LSU did beat the Crimson Tide was epic—one of the best games in the history of the program.

On Nov. 5, 2011, No. 1 LSU played No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, a game which was billed by CBS as “The Game of the Century.”

The Tigers were an absolute monster that year—one of the most dominant teams in SEC history. On opening night LSU beat No. 3 Oregon by 13 points. Later they traveled to West Virginia and crushed the Mountaineers 47-21.

Before the Alabama game the Tigers played rivals Florida, Tennessee and Auburn, winning all three games by 30 or more points.

But the Crimson Tide were loaded, too. With a beastly defense and a big-play offense, the Crimson Tide won every game before the matchup with LSU by 16 or more points—never allowing more than 14 points in a contest.

The Tigers and Crimson Tide featured a ‘who’s who’ of NFL-level talent. The list included Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid, Morris Claiborne, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Rueben Randle on LSU’s side and Dre’ Kirkpatrick, Don’t’a Hightower, Mark Barron, A.J. McCarron, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy for Alabama.

The game lived up to the hype in terms of drama —if you’re an LSU fan, at least. The Tigers won 9-6 in overtime and solidified themselves as the No. 1 team in the country and the champions of the SEC’s Western Division.

Neither offense scored a touchdown in the game—a field goal-fest ruled dominant defense, turnovers and special teams plays.

Alabama scored first on a 34-yard field goal from Jeremy Shelley, which put the Tide up 3-0 late in the first half. The successful kick bucked a trend for Alabama, which was abysmal on special teams in the game. On all three of the team’s first-quarter offensive drives, the Tide drove into LSU territory, but missed field goals, which allowed the Tigers to hang around on the scoreboard.

When Alabama wasn’t missing field goals they were starting drives deep in their own territory, thanks to LSU punter Brad Wing, who saw four of his six punts on the day get downed inside the 20-yard-line.

After Alabama took a 3-0 lead, LSU answered with points of their own—a clutch, 11-play, 74-yard drive capped with a short field goal which sent the game to halftime tied at 3-all.

Reserve quarterback Jordan Jefferson led the drive, replacing starter Jarrett Lee, who proved ineffective against the Crimson Tide’s

fierce defense. In the second half, the Tide got some chances, but LSU had a knack for slamming the door shut. Alabama got a fi eld goal in the third quarter to go up 6-3.

The Tide looked close to putting the game away late in the third quarter, but McCarron’s pass was picked off by Claiborne, which set up the Tigers with pristine field position, and led to a game-tying field goal to tie the game at 6.

Then, crazy happened. Alabama was driving deep into LSU territory and seemed poised to retake the lead. On first and 10 from the LSU 28-yard-line, the Tide lined up in a wildcat formation, faking a run and tossing a pass in the air near the end zone.

The pass appeared to be caught at the LSU 1-yard-line, but at the last second, Reid pulled the ball out of the receiver’s hands and into his own, turning over the football to the Tigers and drastically changing momentum in the game.

That play has been played and replayed literally thousands of times by LSU fans since it happened.

“It’s what you prepare for your whole life,” Reid said. “I got up in the air, timed my jump and just made a play.”

The turnover helped LSU send the game to overtime. While there, the Tigers’ defense stiffened, forcing a missed field goal from Alabama in the first possession.

After that, LSU took over and secured the win with a field goal of their own to win 9-6.

“This was a great night,” then-LSU coach Les Miles said. “Tough football. Not necessarily a pretty game, but it had a nice ending.”

The nice ending didn’t necessarily last. The teams met again in the BCS National Championship game just weeks later. Alabama won that game in decisive fashion and the Tigers haven’t beaten the Tide since.

Images: LSU Sports Information


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