Today, I will depart ever so briefly from politics and take a moment to gloat.
Last night my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide met the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. The stadium, as any rival will tell you, is known as Death Valley. And with good reason.
Over its storied past, news services have long proclaimed Tiger Stadium the most intimidating venue in college football. Even famed Alabama Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant confessed, “Baton Rouge happens to be the worst place in the world for a visiting team. It’s like being inside a drum.”
Tigers faithful say it’s where visiting teams go to die.
I was at work while the game was on. I was nervous about the game because of the intense rivalry and getting alerts on my Smartphone weren't helping erase my anxiety.
My first alert told me LSU scored a field goal in the first quarter. Not to worry I thought. The second alert let me know that ‘Bama scored two TDs in the second quarter. Alright, boys. Way to go!
With 12:58 left in the fourth quarter, LSU scored a touchdown and was leading 17-14.
Knowing how tough the Tigers are, I got scared. Bear in mind, I’m at work and can’t watch the game. I can’t really get a sense of what’s going on. All I knew was that LSU QB Zack Mettenberger had a 25 of 36 pass completion rate averaging 8.2 yards per throw. He was besting ‘Bama QB A. J. McCarron who was 14 of 27.
I left work at 11:00 PM. As I drove home, I waited and waited for another text alert. I finally pulled up in my driveway, rushed inside and turned on my TV. I was able to catch the final minute of the game. OMG!
LSU was on the verge of putting the game away, driving into Alabama territory and forcing Coach Nick Saban to call his remaining timeout. But Drew Alleman missed a 38-yard field goal, and McCarron took over from there.
He completed three straight passes to put Alabama in scoring position. With 51 seconds left in the game, LSU brought a corner blitz and McCarron got the ball away quickly to T. J. Yeldon. The freshman running back broke one tackle and faked out another defender, racing to the end zone for the winning score. Talk about a Saturday night stunner in Death Valley.
There was one curious thing I was yet to decipher as I stood there watching that final minute. The cameras on the field were focusing on McCarron as he sat on the bench with a towel to his face. I wondered what was going on.
Mystery solved via Cecil Hurt writing for the Tuscaloosa News:
“On Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, the machine didn't function quite so well. Alabama was minus-two in turnovers, bereft of forward momentum, a team that looked young and rattled and, well, human. Which is what made the final few minutes, and the improbable win which emerged from Baton Rouge, an instant classic. Certainly, there was good execution—a final defensive stop that led to a missed LSU field goal, a dramatic two-minute drive. But what made it far more memorable was that Alabama, for the first time all year, felt human. Superman had been punched in the nose by an adversary just as big, just as strong, and it had drawn blood.”
“This game humanized Alabama. LSU exposed weaknesses that the relentless hype machine had denied. Alabama may still be the best team in the country and may prove it in Miami, but it doesn't seem like such a foregone conclusion. That isn't all bad. Seeing Alabama in a different light, with AJ McCarron weeping for joy or Jesse Williams exulting after an exhausting evening, doesn't somehow make them a lesser team. It makes them more human, but that only makes them more memorable.”
Then, there’s Erin Andrew’s tweet: “AJ McCarron's emotion has me a little choked up…this is why I love college fball so much…what a moment…awesome scene…goosebumps.”
Unbeatens Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame, all ranked 9-0 at the time of this post, were praying LSU would pull off college football’s upset of the year. Request denied.
Oh, and Zack, you’ll want to stop taunting the Tide faithful with your “call me” gesture. It’s not so funny now, is it man?
I’m going to assume that she would have done so and have contributed $100 to the Wounded Warrior Project to celebrate the Tide’s victory in Death Valley.
“If you want to walk the heavenly streets of gold, you gotta know the password, “Roll, Tide, Roll!”—Bear Bryant