NEW ORLEANS — Jeremy Shelley kicked five field goals and Trent Richardson broke a 34-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter as No. 2 Alabama beat No. 1 LSU 21-0 on Monday night — the first shutout in BCS title game history.
Richardson swept around left end and raced down the sideline to the end zone with 4:36 left for the first touchdown between the Southeastern Conference rivals in more than 115 minutes of play and one overtime period.
Alabama (12-1) had put it away before that as Shelley kicked field goals of 23, 34, 41, 35 and 44 yards in the first three quarters to make it 15-0, matching an all-bowl record. He also missed two field goals and an extra-point attempt.
But this time, the missed kicks didn’t matter to the Tide.
The Tigers (13-1) and Tide met on Nov. 5 in what was dubbed the Game of the Century, and the Tigers won a touchdown-less, defensive standoff, 9-6 in overtime. Alabama went 2 for 6 on field goals in Tuscaloosa.
Richardson, the Heisman Trophy finalist, ran for 96 yards on 20 carries and offensive player of the game A.J. McCarron passed for 234 yards as the Tide had no problem moving against LSU’s second-ranked defense in the nation — just not into the end zone.
Alabama’s top-ranked defense didn’t need much help. With All-American linebacker Dont’a Hightower leading the way, the Tide held LSU to 92 total yards and five first downs.
For the Tide, it’s the second BCS championship in the last three years under coach Nick Saban, who also won a title at LSU in 2003.
In a bowl season filled with high-scoring games, the top two defenses in the nation set the tone at the BCS title game. And much like the first meeting, special teams were pivotal.
The Tide’s defense was dominant and linebacker C.J. Mosley had the first takeway of the game in the third quarter, his last play of the game as it turned out.
LSU’s Jordan Jefferson started to scramble toward the line, but at the last second flipped the ball toward Spencer Ware. Problem was, Ware had turned to block and Mosley snagged the ball and set up Alabama at the Tigers 27.
Mosley was twisted down to the turf by Jefferson and his left leg bent awkwardly. The sophomore stayed down for several minutes and as the medical staff worked on him Alabama fans chanted his first name. As he was carted off, sitting up on the back of a golf cart, he got a huge ovation and pumped his fist.
Alabama couldn’t convert the field position into points as Shelley dropped to 4 for 6 on the day, missing wide right on a 41-yarder with 5:38 left in the third.
The next time down, he booted a 44-yarder, giving him more field goals than any kicker has ever had in a college bowl game. His seven attempts were also a record.
The Tide faked a 49-yard attempt early in the second quarter and went with a shovel pass to backup tight end Chris Underwood that gained 4 yards. He reached the first-down marker by the nose of the football.
The drive didn’t last much longer and Shelley’s 42-yard attempt was blocked by LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
Shelley came back to make one from 34 yards with 4:24 left in the half, and from 41 yards as time expired in the first half.
Alabama opened the second half with another solid drive that stalled, but Shelley tacked on another 3-pointer from 35 yards.
LSU’s offense was shut down completely. The Tigers managed two first downs and 66 yards through three quarters. The Tide, led by linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Mosley, gave Jefferson no space to run the option and only short gains when he passes.
It was Alabama’s special teams that struck first in the first BCS title game to match teams from the same conference.
Punt returner Marquis Maze found a lane and broke into the open around midfield, though he pulled up instead of trying to get around punter Brad Wing and grabbed his left leg while running out of bounds at the LSU 26 after a 49-yard run-back.
Maze, the Tide’s leading receiver, had to be helped over to the Alabama sideline, but he had put his team in scoring position. Maze didn’t play again.
McCarron completed a 15-yard pass to Darius Hanks to set up first-and-goal, but LSU’s defense, ranked second in the nation behind only Alabama, stiffened.
Shelley, who made one field goal and had another blocked in the first meeting between the SEC rivals, was perfect on a 23-yarder with 5:00 left in the first quarter.
It didn’t sound like an LSU home game at the Superdome, about 80 miles from its Baton Rouge campus. The dome was deafening on almost every play with a crowd that was much closer to 50-50 than partisan.
The racket coming from the crimson-clad Alabama fans might have even contributed to a mishandled snap by Jefferson on the first LSU series.
More than a few people questioned whether Oklahoma State should have been given Alabama’s spot in the BCS championship game, but the Tide won over the voters and earned a rematch with the Tigers.