BATON ROUGE, La. | One adjective did not survive No. 1 Alabama's trip to Tiger Stadium on Saturday night.
For most of the second half, it appeared that Alabama itself - or at least its BCS and Southeastern Conference hopes - would not be the survivor. LSU dominated much of the second half, but gave Alabama an opening with 1:34 to play and the Crimson Tide marched through that sliver of hope to a 21-17 win that ranks among the school's most dramatic victories ever.
Alabama took over at its own 28-yard line after a Drew Alleman field-goal miss that would have extended LSU's lead to six points. UA quarterback AJ McCarron, who had completed just one pass in the entire second half, needed 50 yards or so for a potential tying field goal, 72 yards for the win.
He got the 72 yards.
Finding an unlikely go-to receiver, Kevin Norwood, he completed a pass for 18 yards, another for 15 and a third for 11, all to Kevin Norwood. Those three completions moved the Crimson Tide to the LSU 28 - field-goal range. But after a first-down incompletion, Alabama came with the perfect play call. Catching the Tigers in a blitz, McCarron's screen went to T.J. Yeldon, who raced 28 yards for the decisive score.
LSU's final possession was ineffectual and the game ended as Damion Square sacked Zach Mettenberger to kill the final seconds.
"My team gave it everything we've got," LSU coach Les Miles said. "I would like to have a couple of my calls back, so you know."
LSU carried the fight to Alabama in the first quarter but managed only a field goal in the period, taking a 3-0 lead on Alleman's 38-yarder.
The Crimson Tide seemed to right the ship in the second quarter. First, it went on its most impressive march of the season, a 92-yard drive capped by a 7-yard Eddie Lacy touchdown run. Alabama then benefited from a questionable decision by LSU coach Les Miles. The Tigers attempted an unlikely 54-yard field goal by Alleman that fell far short and gave UA possession at its 37 with 1:08 left in the first half. UA covered the 63 yards in less than a minute, with McCarron scoring on a 9-yard run to push the lead to 14-3.
Even with the lead, Alabama coach Nick Saban cautioned that his team was "not stopping the run well enough," words that proved prophetic in the second half.
Instead of fading, LSU came back strong on both sides of the ball, stifling the Crimson Tide offense and showing unexpected offensive spark.
With McCarron enduring the worst half of his career, Alabama could not move the ball. His opposite number, Mettenberger, finished 24 of 35 for 298 yards, while McCarron was 14 for 27 for 165 yards. But McCarron got the yards that mattered most.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.