TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Eric Reid, one of LSU’s heroes of Saturday’s 9-6 overtime victory at Alabama, drove a painful dagger into the hearts of Crimson Tide fans everywhere with his goal-line interception in the fourth quarter Saturday, thwarting Bama’s last best chance to score in regulation.
That wasn’t to say Reid wasn’t feeling the pain himself a day later.
“Bama backfield was def(initely) something serious,” Reid tweeted just after noon Sunday. “Headed to the training room.”
Of course, for Reid, and his fellow Tigers, a soak in the cold pool or the hot tub would also come with the satisfaction of soaking in one of the biggest wins in LSU history.
The first No. 1 versus No. 2 regular-season matchup ever among two Southeastern Conference schools produced an intense if not artistically beautiful slugfest of two powerful programs who based their success on defenses determined not to give up an inch of goal line to the other.
For what the game lacked in touchdowns, it made up for in intensity and savage hitting dealt out by both sides. It was a game that moved LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis to call it the most physical, hard-fought game he’s ever been involved with.
“That was a classical game,” defensive end Sam Montgomery said. “That game should have been on pay-per-view.”
Montgomery was one of several Tigers who had a direct hand in helping No. 1-ranked LSU pull out the dramatic victory.
Tied 6-6 at the end of regulation, No. 2 Alabama got the ball first after LSU won the coin toss.
Following an incompletion and its second penalty for breaking the huddle with two many men on the field, the Crimson Tide’s AJ McCarron threw incomplete for Trent Richardson. On third-and-15, Montgomery sacked McCarron for a 5-yard loss at the 35, setting up a 52-yard field goal try by Cade Foster.
Foster’s kick was low and well left of the south goalposts at Bryant-Denny Stadium, leaving the Tide a woeful 2-for-6 on field goal attempts, including a second-quarter block by LSU’s Bennie Logan.
Then, it was the Tigers’ turn. After a 3-yard gain by Spencer Ware, Michael Ford appeared to end the game with a run around left end, but he was ruled out of bounds at the 7.
Two plays allowed LSU to center the ball between the uprights at the 8 before Alabama coach Nick Saban called time to try to make Tigers kicker Drew Alleman think about the kick.
Alleman, if he had been of a mind to be so brazen, could have trotted over to the Bama sideline and told Saban not to bother.
“Coaches think that it does,” said Alleman, who made field goals of 19 and 30 yards in regulation, “but as a kicker you know you’re going to be put in that situation, so you’ve just got to take it and run with it.”
After he made the 25-yard game-winner, Alleman ran with holder/punter Brad Wing on his back as LSU coach Les Miles was splashed with a celebratory water bath and the Tigers spilled onto the field.
It was the only time LSU led the entire night.
“You just have to keep fighting and finding a way to win,” said Miles, who is now 3-2 against Saban and the first LSU coach ever to win five meetings with Alabama overall.
“There are the two interceptions by Reid and (Morris) Claiborne. There’s the (73-yard fourth quarter) punt by (Brad) Wing. There’s some 6-yard run. Just a lot of great tackles made the difference.”
The victory was LSU’s 10th straight, stretching from its victory over Texas A&M in January’s Cotton Bowl. It’s LSU’s longest winning streak since capturing 13 straight in 2006-07.
LSU is now 9-0 (6-0 Southeastern Conference) for the first time since 1973. That season, it was Alabama that put an end to the Tigers’ run with a 21-7 Thanksgiving night defeat.
The win strengthened LSU’s grip on the No. 1 spot in the BCS and all the major polls.
LSU’s BCS average improved from .973 last week to .993. Meanwhile, the Tigers captured every first-place vote but three in the three major human polls — The Associated Press Top 25, the USA Today coaches poll and the Harris Interactive poll. The latter two comprise two-thirds of the BCS formula.
Oklahoma State (9-0), where Les Miles was head coach from 2001-04 before heading to LSU, improved to No. 2 in the BCS and the polls for the first time ever.
Alabama (8-1, 5-1) saw its hopes of a rematch with LSU remain very much alive by slipping only one spot to No. 3 in the BCS standings, though the Crimson Tide is No. 4 in all of the human polls. Stanford (9-0) is No. 4 in the BCS, followed by Boise State (8-0).
“We can’t control our own destiny, but we can control what we do from here on out,” Alabama center William Vlachos said.
“If we continue to keep the foot on the pedal and get better, I think we have a chance to do something very, very special this season.”
The only real negative that came out of the game for the Tigers was a renewed concern at quarterback.
LSU now returns home for its final home night game of the season as it hosts Western Kentucky at 6 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium on ESPNU.
The Hilltoppers got in their dramatic kicks as well Saturday, as Casey Tinius booted a 34-yard field goal as time expired to lift WKU to a 10-9 win over Florida International.
Western Kentucky (5-4, 5-1 Sun Belt) has won five straight games.