By Paul Newberry/The Associated Press
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — No. 1 LSU gained the inside track to the BCS title game, beating No. 2 Alabama 9-6 on Drew Alleman’s 25-yard field goal in overtime after a fierce defensive struggle in which neither team reached the end zone Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide missed four field goals, including Cade Foster’s 52-yard attempt after Alabama got the ball first in the extra period. LSU appeared to win the game on Michael Ford’s run around left end after taking a pitch, but he stepped out of bounds at the 7.
After two plays gained nothing, LSU (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) sent on Alleman to attempt his third field goal of the game on third down. Alabama (8-1, 5-1) tried to freeze him by calling timeout, but he calmly knocked it through to set off a wild celebration by the visiting team.
The crowd of more than 100,000 at Bryant-Denny Stadium — most of them dressed in crimson — sat in stunned silence as LSU celebrated its victory in only the 23rd regular-season matchup between the top two teams in The Associated Press rankings.
LSU still must win its last three regular-season games — No. 8 Arkansas is the toughest test — and then would have to get through the SEC championship game. But the Tigers are the clear favorite after winning another huge game away from home, emerging with the victory in a matchup between the two teams generally considered the best in the land.
Alabama will long be moaning about how this one got away. Foster missed two first-quarter field goals, and Jeremy Shelley had one blocked before Shelley finally made one from 34 yards. Alleman kicked a 19-yarder on the final play of the first half, leaving the teams tied at 3 even though the Crimson Tide clearly had the upper hand.
Interceptions set up both field goals in the second half. Foster made one from 46 yards after Jarrett Lee threw his second pick of the game, then Alleman connected from 30 yards after Alabama’s AJ McCarron made an ill-timed throw.
Outside of the kicking woes, Marquis Maze was at the center of two decisive plays in the fourth quarter that helped finish off the Crimson Tide. First, with Alabama threatening at the LSU 28, he took a snap in the wildcat formation and tried to surprise LSU with a pass. Tight end Michael Williams broke into the clear near the goal line, but Eric Reid hustled back to snatch it away as both players tumbled to the ground at the 1.
Reid wound up with the ball, the officials ruled it an interception and a replay upheld the call.
LSU failed to pick up a first down, and it looked as though Alabama would get it back in good field position to take another crack at the LSU end zone. But Maze appeared to lose the line-drive punt, turned away from it around his own 40 and the ball rolled all the way to the Alabama 19.
The Tiger got it out to around midfield on their final possession of regulation, then had to punt it away. Alabama took over with only 52 seconds left and settled for overtime.
Unlike Notre Dame’s infamous 10-10 tie with Michigan State in another 1-2 matchup in 1966, when the Irish ran out the clock at the end of the fourth quarter, this one could not end that way.