Alabama-LSU: 15 biggest moments during the “Saban Bowl” era
In 2007 — two years after leaving LSU for a short stint with the Miami Dolphins — Nick Saban signed a contract to become Alabama’s 27th coach.
Fans in Baton Rouge were understandably peeved; the man who won them a national title in ’03 was suddenly wearing crimson. But the hatred was not borne out of jealousy.
LSU was set in the head coaching department, after all.
Les Miles’ Tigers were preseason favorites to win another SEC title, while ‘Bama had not hit double-digit wins in five years.
The teams met in October 2007. LSU was 7-1 and ranked No. 3 in the country. Saban’s Alabama team was 6-2 and ranked No. 17.
Media dubbed it the “Saban Bowl,” and one of the nation’s best rivalries quickly became the best.
Here are the 15 biggest Alabama-LSU moments since Saban showed up in Tuscaloosa:
2007: “The Strip”
Game situation: Bryant-Denny Stadium. (No. 3) LSU 34, (No. 17) Alabama 34. 1:51 remaining in fourth quarter. 3rd-and-12. Alabama ball on Alabama 30-yard-line.
Less than a minute after LSU quarterback Matt Flynn tied the game with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Early Doucet, Alabama signal-caller John Parker Wilson gave the contest away.
Tigers defensive back Chad Jones broke through the line on a disguised blitz, grabbed Wilson and stripped him of the ball. Teammate Curtis Taylor pounced on it at the 2-yard-line, and running back Jacob Hester punched it in two plays later to win, 41-34. WATCH
2008: “The Block”
Game situation: Tiger Stadium. (No. 1) Alabama 21, (No. 15) LSU 21. 0:01 remaining in fourth quarter. 3rd-and-10. Alabama ball on LSU 12-yard-line.
Saban spent the week telling his players to beat up each individual Tiger and “make his ass quit.” But the Tigers did little quitting, and came up with a big play in the final second.
Leigh Tiffin’s potential game-winning 29-yard field goal was tipped near the line of scrimmage, and Darry Beckwith eventually went down with the ball near the goal line to send the game into overtime. WATCH
2008: “The Sneak”
Game situation: Tiger Stadium. (No. 1) Alabama 21, (No. 15) LSU 21. Second possession of overtime. 2nd-and-1. Alabama ball on LSU 1-yard-line.
After the blocked kick, LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee threw an ill-advised pass into double coverage. Safety Rashad Johnson picked the ball off, putting Alabama in position to win with just a field goal.
But Saban didn’t need to go back to Tiffin. Wilson fired a 23-yard back-shoulder pass to Julio Jones, and then finished off the Tigers with a quarterback sneak. WATCH
2009: “The Dash”
Game situation: Bryant-Denny Stadium. (No. 8) LSU 15, (No. 3) Alabama 13. 10:37 remaining in the fourth quarter. 1st-and-10. Alabama ball on Alabama 27-yard-line.
The Alabama offense needed life, and it got some from star wideout Julio Jones. Quarterback Greg McElroy ran play-action right before spinning and hitting Jones with a screen pass. The receiver raced 73 yards down the sideline to put ‘Bama up for the good in the final quarter. WATCH
2009: “The Review”
Game situation: Bryant-Denny Stadium. (No. 3) Alabama 21, (No. 8) LSU 15. 6:02 remaining in the fourth quarter. 2nd-and-7. Alabama ball on LSU 40-yard-line.
Alabama was able to put away the game after officials failed to award LSU the ball on what appeared to be a Patrick Peterson interception. McElroy fired a bullet to the right sideline, where Peterson appeared to snag the ball with — not one — but two feet inbounds.
The ensuing review made it clearer: LSU would be getting the ball. But the call was not changed, and ‘Bama wound up kicking a field goal to ice the game.
“Reasonable people will disagree,” CBS broadcaster Verne Lundquist said of the call. WATCH
2010: “The Spark”
Game situation: Tiger Stadium. (No. 6) Alabama 10, (No. 10) LSU 3. 8:30 remaining in the third quarter. 1st-and-10. LSU ball on LSU 25-yard-line.
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson had not thrown a touchdown pass since Week 1 vs. North Carolina. His Tigers were down seven points at their own 6-yard-line when he fired a 19-yard strike to Terrence Toliver.
On the next play, he let one rip to Reuben Randle, who outran the ‘Bama defense for a 75-yard score. Alabama would regain the lead again, but LSU’s offense was suddenly alive. WATCH
2010: “The Dive”
Game situation: Tiger Stadium. (No. 10) LSU 21, (No. 6) Alabama 14. 7:38 remaining in the fourth quarter. 2nd-and-6. Alabama ball on the Alabama 33-yard-line.
Fourteen straight points from LSU had ‘Bama backed into the corner. McElroy tried to get things going, but his center whiffed on a block, and Tigers tackle Drake Nevis had a clean shot at the quarterback.
Apparently shocked at the easy opportunity, Nevis tripped himself up. But instead of falling to the turf, he dove forward to knock the ball out of McElroy’s hand. LSU grabbed it and added a field goal to effectively end the game. WATCH
2011: “The Trick Pick”
Game situation: Bryant-Denny Stadium. (No. 1) LSU 6, (No. 2) Alabama 6. 11:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. 1st-and-10. Alabama ball on the LSU 28-yard-line.
Miles is known as The Mad Hatter for his trick plays and quirky decision-making, but Saban appeared to pull a rabbit out of the hat during the “Game of the Century.”
Marquis Maze took a Wildcat snap, faked a handoff, and then fired a pass to tight end Michael Williams, who appeared to catch the ball at the 1-yard-line. But LSU safety Eric Reid came up with the pigskin, and officials awarded possession to the Tigers in a game-changing decision. WATCH
2011: “The Finger”
Game situation: Bryant-Denny Stadium. (No. 1) LSU 6, (No. 2) Alabama 6. Second possession of overtime. 3rd-and-10. LSU ball on the Alabama 7-yard-line.
Alabama doomed itself with penalties and a missed 52-yard field goal in overtime. All LSU had to do was get in decent position for kicker Drew Alleman, who drained a 25-yarder and immediately “shushed” the Bryant-Denny crowd. WATCH
2012: “The Shovel”
Game situation: National championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. (No. 2) Alabama 12, (No. 1) LSU 0. 7:07 remaining in the third quarter. 2nd-and-12. LSU ball on the LSU 18-yard-line.
LSU’s offense was completely beaten down up to this point — and then it broke in comical fashion. Jefferson, looking for all the world like someone who’d never played a down, took “jitters” to a new level by throwing a shovel pass directly to Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Jefferson’s receiver had turned around to block, and Mosley made the play to suck any remaining life out of the LSU “O.” Unfortunately, the play was Mosley’s last — he tore up his knee while being tackled by Jefferson. WATCH
2012: “The Nail”
Game situation: National championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. (No. 2) Alabama 15, (No. 1) LSU 0. 4:45 remaining in the fourth quarter. 2nd-and-9. Alabama ball on the LSU 34-yard-line.
The casket closed for good on LSU when Alabama running back Trent Richardson bounced a run to the left sideline and broke free to give the Tide their 14th national championship. WATCH
2012: “The Screen”
Game situation: Tiger Stadium. (No. 5) LSU 17, (No. 1) Alabama 14. 1:00 remaining in the fourth quarter. 2nd-and-10. Alabama ball on the LSU 28-yard-line.
With their field goal unit in a funk, Alabama needed to get into the end zone late against LSU. Quarterback A.J. McCarron found Yeldon on a perfectly executed slip screen, and he scampered past three Tigers en route to the game-winning score. WATCH
2013: “The Crawl”
Game situation: Bryant-Denny Stadium. (No. 1) Alabama 38, (No. 13) LSU 17. 3:37 remaining in the fourth quarter. 1st-and-10. LSU on the LSU 49-yard-line.
The game was already ugly before LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger took the beating of a lifetime. Alabama drove the Tigers offense back 27 yards in the span of four plays, sacking Mettenberger on each of them.
With Bryant-Denny roaring, an injured Mettenberger dragged himself several yards before finally getting up off the ground. The sight was macabre — the exclamation point on a day that couldn’t have gone any worse for LSU. WATCH
2014: “The Hit”
Game situation: Tiger Stadium. (No. 5) Alabama 13, (No. 16) LSU 13. 0:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. Kickoff. LSU to receive.
LSU running back Leonard Fournette is this year’s runaway Heisman Trophy favorite, but Alabama fans aren’t too scared of him after watching linebacker Reuben Foster deliver a massive collision at the end of regulation. WATCH
2014: “The Fade”
Game situation: Tiger Stadium. (No. 5) Alabama 13, (No. 16) LSU 13. First possession of overtime. 2nd-and-goal. Alabama ball on the LSU 6-yard-line.
After losing the coin toss, Alabama quickly marched toward the end zone. Quarterback Blake Sims lofted a pretty touch pass to slot receiver DeAndrew White, who was running a fade pattern while flanker Christion Jones cut in to distract the defense.
White beat safety Jalen Mills in the air to grab the lead, and Alabama’s defense held on during the second possession by tipping away a fourth-down pass in the end zone. The win was Alabama’s fourth straight against LSU. WATCH
You can count on this list growing soon; LSU visits Alabama Saturday night (8 pm ET, CBS).