#43: 2012 BCS National Championship Game — Alabama @ LSU in NCAA Football 12

Thirty-four Bowl Games have now been chronicled for the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL here at STAT BOX STORIES; the seasons of both the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers have been re-enacted in EA SPORTS NCAA Football 12, and their showdown in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game is the only game left to be played.  To all of those people who contributed work to this project–Eric Veneziano, Jeremy Etters, Quantrell Toval, Owen Good, Jeremy Bennett, David Searles, Jason Burt, Chris Jacobs, Tommy Gscwhend, and Matthew Lee–I am indebted to you all for the time and effort you have given towards the success of this project.

It makes sense, in a way, that it should come down to a rematch between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers; the very first entry here at STAT BOX STORIES previewed their regular season match-up.  In that game, I played as LSU and took home a victory, 28-10.  For this season-ending game, I have decided to take control of Alabama at the end of the season described in Eric Veneziano’s season write-ups from yesterday (Alabama here, LSU here) to decide which of these SEC powerhouses will taste victory in the Superdome tonight.

Since that season allowed for injuries, rosters will not exactly match the players who will be playing on the field tonight.  This will also be my first time playing the game using Matthew Lee’s–steelerfan–slider set, as those were the sliders set up for the season.  Finally, the quarter lengths were set to 6 minutes–instead of the customary 7 minute quarters I’ve been using–but it didn’t seem to have much of an effect on the action overall.

Roll Tide! Geaux Tigers!  It all comes down to one game…

In the biggest game of the season for these teams, Alabama won the coin toss and elected to kickoff to begin the game, hoping their defense would make a strong statement.  That wasn’t exactly what happened; instead, the Tigers drove down the field, converting on two 3rd-and-Long opportunities to keep their drive moving along.  When the drive finally did stall out—resulting in a 34 yard field goal conversion—LSU had taken more than half of the first quarter off the clock in building their 3-0 lead.

When the Crimson Tide finally did get an offensive possession, they didn’t really take advantage of it; the result was a quick three-and-out and the ball going right back to the Tigers.  The ‘Bama defense did step up during this drive, however, forcing a fumble at midfield and recovering it to regain possession.  The drive that followed ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by HB #3 with 3:04 remaining in the second quarter to see Alabama take a 7-3 lead.

LSU’s next drive was stymied by a sack, and the Tigers were thrown off-schedule and suffered a three-and-out.  When Alabama got the ball with just two minutes remaining in the half and deep in their own end of the field, they changed their temp by running a no-huddle offense.  Four completions in a row for QB #10—including the final completion, a 17-yard touchdown pass to TE #89—gave the Tide a 14-3 lead with only 32 seconds left in the first half.

With little time remaining on the clock, LSU tried to get themselves in manageable Hail Mary position; though they brought the ball to midfield, the final pass attempt as the game clock expired was deflected incomplete at the Alabama 5-yard-line.

In the second half, Alabama received the ball and drove past midfield to open the third quarter.  A poor decision on a pass, however, saw the Tigers grab an interception deep in their own territory and end the Tide’s chances of extending their lead.  If there was any bright side to this for Alabama, it was that the Tigers went three-and-out after the interception, wasting a chance for them to bring themselves back into the game.

Alabama was putting together another solid drive after fielding the punt, once again getting across midfield and into the Tigers end of the field.  Facing a 4th-and-2 just outside of field goal range, the Tide decided to go for it and poor decision-making again gifted possession to LSU through an interception.

Still down 14-3, LSU was running out of chances to stay in the game.  When they were faced with a 4th-and-8 conversion in Alabama territory, they had no choice but to go for it; the Tigers faithful fanbase groaned in disappointment as the pass from QB #9 was caught, but well short of the first down marker.

The ensuing drive for the Crimson Tide again saw Alabama crossing midfield into LSU territory, but when LSU’s defense began to step up, a 50-yard field goal attempt was the play call to try and extend the lead.  Now it was time for the crimson-clad fans to groan as the field goal hooked left and fell short of the uprights, keeping the score at 14-3.

With only a few minutes remaining in the game, it was essentially LSU’s last chance to make a statement in the game.  The Tigers were unable to cross midfield, and faced a 4th-and-12 conversion opportunity.  With the Superdome rocking and the BCS National Championship on the line, the deep pass fell incomplete and possession returned to Alabama.

The game clock read just over a minute remaining, and LSU had all three of their timeouts remaining to force the Tide to return the ball to them.  After the Tigers defense stepped up on 1st and 2nd Down to force an unmanageable 3rd Down attempt, Alabama’s HB #3 ripped off a 9-yard run to convert the 1st Down, forcing LSU to use their final timeout and watch helplessly as the Crimson Tide kneeled on the ball and began the celebration of their National Championship win.

Looking at the Team Stats, it’s clear that Alabama was relying heavily on their running game—with 40 rushes and only 8 pass attempts—while LSU sought a more balanced offense with 20 rushes and 18 pass attempts.  The Tide outgained LSU on the ground by over a hundred yards, while the Tigers barely edged Alabama in passing yards, 72-to-71.  Alabama was only slightly better at converting 3rd Downs, while neither team found success trying for 4th Downs.  LSU won the turnover battle by forcing two interceptions, but they were unable to turn either miscue into points.  Finally, Alabama handily won the battle for Time of Possession, holding the ball for 15:07 compared to LSU’s 8:53.

It was definitely not a day for quarterbacks; even though Alabama’s QB #10 completed 62% of his passes, he threw 2 interceptions to offset the single touchdown pass.  The easy Player of the Game decision was Alabama’s HB #3, whose 35 carries led to 148 yards on the ground and a touchdown.  For the receiving corps, Alabama’s TE #89 led all players with 3 catches and 43 yards, including the touchdown strike just before halftime that finished out the scoring.  In such a low-scoring game, kudos must given to the defensive stars as well.  Alabama’s DT #99 had 6 total tackles, including 2 sacks, while LSU’s ROLB #22 had 7 total tackles and an interception.

Considering that neither LSU nor Alabama were able to find the end zone in their real-life regular season meeting, it might be a lot to expect even two touchdowns in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game tonight.  Now STAT BOX STORIES two playthroughs of games between the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide have been split, with each team earning a victory; will the real-life Tide be able to able to earn the split tonight and hoist the crystal trophy?  Will the Tigers of LSU “hold serve” and go undefeated to unanimously rule over the college football landscape?  Will the AP voters crown their own #1 school if Alabama wins a close game, opting to go with Oklahoma State over either SEC school?

We continue counting down the hours to kickoff so that we can all find out…

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to and read the entries of the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL here at STAT BOX STORIES.  You can be certain that we’ll be doing this again in December of 2012 and January of 2013, so keep your NCAA Football stick skills up!

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