Les Miles, in the fourth quarter of the game he won today versus Alabama, reached down to the ground, picked up a piece of the Tiger Stadium sod onto his tongue. It could have been an act of reverence, a kind of sacrament. It could have been a nervous tic picked up from years of playing offensive line. Les Miles could have eaten grass because, like a starving man wandering the deserts mad from hunger, he is insane and hungry.
The mystery will remain, but it wasn’t alone. Why did LSU, on a 4th and 1 call in the fourth quarter, call a reverse to Rueben Randle? Why, against the allegedly watertight Alabama defense, did it work? Why, when everyone in the stadium knew LSU will go for a fake anywhere on the field at any time, did Alabama offer up a clean alley on the left side of the punt formation for LSU to exploit in the third? Why was Jordan Jefferson on the screen as something called “Player of the Game”, and how did that happen?
Alabama didn’t fall to the Tigers because of voodoo alone. Alabama failed to consistently move the ball all game long thanks to relentless pressure from the LSU defense, particularly from the pair of lB Kelvin Sheppard and DT Drake Nevis. Nevis and Sheppard teamed up on the pivotal defensive play of the game, a strip of McElroy by Nevis and fumble recovery by Sheppard that effectively ended Alabama’s reasonable chances of winning the game.
Alabama did mount a manic drive at the end of the game capped by a Julio Jones TD catch, but it would end with a botched hook and lateral and the other enduring image of the night: Nick Saban, stunned and exasperated, looking up at the Tiger Stadium crowd in full throat and running to shake the hand of the man who, unlike Saban, had a team with a live shot at a spot in Atlanta and—in a scenario only possible in the dreams of men who eat grass off the ground—a shot at a spot in a BCS bowl.