Mitchell: Bama Seizes Opportunity
Posted Nov 4, 2012

Say what you will about Bama's performance Saturday night in Death Valley, but champions seize opportunity when it presents itself, and that's exactly what the Tide did in beating the Tigers

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb

Whatever the circumstances, champions seize opportunity.

Many in the world of college football will likely point to the fact that, as the saying goes, the only thing the prevent defense does is prevent the team employing it from winning. But that's far too simple an answer to explain Bama's thrilling come from behind, seemingly "upset" victory against LSU - if a nine point favorite could ever find itself an upset winner.

Champions seize opportunity.

That's the storyline on a night where the No. 1 team in the nation, Alabama, was outplayed in nearly every facet of the game vs. the home team LSU Tigers…yet nevertheless walked away the victor, with their back-to-back championship dreams still alive.

The Tigers crossed the 50 yard line on their first possession of the game, and then quickly made it a habit – in the process humbling a Tide defense that may have entered with its reputation somewhat inflated thanks to a modest schedule.

LSU would end up with 435 total yards of offense, with nearly 300 yards of that coming through the air, and converted on 50% of its third down attempts (10-of-20, most of them passes). Conversely, a stout LSU defense manhandled the Tide for 53 minutes of the game, holding Alabama to 1-of-9 on third down conversions.

As a result, LSU had the ball for twice as long as the visiting Tide, running 85 offensive plays to Bama's 52.

But it was the Tigers' embattled quarterback Zach Mettenberger who stole the show Saturday, even in defeat. Not unlike in the BCS title game last season, when Bama's AJ McCarron and Nick Saban surprised LSU by coming out throwing, the Tigers' Les Miles unleashed Mettenberger to astonishing effect.

The junior college transfer, who arrived in Red Stick with so much promise but had largely disappointed, simply drilled the heretofore vaunted Tide. His final stat line: 24-of-35 passing for 296 yards, with one touchdown and zero interceptions. But it was more than that.

LSU's receivers dropped at least four passes in the first half, and Mettenberger stood tall in the pocket (thanks to some unexpectedly good protection by his patchwork offensive line), and threw strike after strike, regularly making the right call and extending one drive after another.

For 59 minutes his counterpart, McCarron, had a night he'd like to forget. Until just like in 2011, redemption came knocking.

Whatever the circumstances, champions seize opportunity.

A year ago in Tuscaloosa, LSU's defense made Bama QB AJ McCarron look equally bad. Two months later in the BCS title game, with six weeks to prepare, McCarron looked like a different quarterback.

Flash forward to Saturday in Death Valley, and once again McCarron was largely pedestrian. But on two, "two minute" drives, McCarron looked special once again.

Perhaps we shouldn't be that surprised, given that like the six weeks he had to prepare for the BCS title game, two minutes drills are often scripted and practiced ad nauseam.

But whatever the circumstances, Bama was faced with an opportunity in the Superdome last January, and they seized it. Faced once again with an opportunity, with just 1:34 to play, in front of a hostile crowd, the defending BCS champions would not let it slip away.

Because champions seize opportunity.

Russ Mitchell is the lead SEC columnist for CFN. Follow him @russmitchellcfb