The questions had been raised and Saturday night in Death Valley, those questions were answered.
The Alabama Crimson Tide had been a team with a MO of jumping out in front of teams and coasting to victory in the first eight games of the season, but how would they play in a knock down, drag out street fight against the LSU Tigers? How would they respond if they trailed a game for a few mere seconds as they did against the Ole Miss Rebels? And could Alabama win a game in the fourth quarter?
The deck was stacked in the Tigers favor. LSU was out for blood, looking for revenge after last year’s embarrassment in the national championship game. Les Miles and his team not only had two weeks to get ready for the evening affair, designing a perfect game plan for quarterback Zach Mettenberger, but the fans of Death Valley had two weeks to rest their voices.
Opponents dreams may come to die in Death Valley, but the Crimson Tide showed they are no common opponent-no, this group in Tuscaloosa is unique.
Gassed in the fourth quarter, the defense struggled to stuff the run, as Mettenberger chucked darts at the Alabama secondary, but the Tide were holding on. Then it happened, almost like a perfect storm.
AJ McCarron fumbled on an exchange late in the 3rd quarter to freshman tailback TJ Yeldon and the Tigers took the ball and stole the momentum as Mettenberger made the Alabama pay with a precise jump ball to Jarvis Landry to give the Tigers a 17-14 lead.
Alabama had not been in this position before. McCarron and the Tide offense struggled to get into a rhythm as memories of November 5th, 2011 crossed the mind of Alabama fans. But the defense held on by the skin of their teeth, bending but not breaking. Then it happened.
As Alabama fans bit their nails under that Louisiana sky and the ones watching at home were trying to calm their nerves with the drink of choice, the only one who seemed unfazed with McCarron. Cool under pressure, but aware of what was on the line the junior from Mobile, who grew up dreaming of making plays like this for his childhood favorite Crimson Tide had the chance to become the stuff on legend.
And just as the Tide practice and as McCarron dreamed growing up he stared into the Tigers defense as the decibel level in Baton Rouge intensified. But the Tide QB stayed calm, flipping the switch, finding Kevin Norwood multiple times on the drive before setting up the play-staring into a speeding pass rusher as he lofted the ball perfectly to Yeldon as the freshman tailback showed the country why he was one of the top prep tailbacks, racing and cutting to the endzone, eager to get into the endzone as he was to silence the Death Valley crowd
At Alabama, if you make those special plays, they make paintings of it. The Blackout, Rocky Block, and The Shutout have become the stuff of legend in Tuscaloosa and through Tide Nation. Saturday night was one of those nights that will be the stuff of legend should the Crimson Tide finish the season with a crystal ball in Miami.
It was also the night where they answered plenty of questions