Miles and LSU beat Saban at his own game (UPDATED)

Les Miles deserved to be in middle of the celebration after a 9-6 win over Alabama.

Les Miles deserved to be in middle of the celebration after a 9-6 win over Alabama.

(UPDATED)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Notwithstanding that college football’s projected game of the century had the distinct look of a Liverpool-Chelsea soccer game, this night belonged to Les Miles.

Miles replaced Nick Saban, who had won a national championship at LSU in 2003. Miles won a BCS title himself four years later. But it seemed he never was fully embrace in Baton Rouge. Then came last November. A Miles-esque fake field goal in the fourth quarter led to a touchdown and a 24-21 comeback win over Alabama at LSU. And he just did it again.

Miles and the Tigers found themselves in the unusual position as the BCS’s No. 1 ranked team but a five-point underdog to No. 2 Saban and Alabama Saturday. Safe to say it will be the last time this season they will be an underdog — and the last time Miles has to hear, “He’s good, but he’s not Nick.”

In a meeting of two 8-0 teams, the Tigers won in overtime 9-6. The last defensive spasm and the game’s fifth field goal won it — a 25-yarder by Drew Alleman.

It’s time for Miles to get his due. He’s not just the Mad Hatter who flips a coin between plays. He wins games — big games. Taking a team into Tuscaloosa and winning is no easy task, especially over the coach he keeps getting compared to.

Miles beat Saban at his own game — with defense, with physical play, with a punch to the mouth.

When asked afterward if he considered faking a field goal attempt earlier in the game, Miles smiled and responded, “There was not a chance we were going to fake anything tonight.”

He fooled us again.

Georgia, which scored 63 points in its walkover of New Mexico State Saturday. The Bulldogs moved into the SEC East lead by virtue of South Carolina’s loss at Arkansas. Suffice to say, if the Dogs hold on and win the division, their offense will have a monumental challenge in the conference championship game.

Nobody expected this game to resemble Sid Gillman nirvana. But to have the two best teams in the nation tied with two field goals and two interceptions after regulation wasn’t quite the blueprint, either. Shouldn’t something labeled the “Game of the Century” require at least one touchdown?

“I don’t know — this as close to a national championship game as I’ve been in,” said LSU defensive end Markevious Mingo. “I guess not.”

Great games don’t require finesse and art. One day, somebody may find a time capsule with a grainy black-and-white 8-millimeter film of this game. But few figured it was the kind of game Miles could win and Saban would lose.

If you looked close, you could see the smoke rising off of Saban’s head. His team drove the ball effectively in their first four possessions and had four scoring chances. The net result: three points. Kicker Cade Foster missed 44- and 50-yard field goal attempts. Saban later changed strategy — but the wrong strategy. Facing a fourth-and-17 from the Tigers’ 31, he opted to send in backup kicker Jeremy Shelley for a 49-yard attempt rather than going for it or even punting to gain field position.

Shelley’s kick would’ve hit a Lilliputian in the head. It was blocked.

Alabama left too many points on the field in a game where points figured to be at a premium.

In the end, LSU made plays and Alabama botched them. Early in the fourth from the LSU 28, Saban — as if channeling Miles — called for a halfback pass by Marquis Maze to Michael Williams. The Tide’s tight end seemed to have the ball as he was going down at the Tigers’ 1-yard line. But Reid took it away for an interception (a play that was upheld on replay).

When the Tigers’ ensuing drive ended quickly, the Tigers’ Brad Wing, standing at his own goal line, boomed a punt to midfield that Maze inexplicably let sail over his head. By the time the ball stopped rolling, it was at the Bama 18 — a 73-yard punt.

In overtime, it was Alabama, not LSU, that melted in the moment. The Tide had a substitution penalty. Quarterback A.J. McCarron was sacked. Foster missed a 52-yard field goal. That made it easy for LSU: Drew Allman made a 25-yarder. Game over.

Some will scream that the BCS rankings shouldn’t change and the teams should play again for the title. But why? Alabama had its chance, even if as Reid said later: “Alabama is definitely worthy of being No. 2. I don’t think they should move from the No. 2 spot. They should stay right where they are. I just thank God we got the victory.”

Miles won a BCS title four years after Saban in Baton Rouge but he never was fully embraced. That should change now. He just beat Saban at his own game.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

481 comments Add your comment

dawgs

November 5th, 2011
11:54 pm

Chris

November 5th, 2011
11:57 pm

Herschel Talker

November 5th, 2011
11:59 pm

Schultzie:

You the man!

HT

Humble Dawg

November 6th, 2011
12:00 am

Dawgs still need to beat a pretty good AU team. And then take care of business against KY. Then talk about LSU.

LSU

November 6th, 2011
12:01 am

Would all the Bama fans, please shut up.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

torontotiger

November 6th, 2011
12:02 am

Both defenses were outstanding.

The Falcon Jedi

November 6th, 2011
12:02 am

When you lose by a FG in OT, and your team was 2/6 kicking FGs. That has to hurt LOL

Scholarship

November 6th, 2011
12:05 am

Sunday Nites BCS Rankings

LSU
Oklahoma St.
Stanford
Alabama
Boise St.
Oklahoma
Arkansas

Yo Dog

November 6th, 2011
12:09 am

UGA loses 56-7 against LSU. Worst is that Richt states 5 year contract for nothing more than mediocre year. Dogs fan suffering continues.

P_The_Ricker

November 6th, 2011
12:09 am

FireNickSaban.com

reality check

November 6th, 2011
12:15 am

Wake up Dawg fans. CMR presides over a house of cards. Look who we’ve beaten. We haven’t beaten a good team in nearly two years. We barely beat Vandy, UT was too close, UF is awful and we squeezed that one out. Remember Central Florida last year??
Have some nads!! Move on. Don’t settle for mediocrity!! Take off your rose-colored glasses, quick drinking the Kool Aid…. Face reality.
Kevin Sumlin, Univ Houston head ball coach. Check him out.

yearofthedawg

November 6th, 2011
12:16 am

I hate fair weather fans. But the only thing worse is fans that whine and moan no matter what. Seven wins in a row and resiliency in tough times, and all people can do is gripe.

Even if we can’t win the SECCG, lets bust our tails to get to it. Rather get there and lose than not get there at all. At least we’re in the discussion if we’re suiting up in December.

Rick

November 6th, 2011
12:18 am

YoDog your an idiot. 1st place in the east after losing to Boise which is pretty good and to SC before they lost Lattimore then 7 straight wins. I don’t care who you play 7 in a row onthe way to 9 in a row isn’t mediocre. I think the dogs will be overmatched in the SEC title game but for the next 4 years it looks like the Dogs are back on the upswing.

1962 DAWG

November 6th, 2011
12:19 am

Where you at Tide Roll?

Just curious

November 6th, 2011
12:21 am

I am just so glad that Alabama lost because last weekend the most obnoxious little Alabama sorority girls (won’t name which one) and their big boyfriends were staying at “Gramma’s” condo next to ours, where we live full-time. It was GA-FLA weekend, not one for bad little Alabama students. They stole items from our front door and a big UGA magnet from our car. Then, they were really rude when confronted. Anyway, go DAWGS and thanks, LSU!

UF in a mirror is FU

November 6th, 2011
12:21 am

Two sorry teams with sucky offences and below average special teams, boring game beyound belief! 1

Rick

November 6th, 2011
12:22 am

Rict will be at UGA until he gets ready to step down so get off that train and I do think that if and when he leaves on his own terms that we will hire someone with a better resume than Kevin Sumlin from big ole Houston.

BobDawg

November 6th, 2011
12:24 am

Lots of ball left to play. Time to turn the mother ship off and get ready fir the Barners

Milk

November 6th, 2011
12:24 am

So many Georgia haters in here…but where is their team? That’s what I thought.

Who knows what can happen any given afternoon in college football? GO DAWGS

My time

November 6th, 2011
12:24 am

It a house of mirrors. Only reason UGA is in the hunt is b/c of scheduling. That’s it: case closed.
If we had to play Bama, LSU or Ark right now we’d be a big O’fer against the west and 4-4 overall.
We’ve played the sister’s of the poor of the SEC West.
Why do fans cherish loyalty so much?? Nothing wrong with being honest and realizing CMR has lost his edge and the program is a half step behind the best.
We weren’t even in the game against Boise St. Rmbr the Bama game two years ago (hands head in emberassment)??? We barely beat a mediocre ASU team the week before. WE ARE NOT WHO Y”ALL THINK WE ARE!!! All this talk “the Georgia way”…. KMA it’s hollow speak!

Mr Charlie

November 6th, 2011
12:24 am

Rick, I would like to think so, but UGA just is not a well coached team. Way too many stupid plays, boneheaded penalties, and just general confusion. It took an act of god to beat Vandy.

danny

November 6th, 2011
12:25 am

There is no reason at all to think that we would beat LSU. But we always play them good and you have a punchers chance………………

dawg555

November 6th, 2011
12:25 am

I sure as heck had rather be in the position of playing them than not….even if we get the crap beaten out of us. Go Dawgs

Milk

November 6th, 2011
12:26 am

And no way LSU puts 56 on UGA. Georgia has a good defense. I don’t know why people are sleeping on Georgia. THEY HAVE A DEFENSE and an offense that is starting to click. Believe it or not, the UGA offense is very explosive…and our defense can be dominant at times. LSU has NO PASSING GAME AT ALL…and our defense prides themselves on stopping the run…ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.

BELIEVE

Mr Charlie

November 6th, 2011
12:26 am

Ever since the FLA game when everyone ran on the field, UGA has trended down. Like Richt pissed off the football gods or something.

Milk

November 6th, 2011
12:27 am

Answer me this…what is Richt’s record vs. LSU since he’s been here.

CASE CLOSED

Richt is LOL'ing u Haters

November 6th, 2011
12:27 am

Take car of business vs. Auburn now.

Go Dawgs! Coach

Richt is AWESOME!!!

Milk

November 6th, 2011
12:28 am

Mr Charlie…your clearly stupid…didn’t we win the Sugar Bowl that year? You idiot.

Mr Charlie

November 6th, 2011
12:28 am

UGA has the talent to beat LSU, but not enough talent to spot them 10 on special teams, and have 13 penalties.

Big Butts Wally

November 6th, 2011
12:30 am

It don’t matter. Shultze always picks the dogs to lose. And his sidekick Bradley always wants Richt fired. What a rag.

David Granger

November 6th, 2011
12:31 am

Had been hearing all week that these were two of the best defenses in a long time. Looks like everybody was right. Bet you anything Nick Saban will tell his recruiters: “Find me a KICKER!”

Mixed emotions about Georgia. Afraid winning the SEC East will save Mark Richt’s job, and we’d be better if he left. A real strict disciplinarian would solve a lot of our problems…but Coach Richt runs a loose ship.

William

November 6th, 2011
12:31 am

I guess Yodog and his ilk would rather lose? Yodog is a Yoloser!

timbo

November 6th, 2011
12:31 am

Too bad UGA hasn’t played a ranked team for those 7 in a row. UGA is going to back into the SECCG thanks to SC losing Lattimore and Garcia, then get smacked in SECCG. Come back down to earth dawg fans.

HILLTOPPER

November 6th, 2011
12:31 am

In all the hoopla before the game, I guess no one decerned AL’s achilles tendon — its kicking game or lack thereof. And now we go unto LSU next week when they play the WKU Hilltoppers. You are hearing it first here: WKU in the upset of the year (but I’m not betting the farm on it)!!!!

Mr Charlie

November 6th, 2011
12:32 am

Yep, milk we did, then we were rated #1, had our big blackout game against Alabama, and have spiraled downhill to where we can barely get a snap off without somebody jumping off sides, or get a clean punt off against Vandy to seal a victory. Thanks for proving my point.

Scholarship

November 6th, 2011
12:33 am

Got to love a fan for supporting his team, but the strenght of schedule of some teams in the SEC is going to keep them from being serious in any discussions.

UGA is a fine young team, but the power and strenght of an LSU or Alabama, and the passing attack of Arkansas would make it a long day for UGA in any match up.

old fart

November 6th, 2011
12:34 am

Booooooooooooooring! Anyone watch the Oklahoma/Kansas State game?

Wake Up!!

November 6th, 2011
12:35 am

Do you think Georgia could even have had a ghost of chance. Imagine IC trying to run up the gut. Aaron Murray would get a souvenir half-marathon T-shirt for all the scrambling he’d have to do just live to see another day.
Let’s do like Florida did and fire the coach (Zook) who we know will NEVER lead us to NC. Think UF, Bama, LSU would accept mediocrity??? Why should we??
Yeah we beat Florida! Yeah! We beat Vandy! Yeah! we beat NMSU!! Yeah we beat Coastal Carolina! Beat Ole Miss too!! Whoopee!!
Please…..
Lost to Central Florida last year with a TRUE frosh, not a redshirt frosh. WE LOST TO COLORADO LAST YEAR!!! They can’t beat a directional Montana team!!!
Wake up!!

Mr Charlie

November 6th, 2011
12:35 am

Really, I just think Richt is bored. Lets face it, football is somewhat meaningless, and Richt seems to have a higher calling, or diverse interests. My bet is he steps aside, even if they when the SEC.

Benadawg

November 6th, 2011
12:35 am

Alabama is history, those hicks are crying in their pabst blue ribbon bout right now……LSU was given a gift the last time in Athens and we aint forgot about it.

Paul in NH

November 6th, 2011
12:35 am

Liverpool-Chelsea?
More like Wigan-Bolton

Scholarship

November 6th, 2011
12:36 am

From all indications Nick Saban knew he had kicking issues and offered a kicker last spring who is in the top 10 in the country and has been kicking 55 plus yard FG in high school with a tee( which translates to about a 45-49 yard in college without a tee. The same guy is averaging 45 yds a punt.

Saban had a crystal ball last spring.

Let's laugh

November 6th, 2011
12:37 am

Again, Undisputed National Championships* for Saban and Chizik (sp). That’s right 1. Saban is not a great coach. Overtime was a freaking joke.

*When Saban won it at LSU, he shared it with USC. In fact, the AP has always had a higher loft than Coaches. Saban won the Coaches Poll. How many coaches have time to watch games.

LSU defeated Oklahoma in the 2004 Sugar Bowl, securing the BCS National Championship, as the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll is contractually obligated to vote the winner of the BCS National Championship Game #1. Meanwhile, when AP #1 USC beat Michigan in the 2004 Rose Bowl, the AP voters kept USC in the top spot, and USC secured the AP title.

Scholarship

November 6th, 2011
12:37 am

old fart

November 6th, 2011
12:34 am
Booooooooooooooring! Anyone watch the Oklahoma/Kansas State game?

Now that was a game that was horrible to watch if you want to watch mistackling and wide open recievers on every play.

Mr Charlie

November 6th, 2011
12:37 am

I think to be an SEC powerhouse coach, you gotta wake up at 6 AM 365 days a year thinking about football and what you can do to get better. I just don’t think Richt does that.

KBP

November 6th, 2011
12:38 am

Milk . . . totally agree with your first post. Neither team have vertical passing games and I doubt either could come back being down 14 against a good defensive team. The Dawgs have a good chance against either of them. T

jp

November 6th, 2011
12:38 am

fire nic saban .com bama reds how you like me now .i guess roll tide and angel moron can go back and shine up their bear bryant pictures .saban sucks and bama does too .out back bowl bound and crying in the stands.

Roll tide, go on home

November 6th, 2011
12:38 am

There aren’t elephants in Alabama anyway. All them NFL playerz, but no field goal kicker.

dawg555

November 6th, 2011
12:38 am

First things first. Take care of Auburn. This game has been won by the underdog more times than I can remember