NEW ORLEANS — Round 2 of Alabama-LSU was more of the same — except all the field goals were being made by the Crimson Tide.
Jeremy Shelley kicked field goals of 23, 34 and 41 yards and the second-ranked Crimson Tide led the top-ranked Tigers 9-0 at halftime of the BCS championship game Monday night.
The Southeastern Conference rivals met on Nov. 5 in what was dubbed the Game of the Century, and the Tigers won a touchdown-less, defensive standoff, 9-6 in overtime.
In a bowl season filled with high-scoring games, the top two defenses in the nation set the tone at the BCS title game. And much like the first meeting, special teams were pivotal.
The Tide, which was 2 for 6 on field-goal tries in the first game against LSU, faked a 49-yard attempt early in the second quarter and went with a shovel pass to backup tight end Chris Underwood that gained 4 yards. He reached the first-down marker by the nose of the football.
The drive didn't last much longer and Shelley's 42-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
Shelley came back to make one from 34 yards with 4:24 left in the half, and from 41 yards as time expired in the first half.
Alabama Heisman Trophy finalist Trent Richardson ran for 52 yards on 11 carries, and A.J. McCarron passed for 139 yards as the Tide didn't have much problem moving the ball — just getting it into the end zone.
LSU offense was shut down completely. The Tigers managed one first down and 43 yards in the half. The Tide, led by linebackers Courtney Upshaw and C.J. Mosley, gave Jordan Jefferson no space to run the option and only short gains when he passes.
It was Alabama's special teams that struck first in the first BCS title game to match teams from the same conference.
Punt returner Marquis Maze found a lane and broke into the open around midfield, though he pulled up instead of trying to get around punter Brad Wing and grabbed his left leg while running out of bounds at the LSU 26 after a 49-yard run-back.
Maze, the Tide's leading receiver, had to be helped over to the Alabama sideline, but he had put his team in scoring position. Maze didn't play again in the half.
McCarron completed a 15-yard pass to Darius Hanks to set up first-and-goal, but LSU's defense, ranked second in the nation behind only Alabama, stiffened.
Shelley, who made one field goal and had another blocked in the first meeting between the SEC rivals, was perfect on a 23-yarder with 5:00 left in the first quarter.
It didn't sound like an LSU home game at the Superdome, about 80 miles from its Baton Rouge campus. The dome was deafening on almost every play with a crowd that was much closer to 50-50 than partisan.
The racket coming from the crimson-clad Alabama fans might have even contributed to a mishandled snap by Jefferson on the first LSU series.2 comments on this story
More than a few people questioned whether Oklahoma State should have been given Alabama's spot in the BCS championship game, but the Tide won over the voters and earned a rematch with the Tigers.
No matter who wins, it'll be the SEC's sixth straight BCS championship.
Alabama is back in the title game under coach Nick Saban for the second time in three seasons, while LSU is trying to make it 3 for 3 in BCS championship games. The Tigers' two previous titles, one under Saban in 2003, the other under Miles in '07, were won in the Superdome.