Since 2007, Alabama and LSU have tussled in some of college football's most memorable encounters. There've been some remarkable moments over the years, whether it was John Parker Wilson's fumble, Julio Jones' sprint down the sideline, Eric Reid's incredible interception, or T.J. Yeldon's spectacular screen scamper.
This year, it looked like Yeldon was going to be on the other side of history. Late in the 4th quarter, a fumble near the Tide 10-yard line gave way to the Tigers pouncing on the pigskin. As excruciating as it was for Yeldon to cough up the football, it was just as painful to watch as his ankle twisted, giving way to the grip on the ball being lost.
LSU promptly went up 13-10 with under one minute to play, and although they left points on the board, the Crimson Tide looked like their days of being near the top of the rankings -- as well as the discussion for a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff -- were numbered.
Unfortunately, nobody told that to Alabama quarterback Blake Sims.
The Gainesville, Georgia native chiefed a remarkable one-minute drill down the field. Staring death, and Death Valley in the face, Sims stood tall and rifled pass after pass to soundly stomp down the field. And with seconds waning in the ballgame, Sims found receiver DeAndrew White for a gain of 16 yards to set up a game-tying field goal.
And Adam Griffith, much maligned after a deplorable doink earlier in the ballgame, made good on his next attempt, booting the Crimson Tide into overtime.
It didn't take long for Sims to continue to break the hearts of a sellout crowd of 102,321. On the very first play of the overtime period, the senior quarterback found sophomore tight end Brandon Greene for a gain of 24. And five plays later, Sims connected with White again on a six-yard fade in the end zone to put the Tide ahead for good, giving them a 20-13 victory in Death Valley, and keeping their College Football Playoff chances alive.
Sims and the Crimson Tide didn't set the world on fire offensively on Saturday night. Though they bested their heated rivals, Alabama was stuck in neutral for most of the second half. Only six plays belonged to the Crimson Tide in the 3rd quarter, and 20 total throughout the final 30 minutes before the game-tying drive commenced. LSU's defense was stout and stingy, but Sims remained cool, calm and collected, despite going just 20-for-45 on the night through the air.
Complementing Sims on Saturday night was the prodigious play from Amari Cooper. A bona fide wide receiver prospect, who will no doubt wow most on Sundays very soon, Cooper caught eight passes and totaled up 83 yards. This included a touchdown late in the 2nd quarter, in which he steamrolled into the end zone, leaving LSU defenders in his wake.
Similar to the much-accomplished A.J. McCarron's in 2012, when the Crimson Tide collectively ripped the hearts out of LSU fans, neither McCarron nor Sims might've had their best nights, as they were both certainly capable of much better. But, in the waning moments, Alabama got what they needed from them both.
In this incredible rivalry, another chapter was written on Saturday night. And much like the last few years, it's the Crimson Tide who came out on top.