27 - 21 Final - 2OT
  for this game

Top-ranked Alabama edges LSU in OT

Nov 9, 2008 - 3:13 AM BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Ticker) -- Nick Saban walked out of "Death Valley" with another win.

This time, Saban won as the head coach of Alabama, which moved a step closer toward the BCS national title game.

John Parker Wilson scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper, lifting top-ranked Alabama to a 27-21 overtime victory over No. 15 Louisiana State on Saturday.

The Crimson Tide (10-0, 6-0 SEC West), who entered with the No. 1 ranking in the BCS standings, need to win their two remaining regular-season contests to enter the SEC championship game with an undefeated record.

"We are at about 19,000 feet," Saban said. "The mountain is at 26,000 feet and the air is changing a little bit. The air is a little rarer and you have to change how you breathe sometimes, but you still have to focus on the task at hand.

"Because of that, if you slip up and don't focus on what you are supposed to, the consequences can be devastating even more so than when you are at 7,000 feet."

Seeking its first national championship since the 1991 season, Alabama clinched the SEC West Division title thanks to its win over the Tigers, who won two conference titles and the BCS crown in their five seasons under Saban.

Saturday's showdown marked Saban's first game at Tiger Stadium since he bolted LSU after the 2004 season for the NFL's Miami Dolphins.

"I know there may be some people that have a negative attitude, but I can say I really appreciate those people that spoke to me and welcomed me back here today," said Saban, who was booed lustily as he took the field.

"We have special memories of this place, and no one will tarnish those no matter what they do. I appreciate the class of the people and administration at LSU."

Saban coached the Tigers to the national championship in 2003, the school's first since 1958, but he did not leave LSU under the best of circumstances.

Saban, who spent two seasons with the Dolphins before unceremoniously leaving for the Alabama job in January 2007, saw his Crimson Tide squander a chance to win Saturday's game in regulation when Leigh Tiffin's 29-yard field goal was blocked as time expired.

But Alabama regained momentum on the third play of overtime when Rashad Johnson intercepted LSU's Jarrett Lee in the end zone.

"I saw (Lee) roll out, and we brought a blitz to pull him up because they had been running that play a lot in the second half," Johnson said. "It was a great play call by us to blitz him on that side so he couldn't get all the way out."

The Crimson Tide capitalized on the golden opportunity, as Wilson hooked up with freshman sensation Julio Jones for a 24-yard catch-and-run on the first play of the ensuing series.

"After that interception, Coach Saban said let's take a shot, so of course we threw it to Julio Jones," Wilson said. "He made a great play. It was a back shoulder ball."

Two plays later, Wilson lowered his shoulders and plowed across the goal line, ending Alabama's five-game losing streak in this SEC rivalry.

"They played well," LSU head coach Les Miles said. "John Parker Wilson is a good quarterback. He's very mobile. He makes some nice throws and manages the game well."

Facing a 14-7 deficit late in the first half, Alabama benefited from a major momentum swing when Johnson intercepted Lee and scored on a 54-yard return to forge a tie with 4:33 remaining in the second quarter.

It was one of three interceptions in the game for Johnson, who has recorded at least one pick in each of his last three contests.

"My mindset before the game was just to focus on the things we prepared for all week and to make sure I was set up for different motions and looks they would give us," Johnson said.

Alabama took a 21-14 lead midway through the third quarter on Glen Coffee's 3-yard TD run.

But LSU (6-3, 3-3) tied the score at 21-21 when Charles Scott rumbled for a 1-yard score, capping a 14-play drive.

Alabama found itself in prime position to win the game with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter following Javier Arenas' 23-yard punt return to the LSU 41.

The Crimson Tide used a trio of short runs from Coffee and a facemask penalty to move the ball to the LSU 12 with three seconds left.

But the Tigers forced overtime when Ricky Jean-Francois blocked Tiffin's potential game winner.

Wilson completed 15-of-31 passes for 215 yards while Jones finished with seven receptions for 128 yards.

Coffee ran for 126 yards on 26 carries for the Crimson Tide, who will complete their regular-season schedule with home games against lowly Mississippi State and rival Auburn.

Lee struggled throughout the contest, finishing 13-of-34 for 181 yards, one TD and four interceptions.

"That's part of football," the redshirt freshman said. "You have to bounce back from losses like this. We are going to bounce back because we have a lot of football still to play."