Stats, as the old coaching mantra goes, are for second place. And that's the case from Saturday's instant classic matchup between top-ranked Alabama and the now-7th ranked LSU Tigers.
The saying holds water; however, more often than not, when a team wins the key statistical categories in which the Tigers trumped the Tide, that team also wins the scoreboard battle. First downs? LSU on top, 22-18. Time of possession? Nearly a 2:1 ratio in which the Tiger offense had the ball compared to the A.J. McCarron led Alabama team. Third down conversions? LSU held the Tide to one successful third down attempt in nine tries, while the Tiger offense had an astounding 20 3rd downs and moved the chains ten times.
If LSU had tacked on one additional first down, on their next-to-last drive of the game, the Tigers would have won the game.
If LSU holds the ball for just 1:34 more seconds at the end of the game, the Tigers would have won the game.
If LSU had converted that next to last 3rd down, with 2:28 to play in the game, the Tigers would have won the game.
All three instances occurred in a portion of the game in which LSU had dominated play---but the moral of Saturday night's dramatic story---it's not how the movie fleshes out that ticket-buyers will remember. What matters most is how the show climaxes. And Alabama, with dramatic touchdown drives to close out the first and second half of the game, knows how to finish.