Alabama' Julio Jones (8) races to the end zone on a 73-yard touchdown reception against LSU at Bryant Denny Stadium. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
As I watched Alabama turn back LSU 24-15 Saturday to clinch the Southeastern Conference West Division title, I thought about something legendary Crimson Tide coach Paul "Bear" Bryant used to say about being lucky when it comes to winning championships.
Bryant mentioned things such as scheduling luck and injury luck and just plain lucky bounces on the football field.
I'm not saying No. 3 Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) was lucky to beat No. 9 LSU (7-2, 4-2) -- the better team won -- but the Tide was fortunate on Julio Jones' 73-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter that put them ahead to stay, 21-15. LSU star cornerback Patrick Peterson, who had successfully covered Jones most of the game, was the on the sideline because of leg cramps and his replacement couldn't make a play when Jones caught a quick screen from quarterback Greg McElroy and sprinted down the left sideline to score.
And Alabama was fortunate when two officials ruled an apparent interception by Peterson near the sideline late in the fourth quarter an incomplete pass. It appeared Peterson had come down with a foot inbounds, but the replay was inconclusive, so the incomplete call stood and Alabama went on to drive for a clinching field goal.
And Alabama was fortunate that LSU played most of the second half without starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and running back Chris Scott, who left the hard-hitting game with ankle and shoulder injuries, respectively. Both had played well before getting hurt.
And Alabama was fortunate that their offensive coaches remembered at halftime they had a Heisman Trophy candidate in the backfield in sophomore running back Mark Ingram. After getting only a handful of carries in the first half, Ingram ran for 106 yards in the second half to finish with 144 yards on 22 attempts.
If Alabama goes on to beat Florida in the SEC Championship Game and wins the BCS Championship Game to earn the national title, then you might agree that the Tide is not only good, but fortunate.