Alabama escaped Death Valley with its College Football Playoff skin still intact, holding off LSU for a 20-13 overtime win Saturday. But no Crimson Tide player feels more relieved than junior running back T.J. Yeldon.
Yeldon, the hero of Alabama's 2012 win at LSU, was nearly the goat Saturday, fumbling inside the Alabama 10-yard line with less than two minutes left to play. LSU kicked a field goal to go ahead 13-10 with 50 seconds remaining, but Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims, operating with no timeouts, led a nine-play, 55-yard drive that culminated a game-tying field goal with three seconds remaining. In overtime, Sims found DeAndrew White for a touchdown pass and the Alabama defense held LSU to four incompletions to end the game.
"Blake did a great job of managing the clock, as well as making some really good throws even though we had a drop," Nick Saban told CBS Sports following the game.
Statistically, it wasn't Sims' best day. He completed just 20 of 45 passes for 209 yards as the Crimson Tide offense struggled mightily, punting nine times. But when it mattered most, Sims' poise helped him overcome one of the most hostile crowds in college football. The fifth-year senior completed four of seven passes on the final drive of regulation, including a 22-yard strike to Christion Jones to put UA in field goal range, and a 16-yarder to White with just 12 seconds left to put the kick into chip-shot range for kicker Adam Griffith.
In overtime, UA offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin opened with a trick play, splitting offensive tackle Cam Robinson into a slot receiver position, then throwing over the middle to 300-pound tackle Brandon Greene for a first down. The touchdown pass to White followed soon after to put Alabama ahead, 20-13.
The victory keeps Alabama in the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth, with No. 1-ranked Mississippi State set to visit the Crimson Tide next weekend.