NEW ORLEANS - As required, Alabama's players whooped it up amid the confetti and fireworks, yet there was something muted about this championship celebration.
Turns out, these guys knew the ending to the sequel before they even got to the Big Easy.
For two months, the Crimson Tide stewed over its first meeting with top-ranked LSU. By the time the team touched down in New Orleans, there was little doubt in anyone's mind about the outcome. Not just win, but dominate.
Boy, did they ever.
With a smothering display of old-school football, No. 2 Alabama blew out the Tigers 21-0 in the BCS championship game Monday night, celebrated a bit and headed back to Tuscaloosa with its second national title in three years.
The Crimson Tide also claimed the top spot in the final Associated Press poll for the eighth time, tying Notre Dame for the most of any team in college football. Coach Nick Saban's team was an overwhelming choice with 55 of 60 first-place votes.
"We knew what we were capable of," offensive lineman Barrett Jones said. "I guess that's kind of arrogant, but it's the way we felt. We felt like we were capable of dominating, and we did that."
Alabama wins BCS championship
Credit one of the greatest defenses in college football history, a bunch of NFL-ready players such as Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower who made sure LSU (13-1) never had a chance.
When Jordan Jefferson dropped back to pass, he was swept under by a tide of crimson. When the LSU quarterback took off running, he must've felt like Alabama had a few extra players on the field. It sure seemed that way.
"It feels like a nightmare," Jefferson said. "We just didn't get it done on offense. Some defenses have your number, and Alabama had our number."
LSU beat the Crimson Tide (12-1) in overtime on Nov. 5, a so-called Game of the Century that was roundly criticized as a dud because neither team scored a touchdown.
The Rematch of the Century was next, after Alabama worked its way back up to second in the rankings to claim a spot in the BCS title game. Turns out, it was even less of a classic than the first meeting, much closer to "Speed 2" than the "Godfather II."
But the Alabama defense was a thing of beauty, putting its own spin on this postseason of high-scoring shootouts.
LSU didn't cross midfield until there were less than 8 minutes remaining in the game. The Tigers finished with just 92 yards and five first downs, on the wrong end of the first shutout in the BCS' 14-year history.
"This defense is built on stopping them, and that's what we did," said Upshaw, the game's defensive MVP. "We wanted to come out and show the world we beat ourselves the first game. We wanted to come out and dominate from start to finish, and that's what we did."
The Crimson Tide, piling up 384 yards and 21 first downs, spent much of the night in LSU's end of the field, setting up Jeremy Shelley to attempt a bowl-record seven field goals. He made five of them, matching a bowl record. Then, as if responding to all the critics who complained that an offensive powerhouse such as Oklahoma State or Stanford should've gotten a shot in the title game, Alabama finally made a long-overdue trip to the end zone.
With 4:36 remaining, Heisman finalist Trent Richardson broke off a 34-yard touchdown run.
It was the lone TD that either of the Southeastern Conference powerhouses managed over two games, plus that overtime period back in November.
"It felt so good to get that touchdown against LSU," lineman D.J. Fluker said. "That's all we talked about. We said we were going to get (Richardson) a touchdown, and we did it."
On LSU's one and only trip into Alabama territory, the Tigers quickly went back, back, back — the last gasp ending appropriately with the beleaguered Jefferson getting the ball jarred from his hand before he could even get off a fourth-and-forever pass.
"We didn't do a lot different," Saban said. "We did some things on offense formationally. Our offensive team did a great job. Defensively, we just played well, played the box. Our special teams did a great job."
The coach has now won a pair of BCS titles at Alabama, plus another at LSU in 2003. He's the first coach to win three BCS titles, denying LSU's Les Miles his second championship. The Tigers will have to settle for the SEC title, but that's not likely to ease the sting of this ugly performance.
"I told my team that it should hurt," Miles said. "We finished second. It's supposed to hurt."
LSU simply couldn't do anything — running or passing. Kenny Hilliard led the Tigers with 16 yards rushing, while Jefferson was 11 of 17 passing for 53 yards, usually hurrying away passes before he was sent tumbling to the Superdome turf. He was sacked four times and threw a mystifying interception when he attempted to flip away a desperation pass, only to have it picked off because his intended receiver had already turned upfield looking to block.
CFT: Johnny Manziel nearly transferred out of Texas A&M before the 2012 season after being suspended, according to reports, but he stayed after his successful appeal.
About 325 former Penn State players, among them Kerry Collins and Paul Posluszny, have signed a statement supporting the lawsuit filed by the family of former coach Joe Paterno.
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BCS title game
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