Call it boring, call it tedious, call it downright dull. Call it whatever you would like. The Alabama Crimson Tide, like the honey badger, don't care. Just as long as you call them national champions.
In Monday night's BCS championship game, Alabama and LSU once again turned in a game that was heavy on defense and field goals and light on offensive fireworks. There were definitely some similarities to the 9-6 overtime slog-fest the teams displayed in their regular-season meeting back in November. For a football-crazed nation that has become accustomed to high-scoring shootouts, this was not must-see TV.
The kicks added up, and after Trent Richardson scored a late touchdown (yes, an actual touchdown), Alabama had a 21-0 victory that should quiet all the critics who said the Crimson Tide did not even belong in the championship game.
And if there are still a few doubters left out there, well, the Alabama players don't really care.
"Everybody should be a believer now," Alabama junior cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. "It was a dominating night. I felt like we did a great job of executing in all phases of the game. All phases."
No matter what the Tigers tried to do on offense, Alabama seemed to be ready for it. Wherever the football went, there were usually at least two or three Tide defenders swarming around it. LSU had no room to breathe, and eventually nowhere to turn for answers.
"It was as painful as anything we've been through," LSU coach Les Miles said afterward.
Miles had no tricks under his mad hat on this night. The Tigers managed a grand total of five first downs. They needed 52 minutes of the game before they could even cross midfield. By midway through the third quarter, it was painfully obvious that there would be no LSU comeback. By the fourth quarter, the Tigers had practically thrown up the white flag.
"We wanted to come out as strong as we could and hit them in the mouth from the get-go, and I think we did that," Alabama junior defensive end Jesse Williams said. "Towards the end I could definitely tell that they really didn't want to play against us any longer."
The Tigers looked so inept offensively that the first question Miles received in the postgame news conference turned into a mini-rant that included the media member saying, "Five first downs? Come on, that's ridiculous." As was the case during the game, Miles didn't have much of an answer to this onslaught.
That was not the case for McCarron. Alabama's sophomore quarterback repeatedly eluded the LSU rush and fired near-perfect passes that dissected the Tigers' vaunted secondary. He set the tone early by lofting a first-quarter pass deftly over ballyhooed LSU cornerback Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu and hitting Kevin Norwood for a 26-yard gain. Alabama did not score on that possession, but it was obvious that McCarron was poised to have a big game.
"You want to talk about a guy who had his mind right and was not worried one bit about anything," Alabama senior center William Vlachos said of McCarron. "He was loose and vocal the whole way through. During warmups he was bobbing his head to the music. He was ready for this moment.
"He was our leader tonight. Pregame, halftime, during the game. I couldn't be prouder of him. Given the circumstances, I don't think he could have played any better. I can't get over what he showed tonight."
Actually, it looked like everybody wearing an Alabama jersey felt they had something to prove in Monday's game. Ever since the Tide lost to LSU in November, there had been a feeling among many observers that Alabama had its chance and now somebody else (most notably Oklahoma State) deserved a shot at the national championship.
The Tigers, with their perfect record and bevy of blowouts, certainly were worthy of the title game. But the Tide was the team that seemingly nobody outside of the state of Alabama wanted to see again. Some people even said that if Alabama won in a close game, LSU might still win the Associated Press vote for the championship.
Such talk flittered away Monday night like so much crimson-colored victory confetti. This was a dominating victory by a championship team. Don't blame the Tide if it wasn't necessarily the most exciting form of football. It was effective, and that is all that matters.
"We wanted to show to everybody that we deserved to be here," Alabama junior linebacker Nico Johnson said. "We felt like nobody thought we should be here. This shows that we are the better team."
As Vlachos said, "When you beat a team like LSU 21-0, you've proven to people that you deserve it."
Despite everything that the Tigers accomplished this season, the fact remains they played eight quarters against Alabama without ever crossing the goal line. That's 120 minutes of football plus an untimed overtime session, with zero touchdowns.
Kirkpatrick was asked whether he could have imagined shutting down the No. 1 team in the country like that.
"They're the No. 2 team in the country," Kirkpatrick quickly replied with the sly, confident smile of a national champion. "We're No. 1."