Flashing Back to the 2019 Instant Classic at Bryant-Denny
On Nov. 9, 2019, Bama (8-0) and LSU (8-0) went head-to-head for a 2 p.m. showdown in Tuscaloosa. The Tide had won their last 31 games at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Throughout the week, ESPN and SEC Network had talked nonstop about this game. The reason why: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
World-renowned ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith fired up Tuscaloosa with a speech to the team on his show First Take earlier in the week.
Up until this week, Joe Burrow was the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, with Tua Tagovailoa as a far second. Burrow was pulling off one of the best seasons of all time. However, both teams had way more talent at several positions.
ESPN’s TV show College Gameday game to T-town on the quad. One of their segments was saying who’s better at what position. For example, LSU had receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall. Alabama had receivers Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith.
All of them, except Marshall, were first-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 NFL Drafts! Burrow and Tua were top five picks in the 2020 draft. Running backs Najee Harris and Clyde Edwards-Helaire were also first-round picks in their respective drafts.
Both teams also had several offensive linemen and defensive players drafted in 2020 and 2021. A total of 40 players between the two squads (Bama 19, LSU 21) were drafted between those years, which is unheard of. All of those guys either played in this game or were on the sideline for it.
When people in Tuscaloosa woke up at 5 a.m. to go to the quad for the big show, they could just feel that it was going to be the game of the century that day.
The quad already had a 200-yard long line of people by 6 a.m…three hours before Lee Corso and the crew took the stage.
Even with all the anti-Burrow signs and tens of thousands of people flooded on the quad, Corso put on the Tiger mascot head.
Two hours before the game even started the stadium was beginning to reach capacity. It was clear skies, 60 degrees and perfect weather for a battle for the ages.
Before the game, security was taken to another level as the president of the United States was at this game.
When the game kicked off Tua led the Tide down the field. However, he fumbled the ball away near the LSU endzone, as the Tigers recovered.
When Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the other few first-round picks stormed onto the field, they proved why they were the best team in the country, as Ja’Marr Chase had a 33-yard touchdown catch from Burrow.
Alabama was once down 16-13, in part by a Jaylen Waddle punt return touchdown and a DeVonta Smith longball touchdown. However, that didn’t matter.
Burrow had three passing touchdowns in the first half. Edwards-Helaire had a rushing and receiving touchdown in the half as well.
By halftime, LSU was up by a significant 33-13 margin… a score that nobody expected.
However, something happened in the Tide’s locker room. When both teams marched back onto the field, the sun had set and the new red LED lights were illuminating across 101,000 people. The fans did not give up on their pride and joy as every seat was still filled.
Alabama’s offense came out firing without mistakes, as Najee Harris had two total touchdowns to start the second half and make it a 33-27 game.
The LSU superstar running back would get his third touchdown of the night to make it 39-27 with 10 minutes left in regulation.
The Crimson Tide continued the comeback with a Jerry Jeudy touchdown catch on a fourth-down conversion to make it 39-34.
At this point, the stadium was shaking with spirit, finally making it feel as though it was truly the game of the century.
Burrow needed a touchdown to give the Tigers a very likely win, and to lock himself as the Heisman Trophy recipient.
On third down and two yards to go, Burrow ran the ball for 18 yards with 2:13 left in regulation to potentially ice the game. You could hear a pin drop in a crowd of six figures. After that play, CBS commentator Brad Nessler “that might be the Heisman moment right there”.
On the very next play, Edwards-Helaire had his fourth touchdown of the night to put LSU up by two possessions.
Tua hit Smith on the first play of the drive for an 85-yard touchdown to make it 46-41. However, they failed the attempt on the onside kick as LSU recovered.
With a few kneel-downs, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron had Gatorade bath poured on his head as if he had won the Super Bowl. This was the first time LSU had beaten Alabama in eight years.
This game was simply an instant classic on CBS in Tuscaloosa.
Flash forward two years, Alabama looks to avenge the loss on Saturday night back at Bryant-Denny.
Since that game in 2019, Alabama won the 2020 National Championship in an undefeated fashion, dismantling LSU in the process. LSU had a 5-5 record last season and Ed Orgeron will be leaving the team after this season due to issues within the team.