LSU and Alabama were not at their best Saturday night, one week after the Tigers toppled the Crimson Tide 9-6 in overtime at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Not that it mattered in the BCS standings.
The Tigers maintained the top spot following a 42-9 win over Western Kentucky that was far from overwhelming. The two teams were tied 7-7 after the first quarter, and the Hilltoppers were still within 21-9 late in the third quarter.
"I don't think this was in any way an impassioned effort from our guys," LSU coach Les Miles said.
Style points may not be necessary again this week when the Tigers, who are 10-0 for the first time since 1958, visit Ole Miss. The Rebels have won two of three against LSU under outgoing coach Houston Nutt, but they are 2-8 this season following Saturday's 27-7 loss to Louisiana Tech.
Alabama, meanwhile, improved to 9-1 with a 24-7 win at Mississippi State and remained third in the BCS standings behind LSU and Oklahoma State. The Crimson Tide benefited from losses by the previously undefeated tandem of Stanford and Boise State, and ESPN analyst Brad Edwards said Sunday night that Alabama controls its destiny among the one-loss teams.
The Tide missed two early field-goal attempts in Starkville, which kept the game scoreless through the first 20 minutes, and led just 10-0 entering the fourth quarter. Alabama was without tackle Barrett Jones, who sprained his ankle against LSU.
"We didn't play a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "We made too many mistakes, but we did play extremely well defensively."
Alabama, which held Mississippi State to 131 total yards, faces another 9-1 team this week when Georgia Southern visits.
The most interesting aspect to the weekend after LSU-Alabama was how Miles handled his quarterbacks. Jordan Jefferson, who was arrested in August and suspended throughout September, made his first start of the season and played every series until 12 minutes remained in the game.
LSU led 35-9 when Jarrett Lee, who had sizzled all year before getting intercepted twice at Alabama, entered and led the Tigers to their final touchdown.
"It was a one-game decision," Miles said.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...