So now what?
The Alabama Crimson Tide played LSU in the latest "Game of the Century" on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium and won most of the statistical battles. Yet they lost 9-6 in overtime on Drew Alleman's 25-yard field goal and must play their final three regular-season games in the shadow of the top-ranked Tigers.
"There was a lot of emotion and stuff put into this game, and we don't necessarily control our own destiny at this point," Alabama center William Vlachos said. "At the same time, we control what we do, and we still have an opportunity to have a very special season. We've just got to keep the foot on the pedal."
Alabama visits Mississippi State this week having routed the Bulldogs by a combined 93-20 the past three seasons, and then the Crimson Tide will host Georgia Southern. Their regular season will conclude Nov. 26 with the annual Iron Bowl, which is at Auburn, and then there may be some unwanted time off.
For the Tide to make this year's Southeastern Conference championship game, LSU will have to lose to Ole Miss on Nov. 19 and to Arkansas on Nov. 25. Houston Nutt's Rebels haven't won a league game all year.
An Arkansas win at LSU also could create a three-way tie for first that could result in the Tide representing the West on Dec. 3.
Oddly enough, Alabama's chances of playing for a national title are much better. The Tide slipped to just fourth in the USA Today and Harris polls and to only third in the BCS standings Sunday, and they could be knocking on LSU's door for a potential rematch should both teams win out and Oklahoma State and Stanford each lose.
Oklahoma State still has to play Oklahoma, and Stanford still has to face Oregon.
"Our team is going to get better from this," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "Every game is important. Every game we had played to this point was important, and so is every game we play in the future."
Said Tide receiver Darius Hanks: "Coach Saban told us in the locker room that it's not over and that there is definitely a chance of us seeing those guys again if things go our way."
Alabama netted 295 total yards to LSU's 239, but the Tigers made more headway as the game progressed. LSU outrushed the Tide 85-31 after halftime behind the option play of quarterback Jordan Jefferson and tailback Michael Ford.
After LSU tied the game at 6-6 in the first minute of the fourth quarter, the only play run by either team in opposing territory the rest of regulation was Marquis Maze's pass intended for tight end Michael Williams that was intercepted by Tigers safety Eric Reid.
"They made big plays when they had to," Vlachos said. "I thought we had a great game plan, and I know everybody was ready to play, but we didn't do what we had to do when it really counted."
Multiple Tide players expressed the desire to move on to Mississippi State, including Trent Richardson. The junior tailback had 89 rushing yards and 80 receiving yards against LSU, accounting for 57 percent of Alabama's productivity.
"They didn't break our will," Richardson said. "It isn't the end result we wanted, but we can't get out of whack just because we lost this ball game."
THE RATINGS ARE IN
Saturday night's game earned the second-highest rating on CBS during the regular season in the metered markets since September 1987, which is as far back as the network's records go. The SEC showdown had an average overnight rating/share of 11.9/21.
The most watched regular-season game in CBS history remains Miami's 27-10 win over Notre Dame in 1989, which had a 14.5/26.