NEW ORLEANS -- LSU senior quarterback Jarrett Lee was college football's comeback player of the year when he led the top-ranked Tigers into Alabama on Nov. 5, but he may not see any action in Monday night's rematch.
Lee entered Tuscaloosa having thrown 13 touchdowns and just one interception in guiding LSU to an 8-0 record with five wins against ranked teams. He could not continue his success against the Crimson Tide, however, completing 3 of 7 passes for 24 yards and getting intercepted twice.
Fellow senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who was arrested before the season and suspended for the first month, replaced Lee and rallied the Tigers to the 9-6 overtime win. It's been Jefferson's job since.
"I have a lot of admiration for Jarrett," LSU quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe said Friday. "It's been a roller-coaster ride for him. I don't think you could buy a ticket to an amusement park to take a better ride than he's had."
Lee, who set an NCAA record in 2008 by having seven interceptions returned for touchdowns, has thrown a total of five passes in the past four games. He did not enter victories over Western Kentucky, Ole Miss, Arkansas and Georgia until those games were well out of hand.
The 6-foot-2, 206-pounder from Brenham, Texas, has completed 104 of 167 passes (62.3 percent) this season for 1,306 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions, so was he treated fairly?
"I can't say," Lee said. "That's part of college football. I'm just trying to stay focused."
Monday will not be the final college game for Lee, who has been invited to the inaugural Casino Del Sol All-Star Game on Jan. 16 in Tucson, Ariz.
"I think he's a testament of what you should be like," Kragthorpe said. "You fight and you battle, and he's done that for us. At various times in his career, he could have packed his bags and transferred back to Texas and played at a really good I-AA school."
Tired of the points
Monday's game should give college football fans a stiff alternative from what they have witnessed recently.
Oregon beat Wisconsin 45-38 in the Rose Bowl. Oklahoma State defeated Stanford 41-38 in the Fiesta Bowl, and West Virginia shredded Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl.
"As a defensive player, those games are kind of hard to watch, because you can immediately see mistakes as they happen," LSU safety Eric Reid said. "As a fan, though, it's exciting to see those big plays. I guess I'm kind of straddling the fence, because I know it gets boring watching a 9-6 game."
Said Tigers tailback Michael Ford: "Some guys like games like that, but I think to keep seeing touchdown after touchdown takes a little bit of the fun away."
The Orange Bowl was the highest-scoring BCS bowl since the BCS era began in 1998, with the Rose third and the Fiesta fifth.
Sticking and studying
Alabama left tackle Barrett Jones has so much going for him these days in Tuscaloosa, he's decided to opt for more.
The redshirt junior recently announced that he is returning for his senior season, even though he has graduated in accounting with a 4.0 grade point average. The 6-5, 311-pounder won this season's Outland Trophy, awarded annually to college football's top interior lineman, and the Jacobs Trophy, which goes to the top offensive lineman in the SEC.
In 587 snaps this season, he has missed his assignment just nine times.
"It was a very hard decision," Jones said. "I had a lot of different people telling me different things, and I just listened to the people who I knew cared about me and loved me. We weighed the pros and cons and made the best decision for our family."
By this time next year, Jones will have earned a master's in accounting.
LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery believes Alabama's Trent Richardson is the best tailback in college or pro football, calling him "the greatest in the world." When asked to elaborate, Montgomery said Richardson doesn't slow down, always looks for an opening and always keeps his feet.
"The moves he had in that Ole Miss game were unbelievable," Montgomery said. "How does somebody think like that in that split-second of time? How does he know to step in, step back out and then go forward? He's an amazing, well-minded, well-rounded running back."
Montgomery, a redshirt sophomore who leads the Tigers with nine sacks, said he will return to LSU next season.