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• Jefferson was suspended for four games because of his involvement in a brawl outside a Baton Rouge bar in August. Last Friday the senior, who has more wins as a starter (23) than any current quarterback in the SEC, took LSU's opening offensive snap for only the third time this season. After a shaky beginning (in the first quarter he fumbled and recovered the ball, prompting boos from the crowd), Jefferson stitched together his best game of the season, completing 18 of 29 passes for 208 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Midway through the fourth quarter the 6'5", 224-pound Jefferson displayed his 4.5 speed in the 40 when, on a playbook-perfect zone-read option, he sprinted 48 yards into the end zone.
"What I liked about Jordan's performance is that it took him a while to settle into a rhythm, but he kept focusing," said LSU coach Les Miles. "The players have the feeling that he'll find a way to get the job done."
Late last Friday afternoon Jefferson was one of the few players lingering on the Tiger Stadium field, savoring his final moments as a player in Death Valley. "We've overcome so much this year," he said, his uniform striped with grass stains. "We want to win an SEC championship, a national championship and to go down as one of the best teams to play here ever." Jefferson raised his right index finger and then disappeared into the north end zone tunnel that leads to the locker room, triggering a full-throated cheer from thousands of fans.
Twenty-five hours later and 420 miles to the northeast of Baton Rouge, Nick Saban was caught up in the moment. After the final whistle blew on The Plains, Saban jogged toward the Tide locker room. As he neared the tunnel, thousands of 'Bama backers, looking ahead to Jan. 9, chanted, "L-S-U!" Saban, like Jefferson a day earlier, thrust his right index finger into the air—a rare act of showmanship for one of the most carefully orchestrated coaches in the land. But it revealed the strength of Saban's belief that Alabama belongs in the title game. "This team has lost only one game, in overtime, to a very good team that is Number 1 right now," Saban said. "[We] have played some really dominant football on both sides of the ball."
Even though LSU still must face Georgia—and even though Miles adamantly told his team that its sole focus must be on the SEC title game—a few Tigers players in the locker room last Friday couldn't help but gaze into the future and a possible rematch with Alabama. "With everything this team's been through, to top it off and play Alabama again would be perfect," said guard Will Blackwell. "The second time's a charm."
The final regular-season BCS standings won't be released until Dec. 4. But this is already certain: If LSU and Alabama don't occupy the top two spots in that poll, it should be regarded as the biggest upset of this season.