BATON ROUGE, La. — As Les Miles' latest stab at fourth-down trickery was about to unfold Saturday, the LSU coach bent down, snatched up some blades of grass — and ate them.
"I have a little tradition that humbles me as a man, that lets me know that I'm a part of the field and part of the game," Miles said as a smile widened. "You should have seen some games before this. I can tell you one thing: The grass in Tiger Stadium tastes best."
What he saw next was sweeter for him than anything in the nearby sugarcane fields. DeAngelo Peterson went 23 yards with a reverse on fourth and 1 to set up Stevan Ridley's go-ahead 1-yard plunge in the fourth quarter, and No. 12 LSU held on to upset the fifth-ranked Crimson Tide, 24-21.
Miles added to his list of audacious fourth-down conversions — the most recent a fake field goal to set up a winning TD at Florida.
And the loss knocked Alabama out of contention for a second straight national championship. Now the Crimson Tide needs LSU to lose twice and Georgia to beat Auburn just to have a shot to repeat as SEC West champs.
"How we respond to this will show us what kind of character we have and what kind of pride we have," Tide coach Nick Saban said after losing to his former school.
LSU twice rallied from second-half deficits, the first time on a 75-yard TD from Jordan Jefferson to Rueben Randle, who also hauled in a 47-yarder by Jarrett Lee to convert a big third down in the final minutes.
"This is the biggest win since I have been here at LSU," senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard said. "I have played in a national championship and that's fine and good, but we had everybody bearing down on us and our head coach."