INSTANT ANALYSIS: Alabama continues winning ways against LSU
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A new ranking yielded the same results. Four days after being named the No. 2 team in the College Football Playoff rankings, Alabama continued its undefeated start to the season, beating No. 19 LSU, 24-10.
The win extends Alabama’s streak to seven straight victories over LSU, dating back to the Crimson Tide’s 21-0 victory over the Tigers in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game. Saturday, Alabama (9-0, 6-0 in the SEC) was outgained 306-299 by LSU (6-3, 3-2) but was able to make key plays when things mattered most to avoid the upset.
The victory brings Alabama one step closer to claiming its fourth straight SEC West title. The Crimson Tide can clinch the division next week with a win over Mississippi State paired with a loss from Auburn to Georgia.
Here are some notes from Saturday’s game:
Hurts handles LSU again
The question surrounding Alabama’s offense this season has been whether or not the Crimson Tide could rely on its passing game to step up if an opponent was able to stop the run. Saturday, starting quarterback Jalen Hurts gave Alabama reason to believe it will be just fine in the future.
Despite being chased around all night by a potent LSU defensive line, Hurts put together a solid night, completing 11 of 24 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. The sophomore also demonstrated an ability to connect on mid-range passes, as seven of his completions traveled 10 or more yards through the air.
Hurts started the game by completing his first four passes for 80 yards including a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Irv Smith Jr. to put Alabama up 7-0 with 6:08 left in the first quarter.
Heading into the game, LSU ranked No. 13 in the nation, allowing just 173.5 yards per game through the air.
Hurts performance marks the second straight year he’s gotten the best of LSU’s defense. During last season’s 10-0 victory over LSU, he completed just 10 of 19 passes for 107 yards and an interception but gassed the Tigers with legs, rushing for 114 yards including the game’s only touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“That is something he brings to the table,” SEC Nation analyst Tim Tebow said Friday. “In my time of watching him in college football, he hasn’t flinched in the moment. That’s a special trait. It’s a special trait that he usually plays his best in the biggest games.”
Defense does enough
It wasn’t quite the same dominance of recent years, but Alabama’s defense was once again able to frustrate LSU’s offense. After holding LSU to less than 200 yards in its previous two meetings, Alabama gave up 306 yards Saturday. That included an uncharacteristic 151 yards on the ground. Alabama came into the game with the nation’s top rush defense, allowing opponents just 66.38 yards per game on the ground.
Despite the less-than-stellar performance, the Crimson Tide was able to keep the Tigers out of the end zone for much of the game. After a defensive stand held LSU to a field goal midway through the second quarter, the Tigers were finally able to score a touchdown in the third quarter. After breaking a 54-yard run to the Alabama 2-yard line, LSU back Darrel Williams was able to punch it in two plays later to cut Alabama’s lead to 21-10 with 1:48 remaining in the third quarter. The score was the Tigers first in six consecutive quarters against the Crimson Tide following last year’s 10-0 shutout.
Alabama then stopped LSU on its next three possessions, including a sack from true freshman Dylan Moses, a Baton Rouge native, on fourth-and-16 to give Alabama the ball at the LSU 17-yard line with 2:17 to play.
Linebacker Rashaan Evans led Alabama with 10 tackles and also recorded a sack, while Raekwon Davis had nine tackles and a sack. Ronnie Harrison had six tackles to go with half a sack and an interception.
While Alabama allowed Williams to rush for 83 yards on seven carries, it contained fellow LSU back Derrius Guice to 71 yards on 19 carries. The Crimson Tide was also able to shut down the Tigers through the air, holding LSU quarterback Danny Etling to 12 of 26 passing for 137 yards and an interception.
JK Scott has big day booming punts
Coming in for a season-high eight punts, Alabama punter JK Scott helped the Crimson Tide win field position all night long. The senior averaged 51.6 yards per punt against LSU, his highest average since last year’s game against the Tigers when he also averaged 51.6 yards on five punts. Scotts long Saturday night came on a booming 58-yard punt in the fourth quarter, also a season best.
Tide hit with several injuries on defense
Alabama’s defense took a bit of a hit as it suffered injuries to four key players. Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and linebackers Shaun Dion Hamilton, Jamey Mosley and Mack Wilson were all forced to leave the game, leaving an already bruised Alabama defense even thinner.
Fitzpatrick left the game on multiple occasions, picking up his first knock after he broke up a would-be touchdown on LSU’s first possession of the game. He then returned on LSU’s next possession but had to leave again a few plays later after he appeared to suffer a head injury. Fitzpatrick returned to action in the second quarter and even recorded half a sack but was limited the remainder of the game. He was replaced by Hootie Jones out of the base package, while Tony Brown replaced Fitzpatrick at Star. True freshman Daniel Wright replaced Fitzpatrick as the sixth defensive back in the dime package.
Wilson limped off the field late in the second quarter and had to be carted off to the locker room with 2:52 remaining in the half. Mosley was the next to go down as he appeared to injure his ankle in the third quarter.
Shaun Dion Hamilton also picked up what looked like a serious injury as he appeared to injure his right knee in the third quarter. Hamilton suffered a season-ending ACL in his right knee during last year’s SEC Championship Game.