TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Two years ago, after a loss in Tuscaloosa, Ed Orgeron defiantly promised: “We coming!” Saturday, his LSU Tigers arrived, snapping an eight-game losing streak to rival Alabama, 46-34. LSU scored two touchdowns in the final 26 seconds of the first half, then held off the Crimson Tide’s comeback.
Senior quarterback Joe Burrow powered the Tigers to those late first-half scores, and then engineered two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to win it.
In the end, LSU was better than Alabama. Just maybe, it’s the nation’s best team, period. The Tigers have the inside track to the SEC West division crown and from there to the College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, saw their Playoff hopes take a huge hit.
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Here are three takeaways from LSU’s win:
– LSU took a giant step toward erasing Alabama’s stranglehold on the SEC. The Tigers will likely move into the No. 1 spot in every poll, and after what unfolded at Bryant-Denny Stadium who would argue?
Joe Burrow was superb in cementing his status as the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. In the decisive first half, he was 18 of 20 for 252 yards and three touchdowns. In those two fourth quarter drives to seal victory, he was terrific. His 18-yard run on third-and-short set up the clinching touchdown.
If there were questions about the Tigers in racing to an 8-0 start, including wins at Texas and against Florida and Auburn, they didn’t concern the offense. But Alabama’s first-half touchdowns came on a punt return and a 64-yard touchdown pass off a cool pre-snap deke by Tua Tagovailoa that prompted LSU’s defenders to relax. Otherwise, LSU’s defense held Alabama to 31 rushing yards in the first half, and more than held its own against Tagovailoa and all of Alabama’s fabulous wide receivers. In the second half, Alabama found success with Najee Harris’ running, and Tagovailoa got it going, too – but it was rarely easy for the Tide, and it wasn’t enough.
– Alabama has been a staple in the College Football Playoff – in the bracket all five years of its existence. But the Crimson Tide, which saw a 31-game home winning streak snapped, might find its five-year streak soon snapped, as well.
There are still games to be played, we know. But brace yourselves, college football. The Crimson Tide are highly unlikely to reach the SEC championship game – LSU would have to lose twice against a closing stretch of Ole Miss, Arkansas and Texas A&M. And even at 11-1, Alabama’s resume would include at best two Top 25 wins (Auburn and A&M, if the Aggies slip back into the Top 25).
If other conferences produce champions with one (or fewer) losses, it’s difficult to see Alabama getting into the four-team bracket.
– Alabama had rolled to an 8-0 record against a very soft schedule. It’s worth noting the last time we saw Alabama in a big game, something similar happened. That would be last January in the College Football Playoff national championship game, when Clemson rolled the Crimson Tide 44-16.
Both losses saw Alabama’s defense shredded by an opposing quarterback: Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence threw for 347 yards and three scores. Burrow’s performance, which also included timely running as well as the ability to extend plays, was similarly devastating.