Alabama vs. LSU postgame — 4 takeaways
Saturday, No. 2 LSU handed the 3rd-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide its first loss of the season.
Here are four quick takeaways:
Two SEC teams showed up to Bryant-Denny, and a Big 12 game broke out. Defense was optional today. The teams combined for a total of 46 points – at the half. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa combined for 424 passing yards – at the half. When the smoke finally cleared, these teams put 87 points on the scoreboard and combined for 1,000 yards of offense. Mike Gundy and Lincoln Riley would have been proud.
The middle of the field was open for business for the LSU offense. Burrow feasted on the middle of the field. There was not a lot of help for Alabama defensive backs on any routes going over the middle. One adjustment we didn’t see until briefly in the fourth quarter was getting some pressure up the middle. Quarterbacks hate getting pressured up the middle. Bama effectively got some pressure from the outside but never up the middle in a way that would affect his vision and those throws he hit all night. And that was where LSU went when Alabama really needed to make a stop in the fourth quarter after getting within 5; LSU went across the middle to Ja’Marr Chase for a critical first down that thwarted the Bama rally.
Tide MVP: Najee Harris. At halftime, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said this to the CBS on-field reporter in response to her question about Tua’s health affecting Alabama’s play:
“I don’t think our whole offense looked like themselves. I don’t think you can blame it on Tua. I don’t think it has anything to do with his physical ability. We’re behind the 8-ball with penalties. We haven’t been able to run the ball effectively.”
The valuable piece of information in that interview was the last sentence. The Crimson Tide came out in the second half and committed to the run, and it opened up the whole offense. Harris played huge in the third and fourth quarters and nearly led Alabama to a come-from-behind victory. He finished with 146 yards on the ground and 44 receiving yards. His incredible touchdown catch was probably the play of the game for Alabama’s offense.
There is still a path to the playoff. Analytics gurus FiveThirtyEight now have the Crimson Tide with a 12% chance to make the playoff. Alabama needs for Ohio State to win out, especially against Penn State. The Tide do not need a Penn State upset over Ohio State so as to avoid them jumping in front of them as the highest-ranked one loss team at the end. Georgia may sneak ahead of the Tide this week but they may end up with a second loss by the end of the season. A little chaos in the Big 12 and PAC 12 would also be welcome. As difficult as it is to consider, fans of the Crimson Tide also need to become fans of LSU to win out for the same reason as Ohio State. It gets tricky, and they don’t control their own destiny anymore, but strange things can happen in college football during the month of November.