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Behind the Box Score: Alabama

The game was bad, the numbers are worse.

The game in miniature
The game in miniature
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

We are almost through the post-mortems of the Alabama game, as we file our routine columns out of some sort of sick feeling of obligation. Billy had to do the Re-Watch because that's what he does, and now here I am, looking back at the box score, like I do each week.

Before we look at those numbers, let's ask ourselves: why? I mean, really. What sort of insight do we hope to glean by reliving this game in all of its awfulness. You don't really need to bring a microscope to study a car accident. You knew it was bad without getting into the grisly details. I expect no LSU fan to enjoy reading this, as I sure as hell didn't enjoy writing it. Maybe I'll link to the Bama blog, they might enjoy pointing and laughing.

Yes, the numbers are that bad.

6-75. LSU's longest drive of the night was 6 plays for 75 yards. LSU actually had four drives which lasted six plays, but none went for a seventh. Bama had four drives longer than 6 plays and two drives longer than 75 yards, including the game-ending 13-play, 78-yard epic. Actually, let's look at that one for a second.

9:18. The time left on the clock when Alabama got the ball back after LSU's fourth quarter touchdown. That's a ton of time and while a comeback certainly wasn't likely, it was at least on the table. Get a stop, score again, and it's a one score game. You're clutching at straws, but you are still at least in the game. Instead, Bama took the full 9:18 off the clock, converting five first downs, including going 3 of 3 on third downs. On the third play of the drive, Alabama gained three yards on a 3rd and 2. They never looked back. Just a dominating, exclamation point of a drive.

18-24-184. Jake Coker threw 18 completions on 24 attempts. If Derrick Henry is tearing through your defense, at the very least, you need to stop Coker from beating you. The defense didn't, and that added to the misery. Coker threw for more yards than LSU's entire total offensive output: 184 to 182.

1. The number of carries a running back not named Leonard Fournette got for LSU. Williams rushed once for five yards. Harris chipped in 20 yards on 5 carries, counting sacks. So in six carries, the other LSU runners gained 25 yards on the ground, only 6 less yards than Fournette gained on 19 carries. That's about as bad of a night as you can imagine.

8:39. Bama's time of possession in the first quarter. It would be the lowest TOP for the Bama offense in a quarter in the entire game. By game's end, they had dominated TOP 39:27 to 20:33 and had run 79 plays to LSU's 45. LSU relies on ball control, and it was getting out-possessed by a two to one margin. That put the defense in a terrible position, some of it by its own making, as it would allow 434 yards on 5.5 yards/play. Bama's coup de grace was holding the ball for over twelve minutes of the fourth quarter, while protecting a lead. The word you're looking for is "Damn."

16-16. The score from every quarter save the third. LSU got their doors blown off, as you can tell by the 434-182 yardage margin. I'm hardly a yardage zealot, but sometimes, the yards gained do tell the story. However, this game was 13-10 at the half, and only because Bama hit a 55 yard field goal. Bama didn't quick strike LSU, needing long, methodical drives. This was a blowout, but the blowout, in a way, was confined to that third quarter. That speaks to how huge Brandon Harris' interception was. If he doesn't throw the pick, LSU still likely loses the game, but that was the play that turned this from a slugfest into a blowout. LSU had four drives in the third quarter in which they ran 11 plays for 9 yards. The drives resulted in a turnover and three punts. Ballgame.

6-19-1. Brandon Harris' line. For all of the talk about Fournette, Harris dialed up a clunker, and this might have been the bigger factor in the loss. The defense dared him to pass, and he couldn't do it. If he has anything approaching a decent game, it opens up lanes for Fournette, or maybe the offense can operate without the run game.  In the second half, Harris went 3 for 10 for 38 yards and a pick. In the decisive third quarter, he went 1 for 6 for 10 yards and of course, the backbreaking interception. LSU needed Harris to step up, and he didn't.