The obvious takeaway from Saturday’s game is that statement, but I think it’s worth noting that NO ONE is in Alabama’s league right now. Vegas released preliminary odds for the playoffs. Bama is a double digit favorite against everyone except Clemson, over which they are favored by nine points.
It’s discouraging to get a beat down from your rival, but the simple point of the matter is that Bama has so effectively lapped the playing field that a loss to them is essentially meaningless. So, LSU isn’t going to win the national title this year. That possibility was already remote due to the existence of Bama.
But this is still a team that is better than 99% of the programs in the country this year, and is still on course for a New Years Six Bowl so long as they stay focused down the stretch. Bama revealed that LSU does not possess a perfect team, something we were already acutely aware of. Demanding a perfect team is a high ask, and one that you’ll be waiting on for a long while.
6-81. Let’s start with the one positive. Justin Jefferson had 6 catches for 81 yards, in a nice, productive game. He snagged several first downs and was generally a threat all game. He was the one offensive weapon who showed up. That’s not nearly enough, but let’s give credit to the one offensive player who had a good game.
12. LSU’s rushing yards. Clyde Edwards-Helaire went 6-14 and Nick Brossette went 7-5. That’s 19 yards on 13 carries from the running backs, with a long carry of 6 yards. For all of the vitriol that has been spewed towards Joe Burrow and Steve Ensminger in the aftermath of the game, the fact of the matter is: LSU cannot function offensively if the running game is this terrible. It’s not entirely on the backs, as the offensive line was getting absolutely blown up at the point of attack, but LSU had to completely abandon the run in this game.
576. Alabama’s total yards. The defense played fairly well for a unit getting no support from the offense, but at the end of the day, 576 yards is 576 yards. For all of the talk of Tua, it was the running game that did the most damage. Bama averaged 7.6 yards per carry compared to 7.0 yards per pass. Tua finished with a shade under 300 yards passing on 42 attempts, a victory for the defense. The problem is, that defense was given away on the ground, where the Tide relentlessly hammered the LSU defense for 281 yards on 37 carries.
127. LSU yards gained on the final two possessions. LSU gained 196 yards on the game, so the Tigers managed just 69 yards when the game was still in contest. Bama’s defense took the foot of the gas, and LSU gained 127 yards on 21 plays, also converting three third downs during those drives. LSU’s offensive numbers with those meaningless drives taken out paint a more accurate picture of the night. LSU gained 69 yards on 39 plays for a 1.77 per play average. LSU converted 2 of 11 first downs outside those two drives, and punted on every single possession. Additionally, LSU went three and out on five of nine drives. Those final two drives masked the sheer level of domination save for the final score, as LSU went 0-for-2 in the red zone, and Cole Tracy missed his first field goal inside 50 yards on the season.
1. LSU interceptions. The only turnover of the game technically went in LSU’s favor, but it actually was part of a sequence of events which was the death knell for any chance of an LSU victory. It was a game so bad, that even interceptions by DBU ended up being a negative. Todd Harris ended up being down at the 4, on a pass play that started from Bama’s own 40. So, in effect, this was a perfect 56-yard coffin-corner punt downed just shy of the goal line. LSU couldn’t convert the first down, and Burrow was lucky not give up a safety on a sack. Bama took over with 1:42 left in the half on their own 46, a net gain of 6 yards. Bama would drive for the touchdown and a 16-0 lead, and that was all she wrote.
8. Devin White tackles. He played one half and finished tied for third on the team in tackles. Just sayin’.
1-1. Alabama fourth down conversions. Saban went for the jugular, and Orgeron blinked. After the first quarter, Bama had 144 yards of total offense to LSU’s 53. However, the score was 6-0, and LSU had 3rd and 2 at the Alabama 42. This was LSU’s chance to get on the board and flip the scoreboard against the run of play. LSU was on its first decent drive of the game, having already gone 40 yards in 5 plays. Nick Brossette was stopped on third down for no gain, and LSU punted into the end zone, a net gain of 22 yards. Bama would cross the 42 in three plays on their next drive. When Saban faced fourth and one from the LSU 16, he didn’t blink like Orgeron had on the previous drive. Though Alabama ended up settling for a field goal from the five yard line, it showed Bama was trying to exploit its every advantage. LSU had the chance to take a risk to go for points, but played it close to the vest. The move backfired and LSU was never close to making it a game again.
Orgeron was right in the sense that Bama won this game because of its advantage in talent in the trenches. LSU’s offensive line, especially, was completely overwhelmed. A weakness all season due to early NFL defections and then a rash of injuries, LSU’s offensive line is clearly the biggest weakness on the team, ripe for other teams to exploit. The good news here is that the cure for the line is essentially time. There’s only one senior offensive linemen in the two-deep (Garrett Brumfield) and four upperclassmen. This is a unit taking its lumps as guys are being forced to play early. This should pay dividends down the line.
But Orgeron is also to blame because he had a chance to show to his team that we were taking the fight to them, and he didn’t. You can talk the talk, but you gotta walk the walk, too. All of the pregame yelling and getting hype doesn’t mask the fact that when it came down to make a big decision, Orgeron went timid.
Bama eats timid for breakfast.
The good news now is that LSU won’t face a team remotely as good as Bama for the rest of the year. Even better, LSU won’t face team as good as most of its schedule to date in November. LSU will be a favorite in every game for the rest of the year. Ten wins, a major bowl, and a top ten finish are on the table. This is a very good team in Baton Rouge. Unfortunately, they ran into a historically great one.