It’s not 2011 anymore.
The LSU Tigers faced the ultimate test on Saturday afternoon in Bryant-Denny Stadium, rising to the occasion and beating the Crimson Tide, 46-41.
When Tua Tagovailoa played the National Championship game against Clemson fresh off a tightrope procedure, it didn’t bode well him. Saturday wasn’t the 44-16 beatdown the signal-caller and his team endured against Clemson, but it was certainly one of his rougher games.
LSU won the toss and chose to defer, giving Tagovailoa and company the first go on offense. The Tide started hot on offense, as Tagovailoa found Ruggs for a 20-yard reception, followed by a 31-yard rush by Najee Harris.
Rashard Lawrence deflected Tagovailoa’s pass in the red zone on second down and goal, and it wasn’t long after that Tagovailoa lost the ball in the red zone and it was recovered by Ray Thornton.
LSU took over in Alabama territory and then went on to draw first blood, as Burrow connected with Ja’Marr Chase on a 33-yard touchdown. The Tigers led, 7-0 with 9:15 remaining in the first quarter.
Alabama’s blunders continued as they botched a punt on 4th and 6, allowing LSU to go to work at the Alabama 40. The Tigers settled for a 39-yard field goal from Cade York to extend their lead to 10-0 with just under five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Alabama got the the board with just over a minute remaining in the first quarter on a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown by Jaylen Waddle. Alabama trailed LSU, 10-7 at that point.
Burrow found an answer — a wide-open Terrace Marshall, to be exact — for a 29-yard touchdown, bringing the lead over Alabama to 16-7 after York’s extra point attempt was blocked.
Alabama went for it on 4th and 1, and came up short after the Jacob Phillips stop. When LSU took over, the Tigers made their way into LSU territory, but a delay of game penalty on Burrow erased the fourth down conversion.
The Crimson Tide got to the scoreboard again with a 64-yard touchdown reception by DeVonta Smith. Alabama trailed, 16-13 with just under seven minutes left in the half.
The Tigers drove down the field quickly on their following possession, which ended in a 45-yard field goal by York.
The LSU defense got a quick stop on Alabama, then capped off its next drive with Edwards-Helaire jumping over the entire Alabama defensive line for a touchdown. But they weren’t done yet. Helaire recorded a 13-yard touchdown pass with six seconds to spare, and the Tigers walked into the locker room at halftime with a 33-13 lead.
LSU drove off the efforts of Edwards-Helaire, but an interception by Burrow around the 40 put a halt to his own efforts. The Tigers played complementary football, though, and defense was able to undo Burrow’s error.
Alabama cut LSU’s lead to 33-20 after a 15-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Harris with under five minutes left in the third quarter.
The Tide were leading a full-scale rally, and drew dangerously close to LSU’s lead with one-yard touchdown by Harris to make it 33-27 with 14:33 left of game time.
Burrow showed grit on the following drive, which finished out with a five-yard rushing touchdown by Edwards-Helaire.
Alabama refused to be put away, though. Tagovailoa marched the Tide down the field and connected with Jerry Jeudy on a five-yard touchdown pass to make it a one-score game with 5:32 to play.
The Tigers stayed aggressive on the next drive, with an 18-yard quarterback draw setting up a seven yard Clyde Edwards-Helaire touchdown. Bama still refused to yield, scoring immediately on an 85 yd TD pass to Harris, making the score 46-41. LSU got the ball back with 1:21 on the clock and needed a first down to seal it. Edwards-Helaire took a 12 yard carry, willing himself to get the first down and dragging the pile 12 yards to seal the victory.
The Tigers face the Ole Miss Rebels next Saturday in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at 6:00 p.m. CT.